Volume 10, Issue 2 - March/April 2008

Customer Service
tips for quality service

Safety: The Best Differentiator!
by Carl Tompkins

So, what is it that causes a customer to choose one supplier over another? The answer is “differentiators.” The list of differentiators varies from one customer to the next and is based on the single subject of education. The more educated a customer is on the product or service that he desires to purchase, the longer his list of differentiators; the more educated the customer, the better his ability to weight differentiators. Examples of differentiators can include the subjects of location, hours of service, history in the business, reputation, customer service, quality, workmanship and more. When customers lack education on the products they need to purchase, or those who offer those products, price is the principle differentiator. 

Educating Customers
The education that a customer attains, pertaining to the performance of a product or satisfaction of service, comes from three sources: direct experience, referral and supplier provision. Unfortunately, the sources of direct experience and referral are somewhat limited in our industry since the average car owner makes a replacement auto glass purchase once every seven years. 

This scenario emphasizes the need for glass shops to utilize all possible opportunities to educate customers in order to increase their list of differentiators. Can you think of any subject more powerful than safety? Just how important is any other topic of differentiation, including price, if the glass part is not installed according to code and leaves the customer with an “inoperative” safety device that may lead to serious injury in the event of an accident?

From my own experience, once I’ve shared a few points concerning the risks associated with improper glass installation and how customers can achieve the highest degree of protection by only shopping with those glass companies that comply with the AGRSS Standard, most come away with the commitment that “AGRSS registration” would be their number-one and most weighted differentiator. 

Introducing AGRSS
Now that the key differentiator of “safety” is defined, next is the issue of, “Who follows the AGRSS Standard?” Customers should think that you do, since you’ve been the one to introduce the differentiator of AGRSS, FMVSS and the law. Sure, you can tell them that you do, but proof is needed since everyone “talks the talk.” 

The key is to “walk the walk,” or prove that you follow the rules and deserve the customer’s business. The concept of “third-party-selling” is a necessity that equates to proving your performance through the measurement of other people.

Your best partner in third-party selling is the AGRSS Registration Program, especially considering the positive support and undeniable third-party validation that is coming soon through phase III of the registration program (see related story on page 28). 

Now is the time to become fully vested in the registration program for increasing your power of differentiation.

You are AGRSS! AGRSS is the tool already at hand and available today to make a difference. There are many, like myself, fully vested in the AGRSS way of doing things in supporting your business. AGRSS is the best source of proof of who deserves the business and is built around the theme that it is never the right price unless it’s the right job! The only thing eliminating a glass company’s ability to share in the AGRSS success and ability for AGRSS to make a difference are those who either don’t join or fail to do their part in the walk. 

Carl Tompkins is the Western states area manager for Sika Corp. in Madison Heights, Mich. He is based in Spokane, Wash. Mr. Tompkins’ opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.