Taking a technology-based approach to provide an enhanced customer experience is one of the best approaches to set yourself apart from competitors. Our client, ASC, is an excellent example of that. Read on to learn how they do it.
Differentiating yourself in a highly competitive or crowded marketspace can be difficult if the value proposition solely is quality. Of course, driving your efforts toward higher quality is necessary for long-term brand recognition and repeat sales, but there is something else you can do to really stand out. You can elevate the customer experience.
Today, we’ll discuss how our client, ASC Engineered Solutions (ASC) sets themselves apart by building customized web tools to ease the customers’ buying experience.
A typical industrial customer buying journey
When buying industrial products, you’re going to likely purchase from a distributor or wholesaler who resells the industrial products. Most companies sell through an authorized distributor, or network of partners to reach end-use customers.
As a buyer or purchasing agent, you know products by a SKU number or product name, but not necessarily their function or the specific application to use them in. As a distributor sales representative, you have access to so many products, you can’t possibly be knowledgeable of them all. You would have to rely on some technical expertise to provide additional insight into specific applications.
For most people who work on small-scale or private projects, their experience with purchasing industrial products is limited to the hardware store. The standard process can sometimes be simple and quick, but it also has inherent issues. Let’s walk through it.
Picture this – your sink begins leaking. While you may have never done any plumbing previously, you feel confident that you can find your own solution via a combination of YouTube and your local hardware store.
After searching around on Google and watching a few tutorial videos, you realize that you need some sort of D-ring to stop the leak. It isn’t exactly clear what size or brand would be best, but you figure the hardware store associate can help you find the right one.
You arrive at the hardware store and a newly hired employee asks if they can assist you. While they are perfectly pleasant to deal with, the person has no direct knowledge of the product you’re looking for and is hesitant to give you actual advice as they are not a plumber either. They instead point you in the general direction of aisle three.
You arrive in aisle three to find hundreds of choices. All kinds of widths, materials, and use cases are there. You experience analysis paralysis, but eventually, end up choosing one and checking out.
There are several possible outcomes at this point:
You bought the wrong part and will have to return to the store to try again.
You purchased an okay part that will last a few years but neglected a better choice.
You made a perfect selection (congratulations, it does happen!)
If one of the first two things has happened to you, you’re not alone! It’s incredibly easy to make a wrong, or less-than-ideal purchase. Even if you’re a bulk buyer, it’s possible that a similar mistake could happen. Enter ASC!
Who is ASC?
Before we get into the technological solutions ASC provides to its customers for guidance and expertise, we need to introduce them.
Anvil and Smith-Cooper International merged in 2019 and have since been known as ASC Engineered Solutions (ASC). ASC provides precision-engineered valves, pipe fittings, and supports with related services to the best service industry professionals. They represent many different high-quality product lines. They offer a comprehensive portfolio of premium-quality flow management solutions used in structures, hospitals, stadiums, factories, and plants.
Their represented brands include ABZ ValveⓇ, AFCONⓇ, AnvilⓇ, Anvil EPSⓇ, Anvil-StrutⓇ, Basic PSAⓇ, Beck, CatawissaⓇ, FlexHeadⓇ, FPPIⓇ, GruvlokⓇ, J.B. SmithⓇ, Kennedy ValveⓇ, MeritⓇ, NAPⓇ, QuadrantⓇ, SCIⓇ, SharpeⓇ, SPF / AnvilⓇ, SprinkFLEXⓇ, TrentonⓇ, and VEPⓇ. Nested under each of these brands are multiple products for specific applications.
With so many different products and solutions, they knew it was critical to provide an excellent customer experience. That’s why they began building their own customized technology tools that meet their customers' needs according to their different roles.
“Our customers are busy people. They want to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. Our website and web tools need to be as user friendly as possible and proven to save them time and/or money in order to be embraced and used.” – Jessica Desrochers, Sr Mgr, Marketing & Communications for ASC
VEP Product Selector
As we mentioned above, finding the exact right choice for your specific need can be difficult. ASC removed that difficulty for their customers looking for pre-insulated supports by creating a VEP Product Selector based on different pipe types, system supports, temperature ranges, hanger spacing, flame/smoke rating requirements, nominal pipe sizes, and desired insulation thickness. Once those parameters are entered in dropdowns, the tool helps customers determine the perfect insulated pipe support product for their needs. It also lets them know if a custom solution would be a better fit. This saves them both time and the aggravation of possibly selecting the incorrect combination of parts.
“We have thousands of products to choose from in our inventory. Creating tools like the VEP Product Selector is a key part of our goals for ASC’s digital offerings; it helps customers find what will best meet their needs and it helps us reduce the call volume for our technical engineering teams. Everybody wins!” – Cayla Ferguson, Digital Content Manager for ASC
After a project has been awarded (perhaps with the help of ASC’s large BIM and CAD digital design file library) and they begin pre-construction stage contractors will need to provide a submittal package to the project manager. They can do this online using the Submittal Manager (please note that an account is required to use this tool as well as the Seis Brace® Fire Protection Seismic Design Tool they offer). This tool allows ASC customers to create a complete PDF containing all the products they require for their project, along with their technical submittal documentation in one, organized PDF file. This makes confirming that selected products meet required specifications or regulations simple and release orders easy as well.
Seis Brace® Fire Protection Seismic Design Tool
Another impressive technological innovation ASC produced with their customers in mind was the Seis Brace® Fire Protection Seismic Design Calculator. This tool helps ensure that seismic bracing is designed to meet applicable (and complex) seismic building regulations from the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). It also helps maximize efficiency in those systems to lower overall install costs.
NFPA regulations and requirements are pre-built into the tool, allowing the customer to configure a project according to the relevant specifications. Pre-built calculation algorithms help designers find ways to optimize their design. This makes staying compliant and safe much easier and is, like the tools presented previously, is backed by ASC’s technical and sales teams who are ready to assist users and can be easily reached with a click or two.
As previously mentioned, ASC also offers an ever-expanding BIM/CAD library and a distributor portal that work in conjunction with the tools we presented today to provide key information and impart ease of use for customers.
“Imarc has been an amazing and essential partner in the development of ASC’s digital tools and website. Their team goes above and beyond for us time and again and continues to help evolve our digital landscape to better meet customer needs and position us at the top of our industry.” – Jessica
Ongoing work toward excellence
For ASC, providing an elevated customer experience with technology is an ongoing priority, which is why they continue to produce new digital tools to solve their customers' pain points. We can’t wait to see their next project come to life – and we look forward to helping them execute it!
Do you have a technology tool-based project you’d like to bring to life? Let’s talk.
Get in the know
We stay on top of the latest trends so you don’t have to. Subscribe for a quarterly dose of marketing tips, web design techniques, creative trends, and a whole lot more, plus a look at our featured client work.