Manufacturers are starting to focus on their online experience in a big way, and it's a good thing. Modern B2B buyers are expecting more robust digital support from their business partners, even in fields like industrial manufacturing which was typically less concerned about digital sales. Today, a manufacturer can easily distinguish themselves by offering a rich and user-friendly experience, giving buyers a reason to stay loyal rather than shopping around.
How is it happening? A recent Thomas trends study gives some very concrete answers - and they match up to our own experience helping manufacturers embrace digital transformation. If you're getting the sense your customers are unhappy with their digital options, these would be some of the best areas to focus on.
Three Ways To Provide A Better Digital Customer Experience In Manufacturing
1. Offer more information, in more formats
One of the biggest shifts in buyer attitudes in recent years is that the younger generations - pretty much anyone under 40 - really don't like making phone calls. And these are increasingly the people making mid-level purchasing decisions. They genuinely dislike being forced to call up salespeople just to obtain basic product information or technical documentation, and will typically prefer vendors who make it easier to get that information.
So a great way to distinguish yourself from the competition is to make this sort of information freely available on your website, or through other sources. Include a Knowledge Base or similar system where prospective buyers can look up most of the information they'd need to make an informed purchasing decision. Likewise, make technical information available in relevant computer formats, such as including schematics as CAD/BIM files, or providing performance data as importable Excel spreadsheets.
Finally, consider implementing chatbots. Chatbots can be an excellent alternative to "level 1" style customer service and support, even if they only act as interactive FAQs. Smarter bots can potentially even offer more services, such as directing customers to sales pages, or setting up live callbacks/chatbacks if the bot cannot handle the problem itself.
2. Add more configuration options to your online purchasing system
That Millennial/Zoomer distaste for doing business over the phone extends to sales and purchases as well. Yes, sometimes you simply need to talk over the phone or Skype to hash out details in complicated deals, but that's usually not the case when someone just wants to buy some materials or components.
So, the more robust and user-friendly your online purchasing system is, the more likely you are to lure in more buyers looking for a quick and easy way to buy what they need. In particular, try to integrate as many configuration options as possible. Don't force people to call in unless it's under unusual circumstances, or they need to order custom work.
3. Make more videos
Right now, video is the way to boost brand awareness and knowledge of your products. Videos are widely viewed across every level of business, all the way up to the executive suite. Plus, videos are shareable, and particularly notable examples can even go viral among your buyers. They're probably the single most effective form of digital content a company can invest in, at the moment.
Diversity is the key to success. Don't only make openly promotional sales videos. You should also produce plenty of content which is purely informative, such as product tutorials, machine tear-downs, and repair guides. Beyond increasing your mindshare, freely producing such content will also build goodwill. Again, it really comes down to providing as much digital information as possible, so that buyers can make their own decisions before making a purchase.
Expand Your Training And Communication Options With LogicBay
Videos are also excellent for training content, and can potentially even be monetized, such as through authorized repair center programs. LogicBay makes it easy to put all your training materials in one place, and even set up extended curriculum to guide workers or contractors through extended training sessions. With integrated chat, message boards, and now Skype integration, LogicBay services allow you to quickly diversify internal training and communication.