Do you know the difference between “high touch business” and “low touch business?” “High touch” is what we call a business where the customer places their trust and partnership with a company and/or individual at that company. The relationship is central to the sale and retention of the customer. “Low touch” businesses sell a product too, but that product can be consumed on its own without a great deal of interface between the company’s sales team and the customer.
Which type of business is ECHOtape? “Low touch,” right?
Not exactly. Even though the tape business is not what you’d think of as “high touch,” we believe that it is more important than ever to stay in touch with our customers in this growing digital and decentralized world. Because of this, it is one of the reasons we returned to the trade show circuit after a 10 year hiatus.
As a small company, from way back in the early days until now, we have always held as a core value that our business means real relationships with our customers. We are known as a company of people that care about each other and care about getting each and every roll of tape to our customers every single day out of the year. Relationships matter! That’s why, even during the economic downturn recently, ECHOtape didn’t shed our sales force. Was it an expensive decision? Probably, but I would argue that our continued investment in our sales force is what kept us alive during that bad stretch. “High touch” is part of our competitive advantage today whenever we go up against the big boys. In a world where more and more products are pure commodity, our connection to our customers is our primary value proposition.
What does being a “high touch” company look like? In many ways, it is the most natural thing imaginable. We have always worked closely with our customers in the field. We would stay overnight at a paper mill while production crews would test our splicing tape. We would go out to residential construction sites in California where they use our stucco tape to learn exactly how the job gets done. Being in the field alongside our customers gives us a real sense of what is going on, helps us better understand our customers’ needs, and how we can help them deal with the issues they are facing in order to do a better job. Our sales team constantly brings back market intelligence about what our customers are saying about ours and other products, what they like and dislike, and how our competitors are faring. We can keep tabs on what is going on in the industry and how we can compete most effectively.
Here’s what is really interesting about all those examples: When I first got here, I used to argue all day long that we could be more efficient and do more business with fewer “feet on the ground.” I argued passionately for less touch, and I am so glad that I was wrong. Today, I know that we’d be DOA had we followed that advice, and that by maintaining a “high touch” mentality, we are thriving because of it. Boy, have I come full circle!
Is your business high-touch? Tell us about it in the comment, or email your questions to us!