There’s a common goal found in every major, successful company: to be an authority in its respective field. If your business is not dedicated to becoming an authority in the home improvement industry, then it’s unlikely to reach the next level of success and growth.
But what does it mean to be an authority? What does a successful company do to become an authority?
Here, we will discuss one important component to becoming an authority: customer education.
What Is Good Customer Education?
Simply put, customer education refers to the company’s ability to provide information, insight, and skills in order to help the customer become an informed buyer. While customer education can be implemented into a marketing strategy or advertising campaign, it also can stand on its own.
Customer education should go beyond listing service or product features and benefits. Today, customers are more informed than ever before. Before deciding on a new HVAC system, for example, the customer has likely done his or her research online long before ever having called you. Aside from listing features that can be easily found elsewhere, you should provide real-world value and insight to your customers.
Customers want to know how the service or product can help in his or her specific situation; how it can solve his or her problem. In an article from Business Insider, marketing expert Mark Quinn states, “A lot of companies believe they’re educating their customers because they’re elaborating upon the features, advantages, and benefits of their products. What’s relevant to the consumer, however, isn’t what the company values about its own product, but what the product can do to solve a problem for him.”
Customers also want to know your honest and expert opinion. Savvy customers recognize when you’re pushing a high-end product to cash in on a higher markup and commission. Rather than doing that, you should present multiple options (“good—better—best solutions”) to your customers and offer your expert insight and experience. It will help your customers make the appropriate comparisons and select the right option.
Why You Should Educate Your Customers
For some time, customer education was avoided by many businesses. The mindset was that if the customer was more informed, then he or she would be more likely to shop around and take his or her business elsewhere. Also, salespeople avoided providing additional customer education for fear that it would grant the customer more leverage.
Today, that ideology is outmoded. In fact, a study performed by MIT highlights the importance of customer education in the service industry, including the home improvement contracting business:
“Efforts to enhance customers’ service knowledge had a positive and strong impact on customer trust in our study. Interestingly, however, there were also some secondary effects of customer education. Specifically, the extent to which service employees provided courteous and attentive service had an even stronger positive effect on trust as customer education initiatives increased.”
One sure way to grow your business is to keep the customers you already have; so once trust has been established, you’re effectively positioning your customers to do repeat business with you.
Ways You Can Educate Your Customers
Before you can begin educating your customers, it’s critical that you know more about them. In an attempt to better understand your customers, ask yourself the following:
Once you better understand who your customers are, you’ll be in a better position to help them and provide them with the knowledge they need to make the right buying decision.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
According to Mark Quinn, “I recently visited a Nike store to try on a pair of running shoes. The sales staff wouldn’t let me buy a pair of shoes unless I got on a treadmill. They taped my running style and then explained what type of shoe would be best for me, based on my running tendencies. They played the video back for me, explaining how my foot fell on the treadmill and how that one movement translated to a certain kind of support. I was hooked into buying shoes — and coming back — because they’d taken the time to educate me.” Nike’s education approach through excellent customer service was the reason for making the sale (and getting repeat business).
Of course, you’re business does not sell shoes, but you can see the strategy employed. The sales team was more concerned with educating the customer to help him find the right product, not necessarily the “best” or the most expensive.
Maintain a Blog
In the online world, content is king. Don’t mistake your blog for a self-promoting platform, rather utilize it for customer education. Provide insightful tips and how-to articles. If you can, create videos or infographics to visually educate your customers and future ones. You can also compare and contrast different products, if applicable, and can even help your customers perform their own routine maintenance or odd jobs through effective tutorials.
Expand your content to related fields. Even if you specialize in repairing and installing HVAC systems, that does not mean you can’t provide engaging content about other related home improvement contracting jobs or tips. Again, become an authority to your customers. The customer will recognize that you have his or her best interests in mind, and an informative blog will help establish your business as the ultimate resource for your target market.
In an effort to be an authority, successful businesses recognize that they cannot ignore one important contributor to that goal: customer education. As you look to grow your company in the home improvement industry, make sure that you consider customer education within your business model. Not only will this empower your customers to select the right options, but it also creates trust and is the catalyst for repeat business.