Manufacturers have always struggled to know their customers. But, modern businesses have grown to encompass an omnichannel sales opportunity. Customers can place orders online, by phone, in person and in nearly any other means desirable. Unfortunately, this means manufacturers face an even greater challenge, as more customers translate into greater use of customer service. In addition, customers are continuing to demand lower prices and free shipping. But, our predictions’ post noted how manufacturers are having trouble with transforming customer input into responsiveness and enhancements to the customer experience. Those who do achieve this feat can realize significant increases in revenue and high returns. But, how do manufacturers turn their focus to the customer experience?
1. Determine What Customers Want Today.
Modern technologies can give manufacturers real-time insight into the ways products are moving in retail and online environments. But, patterns today do not necessarily reflect the needs for tomorrow. As a result, manufacturers must be wary of overproduction and focus on providing the products customers want now, not tomorrow. In other words, manufacturers need analytics from point-of-sale systems, transportation metrics and more. Furthermore, companies must extend the buying cycle to get as much information as possible from consumers.
2. Lengthen the Buying Cycle Through Interaction.
Remember the catch-phrase, “Do you want fries with that?” Well, that concept holds true in the supply chain and for manufacturers alike. Consumers may not always go for what you are offering, but they want you to offer more than you have. Essentially, this creates a stronger level of customer service, and it can turn into additional purchases. More importantly, it gives manufacturers a chance to find out more about what the customer wants.
For example, a customer is a shoe store may purchase shoes, but if offered a new brand of socks, he or she refuses. During the ensuing conversation, the representative finds out that the socks have gathered a bad reputation on social media.
While this example is a bit extreme, it highlights how a longer buying cycle can translate into insights for manufacturers. In addition, a longer buying cycle naturally improves the company’s reputation.
3. Partner With Appropriate Businesses.
Businesses are often grouped into a broad category of competitors, but businesses can work to help manufacturers become more responsive to their consumers. This can include offering like products in package deals, compiling changes in like demographics or sharing information to reduce costs across the scope of both companies’ transportation networks. In fact, manufacturers can collaborate with third-party logistics providers (3PLs), like Cerasis, to realize the benefits of collaboration and taking advantage of business-to-business (B2B) sales through integration of systems, explains Louis Columbus of Supply Chain 24/7.
Essentially, every interaction with another business increases the possible customer base by both the number of employees in the new business and the number of customers working with that specific business. As you go through the chain of business, the opportunity for enhancing customer experiences grows.
4. Take Extra Care of B2B Partners.
B2B sales are more fickle than business-to-customer sales. According to a Gallup study, reports Chief Executive, more than 70 percent of B2B companies are facing setbacks and decreases among their B2B partners because of lacking customer engagement. Since B2B sales often take place behind the public’s perception of the economy, it is important that manufacturers work to create engaging relationships through content-driven, digital experiences. This can include videos demonstrating how products work, informative blog posts that provide something free and helpful to customers and beyond. Of course, the same concept of using digital technology to engage customers can be applied to B2C sales channels as well.
5. Be There for Customers After the Sale.
We have all experienced that disheartening feeling when calling customer service and getting lost or frustrated with the lack of service offered. Manufacturers need to be present to their customers after the sale because the level of customer service provided will be shared widely on social media. More importantly, poor customer service or inability to help customers with product issues or questions will gain a huge following much faster than a positive comment.
For example, manufacturers could send out emails for high-tech products that will require updates, or they may create online video banks to teach customers how to use the products easily. The opportunity for creativity in engaging current and future customers is only limited by your imagination!
Listening to What Customers Say is the Key to a Positive Customer Experience.
These steps go back to one thing, listening. Your company should listen to what internet-connected devices are saying about customers. You should listen to what your B2B partners are saying about your products and customers. Listen to what stakeholders, employees and B2C customers are saying. If you take the time to listen, you can meet the growing expectations of a modern customer base that wants a higher level of service than past generations. Ultimately, manufacturers who do listen and focus on customer experience and service will win in the battle to increase revenue and company size.