Boat owners are the lifeblood of your business. Not only do you strive to carry the products they want and need, you need the ability to communicate with them effectively. You should be able to help them assess any problems with their boat, find a solution, and understand the value of the products and services you offer. Here, we’ll provide six tips to help you communicate with them, particularly where instrumentation issues are concerned.

1. Personalize Your Interaction With the Customer

One of the best ways to build a rapport with a customer, leading to smoother interactions and repeat business, is to personalize the way you interact with them. For repeat customers, touch on pain points during previous interactions to create a connection. If the customer is new, briefly introduce yourself and company. Show how you can diagnose their issues. Thank the customer for their time by name and provide additional ways they can reach you.

2. Minimize Your Use of Boating Jargon

Imagine a time when you saw a doctor or hired a lawyer. Those professionals may have used terminology that was unfamiliar to you. However, if the professional was good at their job, they probably explained things in lay terms — and if they didn’t, you may have felt frustrated.

Never assume a customer knows the name of every gauge and instrument on their boat, even if they’re an avid boater. It’s common to be confused by similar terms like fuel sensor and fuel level sender, for example. Begin any interaction using language a general customer can understand. If the customer starts using technical terminology, you can infer they have a more sophisticated knowledge. However, they still may not know the different brands of marine components available or what makes one better than another.

Explaining issues in a way customers understand optimizes customer experience and you will eventually win the customer for upsells and future cross sells.

3. Listen to Your Customers and Give Thorough Answers

We communicate best when we listen to understand, rather than listening to respond. The first thing to remember is to answer your customer’s boat maintenance questions in the order in which they ask. 

The speed at which the conversation moves is dependent on a multitude of factors, many of which are out of your control. Have patience and pace your answers to customer questions. Don’t shy away from repeating important concepts or information. Conclude your interaction with asking if they have any additional questions.

4. Be a Subject Matter Expert on Your Products

Knowing your products inside and out can help you make the best recommendations. It also reduces the probability of having to transfer calls or making a customer wait a long time for an accurate answer. 

Depending on the marine manufacturers and suppliers you use, communication supply chains can be rather lengthy. The most knowledgeable individuals are usually engineers, who are extremely busy and possibly in a different time zone from your shop. Something as simple as a customer needing to confirm the right threading can take weeks. Customers need to make decisions fast, especially if they are replacing a unit. If they are met with an extended timeframe to replace a part they will almost always outsource to a competitor. Keep user manuals nearby to confirm information for customers, and maintain strong relationships with your suppliers.

Stay up-to-date with the latest versions of marine instruments. Visit the manufacturers’ websites and blogs, so that you won’t miss a thing.

5. Direct Customer to Supporting Materials

Component manufacturers have a wealth of information on their marine products and are happy to help you communicate that information to your customers. Let the customer know that answers to their questions regarding gauges and sensors can typically be solved in supporting materials. Emphasize the ease of using these resources, as customer service may not be available after hours, on weekends, or during holidays. Resources on manufacturer websites might include:

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Here, customers can usually find product installation details, where part numbers are located on gauges and sensors, and the manufacturer of the parts currently on their boat. They can also learn to troubleshoot many common mechanical issues.
  • Product Data Sheets – These explain technical aspects of products in a way that most boaters can understand. For example, they could look up a particular gauge and find the product description, product type, product name, bezel, face plate, mounting dimension, protection rating, input signal, indicating range, operation voltage, background light color, connector, and movement type.
  • Catalogs – These are useful for looking up products with their corresponding part numbers, the series a product belongs to, applications in which products can be used, materials, add-ons, and customizations. Customers with advanced knowledge may reference a product from previous experiences that may correspond to products in the catalog.

6. Offer Recommendations

Often, customers have limited knowledge about a product they need. In these cases, take control of the situation and make a recommendation of a gauge or sensor. You might base recommendations on:

  • Industry best sellers
  • Trends
  • Possible ongoing sales/discounts
  • Product ratings
  • Closest to their location
  • Past usages
  • Previous purchases
  • Higher quality

Finally, be prepared to explain the selling points of the product you offer. You might emphasize the high quality, the reputation of the component manufacturer, or the fact that parts are made in the U.S.

Count on KUS for Your Marine Customers’ Needs

As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of liquid level senders and gauge instrumentation, KUS manufactures components for the marine sector as well as other industries. We have a longstanding familiarity with the stringent requirements of the marine industry and offer a comprehensive suite of products to address the needs of boaters, designers, and engineers in the marine industry. Explore our gauges and level senders, so you’re prepared to solve the problems that your customers bring to you — keeping them happy and your business profitable.

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