There’s no denying the palpable sense of concern sweeping through the current business climate. However, the truth of the matter is that we’re beginning to see more and more companies digging in their heels and reframing this period of economic crisis as an opportunity to learn. Manufacturing, the industry sector with innovation at its heart is finding ways to adapt, change working practices and acclimatise to market demands. The key to success – now, even more than ever it’s about understanding your customers. There is a culture shift towards customer-centricity and away from products alone. If you’re interested in learning more on how to take a more customer-centric approach to your operations and how CRM can help your company drive top-line growth, then this article is just for you.
Becoming more customer-centric
A recent study conducted by Econsultancy asked numerous business owners what they felt was the single most important characteristic in establishing a “digitally native” culture. The overwhelming answer was customer centricity—58% of respondents felt that it was crucial to their success.
There’s been a shift from focusing on “new product development” to “new solution development” and customer experience management. Customers are no longer satisfied with simple upgrades and minor improvements when it comes to product innovation. They are becoming increasingly savvy and discerning and, as a result, demand more from the companies with which they do business than ever before.
To remain competitive, it is crucial for you, the manufacturer, to shift your focus away from creating products and towards providing the best solutions possible to your customers. True innovation isn’t just creating a product with a slightly expanded set of features just for the sake of releasing the latest update. It’s about truly getting to know your customers, their pain points, their needs, and their stories.
Instead of focusing purely on product innovation, learn to understand which innovations or features are going to be crucial in maintaining the longevity of your relationship with your consumers. What will make them happy? What will turn them into loyal brand advocates? Better customer experiences are what drive customer retention. This, in turn, creates more opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling and helps to increase the lifetime value of the customer, providing you with greater stability, profitability, and growth.
How CRM for manufacturing can help
The quality of the customer experience your company provides has the ability to make or break your business. Today’s B2B buyers don’t just place a high degree of value on the quality of their customer experience—they also share. Consumers have become increasingly active in providing feedback about the products they use, largely due to the fact that we are living in the digital age of social media where we are more interconnected with each other than ever before.
Companies looking to stay ahead of the game and remain competitive must continue to focus on creating exceptional customer experiences. In fact, recent research found that companies who stay customer-minded drive an average of 4%-8% more revenue than other companies within their industry. The Temkin Group also recently found that a whopping 73% of companies who offer “above-average” customer experiences outperform their competitors financially. But it’s not just the companies who have well-established focuses on the customer experience who reap the rewards. Recent research from Dimension Data found that an astounding 84% of companies who strive to improve their customer experiences “report an increase in their revenue”.
So, how can CRM help? CRM is the foundation for obtaining a greater understanding of your customers and being able to tap into their desires, needs, trends, behaviours, and preferences. Being able to capture customer requirements in CRM is the first step to understanding which product innovations should be a priority. That’s right—CRM can and should help drive product innovation and development.
The key here is servicisation — the modern customer requires a more solution-oriented approach where aftercare and service are bundled into the product offering. A solid manufacturing CRM can help you do just that.
This is because CRMs provide deep, granular insights into every single interaction that your company has with its customers. This includes everything from communications to purchases, buying preferences, and account status and health. When you understand which of your customers are less happy, you gain the upper hand. It enables you to take a proactive rather than a reactive approach and respond before things become an issue.
Making the transition
Are you thinking about making the transition from being product-centric to customer-centric? Manufacturers interested in getting ahead of the game need to learn to shift their culture from a focus on product and innovation to being led by their customer insights for a chance to drive impactful innovation. Gone are the days where success was measured solely by product sales. Today’s manufacturers must learn to measure success based on customer insights and the profitability of their customer segments. Instead of focusing on measuring product segments with profit and loss, manufacturers must instead learn to move to measuring customer segments with profit and loss.
In today’s day and age, the marketplace is rapidly evolving, and consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about the companies with which they do business and the products they purchase. Focusing on being product-centric isn’t what’s going to bring you in for the win. Customer value is king, and if your customers aren’t satisfied, they’ll gladly search elsewhere. And just as satisfied customers have the potential to become loyal brand advocates, dissatisfied customers have the potential to become detractors. Innovation and product development must be in line with market requirements. Then and only then can you effectively drive ROI, keep your customers satisfied, and create a truly sustainable business model.