28 Sep 4 areas manufacturers can create frictionless customer experiences
If you’re a manufacturer who hasn’t yet invested in improving the customer experience, it’s time for you to catch up. More than half of manufacturing executives say customer experience is one of their top priorities going forward, according to a 2020 survey of manufacturing executives conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. The reality is that manufacturers are increasingly under pressure to replicate the frictionless, cutting-edge customer experiences created by Amazon and similar, highly effective B2C industry titans. Customers today expect that manufacturers can deliver seamless, intuitive, self-directed buying experiences just like Amazon. And it’s not just “customers,” but your customers—customers who are driving demand upstream. These customers assume they’ll be able to access all relevant information and resources at the click of a button. And when they need customer service, they expect to get efficient, rapid resolutions every time.
There’s not a single solution for manufacturers to create these best-in-class customer experiences. To build the necessary in-house capacity and resources, manufacturers need to be prepared to make strategic, long-term investments in multiple key areas of their business. In this blog post, we’re going to explore four essential areas every forward-looking manufacturer should be investing in to create frictionless customer experiences:
Integrating technologies that proactively connect you to customers
Manufacturers’ interactions with customers have traditionally been limited in nature and—more often than not—initiated by the customer, not the manufacturer. Under this outdated relationship paradigm, customers typically are the ones to reach out to the manufacturer—to get quotes, to request product demos, to order replacement parts, to get service for existing products. However, manufacturers no longer need to sit passively by as they wait for customers to contact them. Thanks to modern technology, including the Internet of Things, manufacturers have ways of more proactively and frequently reaching out to their customers, and gathering copious data on the products their customers are using. For example, an elevator manufacturer might install a sensor in each elevator motor to continuously monitor it and automatically alert the manufacturer to potential mechanical problems, enabling the manufacturer to proactively inspect and repair the elevator instead of relying on the customer to contact the manufacturer after the elevator fails. Similarly, a manufacturer might use social media or webinars to proactively stay on customers’ radar—offering helpful tips, product ideas, and other information that adds value to customers’ lives.
How Salesforce Helps: PRM portals via Experience Cloud and a Customer 360 platform
Improving workforce flexibility to enhance employee performance
A long-standing adage in the business world is that happy employees equal happy customers. While manufacturers have traditionally offered very little flexibility to their workforce, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown manufacturers that flexibility is possible. Whether it’s allowing employees who don’t work on the production line floor to work remotely for at least part of the week, or offering more flexibility with scheduling, manufacturers have learned that their employees are more productive and more likely to stay when granted more flexibility. Moreover, enhanced workforce flexibility enables manufacturers to recruit and retain a more diverse cross-section of talent who wouldn’t—or couldn’t—even consider employment in the industry without being granted this flexibility. Thus, enhanced flexibility in the workplace is a win-win for manufacturers, making it possible to hire and keep the very best talent for the job.
How Salesforce Helps: Chatter, Slack
Enhancing manufacturing teams’ ability to share and utilize data
Many manufacturers struggle with disconnected systems for collecting and analyzing data on their customers and market trends. As a result of these outdated ERP (enterprise resource planning) and similar systems, manufacturers have traditionally not had access to the wealth of consumer insights they need to improve the customer experience. Even when the data exists within an organization, it’s often not easy for the team that generates it to readily share it with other departments and teams across the organization. Thus, manufacturers must invest in creating this connectivity across the organization. With increased consumer insights, and with increased access to these insights across the organization, marketing teams are equipped to generate more leads, sales teams are equipped to offer more of the product lineups that customers want, and IT teams are equipped to design cutting-edge, engaging digital experiences for customers.
How Salesforce Helps: Einstein Analytics, Manufacturing Cloud
Creating digital experiences tailored around what your customers want
Manufacturers have traditionally offered complicated product catalogs and other complex, non-intuitive ways to present their products. These presentations, however, don’t resonate with customers. Modern customers want to be inspired, influenced, and engaged in their buying experience. They want to come across digital experiences that make products feel accessible, personalized, and special—where customers can instantly appreciate the value they’ll get out of buying these products, and see the clear benefits of doing business with your company over any others. Manufacturers must work proactively and strategically to build these experiences—to reimagine their product catalogs, to take advantage of modern digital presentation formats.
How Salesforce Helps: B2B Commerce Cloud, Revenue Cloud, Manufacturing Cloud, Rebate Management, and Loyalty Cloud together enable a true end-to-end customer experience
Fostering customer experiences that feel authentic and personalized is not a simple endeavor. Manufacturers that want to build customer experiences that rival Amazon need to invest in more technologies that connect manufacturers proactively and routinely to customers, offer more workforce flexibility to optimize employee performance, create infrastructure and workflows that promote sharing of customer data and insights across the organization, and design modern digital experiences that resonate optimally with modern customer preferences and sensibilities.
If you’re convinced that your manufacturing organization needs to upgrade its customer experiences, please reach out to Simplus today. Our experts can help you select and implement workflows and systems, including Salesforce’s Manufacturing Cloud, that can rapidly supercharge your capacity to create and optimize modern, resonant experiences for your customers.