Does Clothing Brand Matter to FRC Wearers?
Many steps and stakeholders are involved in designing, producing, selling and delivering FRC clothing, but what drives overall customer satisfaction?
As flame resistant (FR) protection has become commoditized, fabric and garment manufacturers have focused on traditional attributes to differentiate their products. However, quite possibly the most important differentiator is the FR clothing brand and the meaning a consumer associates with that particular brand.
Brands are like a promise to consumers. Think of some top brands and you immediately know what you’re going to get. A brand consists of a bundle of attributes, and in the case of FR clothing, this includes: comfort, durability and fit. In fact, buying a certain brand says something about you, the consumer.
Understanding the Customer
Each year, Tyndale surveys over 2,000 wearers to understand how to make products workers want to wear. The results of our surveys indicate that:
- Comfort is consistently the most important quality workers are looking for when purchasing their FR clothing. Comfort can be affected by the fibers and fabrics used to manufacturing the clothing, as well as FR clothing fabric finishes – i.e. wicking, bug repellent, antimicrobial and stain release.
- Fit comes in second as fit closely relates to comfort. The right size, shape and color combine to make a person feel good about his appearance. FR clothing will only provide the right protection if it is worn appropriately, fits the wearer the way it should and is comfortable to work in.
- Protection ranks third. Parity in protection points to evidence that most fabrics of similar weight provide about the same level of protection as others made by different manufacturers. Companies know the industry regulations they must comply with, and because of that, workers know the protection level their clothing must meet. However, it’s common that most workers think a serious accident “won’t happen to me.”
- Finally, durability comes in as the fourth most important attribute of workers’ FR clothing. After comfort, fit and protection, how long with FR clothing last? Will workers have to replace their wardrobe every couple of months or can their FRC handle repeated tough days of use?
Quality of End-User Experience
At the end of the day, FR clothing service providers are in business to ensure that you and your employees are not only happy but also well protected. The quality of the end-user experience is directly tied to the quality of the service provider. Service providers typically play the largest role in overall customer satisfaction as they put a face on the product and manage the total experience through various activities.
An FR clothing service provider (or brand) directly impacts the following 5 key attributes of the FRC experience:
1. Product Selection/Availability
Does your service provider sell only their own brand, or other FR clothing brands as well? Sometimes getting what you need means using different manufacturers and combining them into one program for your employees.
Does your FR clothing provider offer product reviews? Reviews help build trust around a brand. Be careful of the companies that only display positive reviews as this does not give the true picture of a product. Reviews will give wearers first-hand insight into a garment, and how it fulfilled the needs of another customer.
2. Ordering Channels and Returns
People prefer to place orders different ways. A company-customized program website is preferred by some safety managers and employees to place their orders. Alternately, other companies prefer to have a paper trail and order using traditional order forms and paper catalogs.
Does your service provider allow returns on any product for virtually any reason? Do your employees incur extra charges when returning products? These are important considerations to keep in mind as the return process should be as user-friendly as possible.
3. Logo and Alterations Capabilities and Quality
Smaller U.S. factories will pay special attention to fabric variations, reducing waste and increasing fabric yield – the #1 driver of garment cost. Careful quality controls guarantee that FR garments are made to meet U.S. industry regulations.
Be on the look out for hidden service fees or logo set-up fees outside of the fee to logo items. Alterations are an important part of any FR clothing program, and basic services should be included in the garment cost. Additionally, some service providers, like Tyndale, offer free repair kits to their customers upon request.
4. Lead time
Where your FR service provider manufactures their garments can play a significant role in product lead time. U.S. factories are closer to the end-user wearer, and thus shipping costs and transit times are reduced when compared to companies that manufacture abroad. Domestic manufacturing allows some brands to restock their products faster, which directly correlates to shorter lead times meaning you and your employees receive garments sooner.
A common practice these days is to outsource call centers or customer service departments. Does your FR clothing provider provide comprehensive customer service and support to your employees? More importantly, is their customer service team on-site and are your calls answered by live customer service representatives?
As the FRC industry matures, it is apparent that many clothing companies are differentiating themselves based on the activities and services outlined above. Combined, understanding the customer and providing services that lead to high quality end-user experience are what make up a brand. The bottom line is that customer satisfaction increases as people buy the brands they like, have had positive experiences with, and trust.
Did you know? Tyndale provides each of the 5 key attributes listed above to enhance the overall customer experience. To learn more about the people behind our brand, watch our Tyndale Pride video to see why we are Proud to Protect!