Customer experience isn't only for B2C businesses. As this ERB article points out, business customers are increasingly coming to expect a more "consumer-like" experience from their B2B purchases as well. This has a lot to do with the new generations of business buyers growing up in a world with Amazon and similar customer-focused stores. They don't want to lose the ease and accessibility of quick online purchases, and don't want to spend hours on the phone with sales people unless it's absolutely necessary.
So, even in sectors like manufacturing, it's becoming increasingly important to focus on your customers, and building a good customer experience. Otherwise, you're at risk of losing them to other operations with better CX!
Here, we put together a shortlist of recommendations to help your manufacturing business remain competitive in today's digital world:
"Understand that your customers are your business. Of course, you value your customers. You prove that by tailoring your business approach to meet their needs. A significant number of manufacturers polled (38%) revealed that their desire to improve customer experience is what drives them to invest in e-commerce solutions."
1. Embrace digital transformation
At this point, a company which still isn't doing business with a focus on data gathering and integration is putting itself at a severe disadvantage. Providing good CX is almost impossible without strong data-focused policies backing it up. You should be thoroughly tracking your customers through multiple outlets - their paths through your website, their purchasing decisions, and any contact they have with Sales or Customer Service. This will allow you to present a more streamlined and unified customer experience, while also gathering plenty of actionable information to help you improve your products, services, and online outlets in the future.
2. Invest in more ecommerce solutions and online shops
"42% of manufacturers are investing in e-commerce solutions that will make online buying much more efficient."
Are you still requiring your buyers to call in, even to make minor or recurring purchases? Chances are, they don't enjoy this process. Today, every manufacturer should have options for do-it-yourself online shopping, particularly for basic items and purchases. Recurring or repeat purchases, in particular, should be streamlined as much as possible. Ordering from you should never seem like a chore.
This doesn't mean you should fire your human salespeople, of course, but their focus should be on larger orders, customization, and Account Based Marketing outreach. Don't make your customers sweat the small stuff.
3. Personalize your online outlets
Personalization is one of the keys to great CX - and it's another feature that requires digital transformation to do well. Returning customers should get personalized recommendations - in an Amazon style fashion - or buttons that allow them to quickly and smoothly place repeat orders. Personalization can also be applied to your marketing, such as sending out emails notifying customers about new products and services that they, personally, are likely to be interested in based on their purchasing profile. Buyers appreciate when a company really seems to be trying to target their own needs, rather than using one-size-fits-all 'mass market' style marketing tactics.
4. Expand methods for contacting you
How many different options do customers have for reaching out to customer service, or technical support? If you only do telephone and email, there should be more options available - such as allowing customers to contact you via social media, or adding a chatbot to your website to handle basic inquiries. If buyers have numerous easy ways to reach out to you, that means their issue will be resolved that much more quickly - and rapid issue resolution is a major aspect of CX that often goes overlooked.
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