The pandemic, shutdown and subsequent strain on hot tub lead times changed the way most everyone does business. “New normal” is a phrase now heard ‘round the world in regard to nearly every aspect of our lives, and how customer service now looks is no exception.
For Allstate Home Leisure, a family-owned Jacuzzi® and Sundance® Spas dealer with five locations in the Detroit suburbs, customers have always been a priority, says CEO, Roy Farmer. However, the pandemic made the emphasis on customer service even stronger.
“What we’ve found is, to serve our customers the way they should be, we have to be more upfront and communicative with them,” Farmer says.
For AquaQuip, a Jacuzzi® and Sundance® Spas retailer with 10 locations in the Seattle/Tacoma metro, customer service during the pandemic required employees to meet customers however they could, and in this case that meant virtually.
“What was eye opening to me was [the virtual presentation] an event for people,” says Jeff Brooks, vice president of sales for AquaQuip. “The customer had a really great time, it was fun, it was engaging, and they hadn’t really done anything like that.”
Brooks took cues from his customers and started to look for other places the company could use virtual technology to improve their experience.
“It started out as just a way to shop for hot tubs, but we’ve expanded that into everything,” Brooks says. “We turn phone calls into the stores into virtual calls now, we do virtual service calls, we do virtual orientations. It’s really become embedded in our everyday life.”
When lead times started to increase, Farmer tasked sales staff with calling customers to personally let each of them know there were delays. “Our sales staff is held accountable to keep their customers informed and that has worked really well,” Farmer says. “They have the relationships with the customer, so it makes sense for them to call. They discovered that contacting the customer proactively — before the customer calls us — is beneficial.”
Since taking this direct and upfront communication approach, Farmer says there has been a significant reduction in order cancelations. “If you don’t look after your customers like you should, they get annoyed and don’t trust you,” he says. “They will go somewhere else or get frustrated and they won’t buy a hot tub at all. We’ve avoided that.”
Proactively calling customers and speaking to them directly about changes will be Allstate’s ‘new normal’ moving forward, Farmer says: “As things change, we’re still going to do it in all of our categories. This is now baked into our company culture because we’ve done so much of it.”
Communicating with customers virtually is also the ‘new normal’ for Aqua Quip; in fact, Brooks says he prefers to do virtual presentations now over in-store.
The latest virtual iteration for Aqua Quip is post-delivery orientations. Now the last contact the company has with customers isn’t delivery, but an ‘in-home’ virtual orientation on how to run, maintain and get the utmost enjoyment out of the hot tub.
“I’m pretty passionate about it,” Brooks says. “We’ll never not do it, and customers love it.”