Back in the day, manufacturers were generally at arm’s length from the end customer. Products were made, bought by, and supplied to distributors and retailers, and—all being well—repeat orders were placed. Thank you very much, hope to see you again soon. Given the lack of competition in a strictly localized world compared to the one we live in today, chances are you would. It doesn’t work like that today.
There’s a huge opportunity today for businesses—through technology—to have a mutually beneficial ongoing relationship with their end customers without compromising the role played by intermediary partners.
By taking a B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) lens and having a direct relationship with your end customer without compromising their relationship with the retailer or distributor, you can communicate with and service them – and significantly improve several business metrics. Because if you don’t—and don’t do it well—someone else will.
There’s an urgency around customer experience—now more than ever
More than two-thirds of manufacturers say COVID-19 has accelerated their adoption of digital technologies. The State of Industrial Sales & Marketing report shows that companies that had not implemented Industry 4.0 before the pandemic not only found themselves struggling through 2020, but have also found it more difficult to catch up, due to constraints of their systems and processes. The takeaway? Now is the time to develop a business model that places your focus where it belongs: the customer.
A customer-centric business model centers around three principle parts that connect the people, product, and purchase. Paired with a single source of truth, these three key areas can be digitally transformed to shine a light on the interactions between areas of the business that were previously siloed.
Let’s discuss how each connecting point helps transform a digitally powered B2B2C model from the traditional B2B.
Connect with people
For businesses to move to a digitally powered B2B2C model, it’s important to approach it in stages. Otherwise, the task ahead can seem onerous. A good place to start is with customer information—building a master database of all of the organizations and individuals you have a connection with.
From a customer’s likes and dislikes to order history, use a system to collate and consolidate your information. Most importantly, ensure data collection is automated where possible and flows into one central place.
Connect through the product experience
Companies who’ve found success understand that there’s a quality product, and then there’s a quality product experience. A whopping 91 percent of customers say they would use an industry-specific online knowledge base to research their questions. What’s in it for you? Providing potential buyers with this information can offer valuable insight into products of interest that are researched but have yet to be bought. (Hello, pipeline velocity and upsell opportunities!)
“The other side of the customer experience coin comes from the manufacturer providing that better buying experience,” explains Alyssa Suchy, manufacturing sales director at Simplus. Alyssa believes that buyers are willing to pay a premium, but they also want assurance and a clear understanding of what comes with that premium. “This is where we see a genesis of customer service SKUs wrapped around the physical SKUs that organizations have been selling for decades,” she added.
By identifying the most significant opportunities at the outset, you can set achievable targets to demonstrate value, which helps engage stakeholders across the business.
Connect through easy purchasing
When you integrate finances into a single source of truth, you can automate strategic financial processes and gain insight into profitability across the multiple individual aspects of the business. In other words, you are likely tracking customer data, inventory, vendors, and the like. Why not make this process easier with a self-service portal?
Recent studies show that 81 percent of customers prefer to handle their own purchases through a personal payment portal when they decide to buy rather than wait for a sales rep. It’s a win, win. As your sales team monitors those automated orders, they can refer to the customer’s order history, quickly ensure product availability, shipping costs, and generate product price quotes or discounts that mesh well with the customer’s expectations.
Today’s connected world has given the customer far more involvement in the brand-customer relationship. Embracing technology and undertaking a digital transformation journey paves the way to a frictionless customer experience, in turn strengthening the business and creating a platform for growth. To learn more about how your organization can double down on delivering the ideal customer experience, check out our white paper, How to Create a Customer-Centric Manufacturing Business.
Connect with our Manufacturing Center of Excellence today. Our manufacturing experts have a breadth and depth of knowledge that spans manufacturing sub-industry nuances, working with 84 of Forbes G2K clients in manufacturing. Whether you are interested in a strategic partner for advisory and change management, implementation and integration, or ongoing managed services our team is here to help.