In the Know: Serve customers better with technology

July 23, 2020 By    

In the Know is a monthly partnership between LP Gas and Propane Resources. Our focus this month is on using technology to better serve customers, addressed by consultant Cooper Wilburn.

Q: What steps can retailers take to better serve customers with technology?

A: In the past couple of months, businesses around the world were forced to change how they operate. The companies that embraced new and improved systems during the past few years were able to pivot quickly and adapt to the shutdown, while others scrambled to alter existing processes or implement new systems to handle the sudden shutdown. Like it or not, the way we do business has changed significantly.

Newer technology should be implemented for contact-free communication and delivery. This is an ideal time for retailers to stress the importance of routed delivery. This requires a back-office system where information can be sourced and various reports automatically generated on a daily or weekly interval so the retailer can anticipate or respond to the needs of customers quickly.

Ideally, a customer could log in via the web and view previous order history and usage, request a delivery and pay bills. This requires the back-office system to be integrated with your website. Many propane-specific software systems have modules with this capability.

Whether customers are will call or own their tanks, a retailer should be able to deliver to them on the company’s schedule. Retailers should market to these customers when the customer is within so many days or weeks of needing a delivery. This allows retailers to deliver to the customer, driving operational efficiencies and gallons. By reaching out to customers, you make it easier for them to say yes to a delivery instead of calling around looking for a delivery.

With the world ever-changing, it is important retailers look at next-generation technologies to improve driver and customer relations, operational efficiencies and marketing tactics. Historically, the propane industry is slow to adapt and implement new technology. The forward-thinking retailer will be the one to see increased gallons, margins and returns during the next several years.

Cooper Wilburn is a consultant at Propane Resources. He can be reached at 913-262-0196.

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