Why the future of manufacturing is customer experience
What do Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google all have in common? For one thing, they all ranked among the world’s most successful companies in 2020. But, more importantly, each of these companies has revolutionised the business world with innovative, tech-driven and fully customer-focused approaches.
If you’re like most of us, you love the convenience of buying from a customer-centric company like Amazon. This retail giant continues to develop user-friendly solutions that cater fully to customers’ needs: from personalized, engaging sales experiences, to proactive services that simply make our lives easier. And without this laser-sharp focus on the customer experience, who knows? Amazon might have just been another online bookstore.
Over the past decade though, Amazon has set a new standard for what customer experience should be. The result is a strategy for unprecedented business success. For companies like Amazon, “the customer is king” and “convenience is key” are more than just old pieces of business wisdom. They are the underpinnings for every investment in new technology the company makes.
So, can customer-focused “industry 4.0” technologies also boost business in the manufacturing sector? Major manufacturers around the world now believe that they can. That’s why customer experience is becoming a major priority throughout the manufacturing industry right now. Increased digitalisation is empowering manufacturers to overcome obstacles that their customers have been facing for years. Below, we look at how new customer-centric technologies make your manufacturing company the kind of brand that people love to do business with.
A smarter sales experience
Today’s buyers devote a lot of time to searching online for information to help them make purchase decisions. This is a pivotal moment of the customer experience. That’s why many manufacturing companies are now targeting potential buyers by catering to their information needs.
Valuable, easily accessible online content in the form of blog posts, FAQs, customer success stories, product demonstrations and webinars (to name a few channels) engages with potential customers at a decisive moment of their decision-making process.
It takes careful market analysis to recognise exactly what potential buyers are looking for, and to determine how your company can step in to inform and support them. Tracking interactions with existing customers is one valuable source for discovering information gaps and pain points that your online content can address. By focusing on customer needs, you position your brand as a problem-solver. This builds trust in potential buyers and helps you stand out from your competitors.
Stronger customer relations
One thing that successful tech-driven companies understand is that retaining existing customers is much cheaper than acquiring new ones. That’s why they dive into their customer data to identify areas for adding even more value. By understanding your existing customers’ preferences, you can offer them proactive service experiences and predict their future needs.
Nothing shows your customers that you care more than proactive, engaging service. New technologies help you provide customer-friendly services, such as proactive maintenance and personalised online support.
Analysts at McKinsey have found a direct link between strong, data-driven customer relations and business success, including sales increases of five to ten percent and cost reductions in the range of 15 to 25 percent. In other words, prioritising customer relations grows your business.
Products that people love to use
In the past, manufacturers have devoted so much attention to product design that they sometimes failed to fully account for customer needs. The new shift towards customer experience in manufacturing means leveraging data to actually improve product performance and make people’s lives even easier.
Digitalised manufacturers now rely on data from connected products to track their performance and gain insights into the ways people are using them. This valuable information helps you enhance product designs so that they add even more value.
Offering customers convenient channels for supplying feedback online is another great way to collect ideas for tweaking your products. New technologies have brought customers more closely into contact with manufacturers than ever before. The result is a win-win: customers benefit from smarter designs, while manufacturers increase sales by building a loyal, engaged customer base.
Getting customer experience right
The transition to a customer experience-based business model takes time, patience and innovative thinking. Choosing the right digital tools for your company and its customers might involve some trial and error. It also takes a group effort at every level of your organisation to roll out a customer-focused approach. This means carefully selecting the right people for the job and seeking external support where needed.
When applied correctly, industry 4.0 technologies deliver added value for your customers. They let you create a customer base that is better informed, more self-sufficient and more engaged with your brand. And in the age of customer experience, that is vital to the future success of your business.