Providing technical support for construction products to drive specifications

Providing technical support for construction products to drive specifications

For construction product manufacturers, possibly the most important tool in the sales and marketing mix, is technical support. Technical advice is the key reason why a specifier will maintain a relationship with a construction product manufacturer. An in-house technical advice service is a great way to encourage enquiries and build the manufacturer’s brand reputation. Options to achieve this are via technical advisor appointments (made by the sales team), a technical telephone support line or online chat support, dependent on your resource. In this article we explore how to best provide technical support to drive specifications.

Make it easy to access the technical information about your construction products
When selecting products, part of the specifier’s decision-making process will be evaluating the level of technical support available in terms of competence, speed and ease of access. It is important first and foremost to make it easy to access the technical information about your products. The most obvious way of providing this information is on your website, providing a dedicated section with technical data, approvals, test reports and drawings available as downloads.

Make it easy for the specifier to contact you
Don’t hide your support telephone or email address. Respond as clearly as possible and where possible restate unclear questions, to ensure you have understood the enquiry fully. Use images or videos with your response if possible. Add an FAQ page to streamline your technical support, so you can direct enquiries there. And even if you don’t offer support over the telephone, sometimes it saves time and aggravation to just pick up the phone and talk.

Deliver a service within your resource limit
Good support is essential to a good user experience and generally speaking, the faster you respond, the better. Yet providing the specifier direct support can be a bit trickier to manage, as it can be a resource challenge.

Equally don’t over stretch your team. Choose a support process that suits your company. For example a telephone support line or online chat could be too disruptive for a team that is providing the service alongside other tasks.

If you provide a telephone support-line then ensure your frontline staff have a good level of technical knowledge and are able to answer at least 80% of questions immediately. If providing support via email, then provide an automated response giving details on when the specifier can expect a response. If providing support via online-chat then only have this live when someone is available. It is simply managing customer expectations, so you are able to deliver a service within the resource limits you have.

Ensure the data you provide is true, consistent and accurate
Following the tragedy of Grenfell Tower many in the construction industry are more conscious of product claims. This is where technical support can work with the specifier to ensure they understand the features and also limitations of your construction products.

Companies must ensure that the product information they share is not ambiguous. Sales and Marketing needs to be as ofay with technical product information as the front line technical staff. So they are not ambiguous, or quoting out of date documents, in their sales and marketing messages.

Incorporate technical support into your specification strategy
Ensuring your products are correctly installed should be a priority but it also represents an opportunity to build closer relationships with installers – both companies and their employees – and hence build their loyalty.

Often enquiries received can give early notification of a new project. This is an opportunity not to be missed. Encourage your technical support advisors to gather details of the project and explore what other product opportunities exist when they answer enquiries. Each enquiry needs to be turned into a hot sales lead for further development. For example: enquiries can be supported with the provision of product samples. Supporting specifiers with samples is an opportunity to build the relationship as well as following up a potential sale. A request for a sample is an indication that the product is being considered for a project. A second request may mean that it is being put forward for approval. This is where technical and sales can work together.

Technical support staff can also provide great input to product development and marketing strategy. They should know the product better than anyone else and also, via direct feedback from the specifier and wider construction team, be able to further improve the product.

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