The folks at Gougeon Brothers Inc., makers of West Brand epoxy, not only know their products, they also know what their customers are working on.
How? By gladly answering more than 10,000 queries annually about their products and epoxy in general. Questions come not only from do-it-yourself boat builders and repairers but OEM builders, boat repair professionals and customers using the product for a myriad of other applications.
Company officials believe that the close ties that exist between the business and its customers have helped Gougeon Brothers survive and thrive for the last four decades.
“As our most veteran technical person says, ‘Most people who call are looking for permission to do what they’re planning to do,’” says Grace Ombry, marketing director at the Bay City, Mich., company and managing editor of the company’s twice-yearly magazine Epoxyworks. “If your customer has a bad experience, you’re never going to sell another drop of epoxy to that person. If you bought our product, you bought the help, too.”
Technical staffers take turns answering calls and e-mails, sometimes reproducing customer problems in the company workshop to arrive at a solution. The technical staff meets weekly to discuss troublesome issues and will go to great lengths to solve customer issues. The company also produces instructional publications and videos to help with a wide assortment of products.
“I spent some time in the technical department,” Ombry says, “and they get excited about some of the things people are working on.”
During business hours, a receptionist – not a phone tree – answers each call and routes it to the appropriate person. And if someone bought another brand of epoxy and has questions? The technical people never ask.
“We’ve built a relationship with our customers based on trust,” Ombry says. “Epoxy is expensive, but it’s not just the price, it’s the investment in what the customer is working on.
“If a customer makes a mistake and fails, that person will spend hours scraping off crud and trying to rectify the problem.”