Customer conversations: My local master electrician

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on May 14, 2012

ElectricianIn a world of market research, focus groups, and leading indicators, it’s easy to overlook the most direct way of learning from customers — talking to them. Last week I met up with a local master electrician whose truck is a common sight in my neighborhood.

The first thing I noticed was that he brought a tabbed and worn copy of the NEC as well as a copy of 72 for which he made his own tabs.

I asked what NFPA could do to improve his job and his experience using the code. Like others have said before, he wished that local AHJs would interpret and apply the code the same way he does . He noted that when he and the AHJ have a disagreement, he’s the one who loses money. He also wished the NEC was smaller, but at the same time, he admitted there wasn’t anything that he thought could be taken out. In fact, he wished the book had more information, but could somehow be smaller.

He has also recognized a new challenge he must deal with: His customers are becoming more educated, skeptical, and inclined to look things up on the Internet. It’s no longer enough to explain that something is required by code. Consumers now expect him to explain why. He added that having access to this information would also be useful in training his helpers more effectively.

This is prime stuff for new product development. He wants an easy way to explain common code questions in consumer-friendly language. He wants a more portable, compressible format. He is starting to see the code as more than a safety document — it is becoming a training and sales document as well.

Fortunately for all of the master electricians like mine, NFPA’s new digital-first Content Strategy is focused directly on these customer challenges. We’re launching a number of new mobile products. Our training focus is expanding beyond face-to-face sessions and into blended learning and self-paced lessons, learning tools suitable for his helpers. Our goal is to support safety in as many ways as we can.

Individual conversations don’t define new products, but they can definitely shape them. Who knows your job better than you? If you want to talk, please let me know. I’m always interested in listening. 

-Matt Cannavale