10 Strategies Manufacturers Can Use For Delivering An Excellent Customer Experience – Part 2

  • 72% of manufacturers predict Industry 4.0 and advanced analytics will significantly improve customer relationships and customer intelligence by 2020.
  • Manufacturers predict a 33% increase in spending to digitize and integrate channel management and marketing systems within five years.
  • Manufacturers also plan to double their investments in digitizing business models, product and service portfolios in the next five years.

manf-strategies-feature-sizedThese and many other insights are from the Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) study Industry 4.0: Building The Digital Enterprise (PDF, no opt-in, 36 pp.).  PwC has also provided an online summary of their study here. Industry 4.0’s ability to revolutionize manufacturing is evident in the series of strategies defined below for delivering an excellent customer experience. By orchestrating diverse systems throughout manufacturing operations, customers’ unique requirements can better be met. Integrating analytics and advanced workflows allow manufacturers to define the experiences their products will deliver and exceed the expectations of customers in the process. Industry 4.0 is all about unifying the diverse aspects of manufacturing and enabling products and services to deliver an entirely new and a higher level of experiences than has been possible in the past.  The following strategies, supported and strengthened by Industry 4.0, are enabling greater levels customer satisfaction and creating a foundation for continual customer experience excellence.

Part 2 – Ten Strategies For Delivering An Excellent Customer Experience

The following ten strategies can move manufacturers beyond producing products to delivering excellent customer experiences:

  1. Across the spectrum of product configuration strategies and complexity, there’s a tremendous opportunity to deliver excellent customer experiences no one is doing today. From the complex aircraft and aerospace components Boeing produces to the state-of-the-art industrial systems Bosche and Schnider Electric create and implement for their customers’ product configuration strategies are relied on extensively to reflect what customers expect in new products. The use of product configuration to enable greater levels of customer interaction in the design process is leading greater satisfaction with final products. Creating a more effective series of processes for reflecting what customers most want is a major contribution of Industry 4.0 to complex manufacturing, leading to excellent experiences. Specifically, the build-to-order (BTO), configure-to-order (CTO) and engineer-to-order (ETO) workflows in many manufacturers are acting as a constraint on what they can sell to their most valuable B2B customers. Instead of looking at these product configuration strategies as constraints, broaden their scale based on what B2B customers can’t get anywhere else. For example, if a manufacturer is competing for complex engine deals there’s a good chance none of their competitors are listening to customers and their needs for better installation coordination or clearer professional services plans. The complexity of to-order production is daunting for many manufacturers. Advanced analytics and machine learning can be used for gaining greater predictive accuracy and more flexibility for managing increasingly complex B2B customer requirements.
  2. Tie customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores to Quality Management metrics to bring customer ownership to the production center. Getting everyone on the production floor to own customer satisfaction and strive to deliver an excellent customer experience. It’s important to provide everyone associated with production feedback on how their efforts and work are making an impact on customer experiences. Manufacturers are making bold steps today to provide customers access to floor production teams working on customized, build-to-order products to enable greater collaboration and communication
  3. Track customer complaints as new product enhancements and improvements, then index them using PLM platforms into future product generations to show customers their requests are acted on. Daimler-Benz, Tesla, Toyota and many other auto manufacturers have customer listening systems and platforms that categorize customer requests and then prioritize them for inclusion in future product designs. Industry 4.0 enables more efficient integration of customer inputs to the overall production process, streamlining the series of steps from the design to delivery. All of these auto manufacturers know that one of the quickest ways to build credibility with customers are to listen to their complaints, unique requirements and needs and then include their feedback in future products. Doing this with an interactive system that can report back when a given customers’ request is included in a new product contributes to trust and leads to an excellent customer experience.
  4. Creating virtual advisory councils and continually seeking out new customers to better understand shifting expectations and how to excel at delivering experiences. Tesla’s reliance on customer feedback and its focus on continual improvement dominate the culture of the company. Tesla’s state-of-the-art factories reflect the design principles of Industry 4.0 by providing metrics that track what percentage of new vehicle features can be attributed to customer input. The use of virtual advisory councils to capture customer ideas and innovations fuel the proliferation of Industry 4.0 improvements across the fast-growing auto company. Tesla shows why it’s best to be relentless about creating and continually adding to virtual customer advisory panels as customer experiences will often shift over time. Having virtual advisory councils that serve as customer panels for feedback provides a quick way to make sure evolving customer experiences are tracked and shared across an organization.
  5. What an excellent customer experience is will be different six months from now than it is today, so it’s a good idea to track progress with bi-annual surveys.  Customers’ expectations are changing fast, and it’s best to measure them every six months to stay on track with what’s happening. Looking at perfect order performance, supply chain availability and lack of out-of-stocks and no allocations are valuable internal metrics, and it’s good to balance them with the quality of customer experience delivered.

Bottom line: Customers’ experiences and their active voice in product development are the much-needed oxygen manufacturers need to fuel new product generations and stay relevant.

In case you missed it, or would like to read it again, here is a link to 10 Strategies Manufacturers Can Use For Delivering An Excellent Customer Experience – Part 1

Louis Columbus

Director, Global Cloud Product Management at Ingram Cloud
Louis Columbus is currently serving as Director, Global Cloud Product Management at Ingram Cloud, is a frequent contributor to Forbes.com, and teaches graduate-level marketing and international business courses at a variety of universities. Previous positions include product marketing at iBASEt, Plex Systems, senior analyst at AMR Research (now Gartner), marketing and business development at Cincom Systems, Ingram Micro, a SaaS start-up and at hardware companies. Mr. Columbus’ background includes marketing, product management, sales and industry analyst roles in the enterprise software and IT industries. Louis has an MBA from Pepperdine University and completion of the Strategic Marketing Management Program at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He has taught at California State University, Fullerton: University of California, Irvine; Marymount University, and Webster University.