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The need to deliver better customer experiences (CX) has been a key focus for B2C businesses for some time. However, as products commoditise, excellent CX is becoming an important metric to differentiate companies, regardless if they’re B2C or B2B.

Although manufacturers were slow to adapt to e-commerce initially, the industry’s CX efforts are ramping up. In fact, 63.73% of manufacturers today place creating a seamless CX as a main focus for their business.

The trends driving customer experience in manufacturing

Customer experience in manufacturing

1. The need to gain a competitive advantage

Modern technology has enabled businesses to provide experiences on a global scale, making it easy for buyers to see what other businesses like yours have to offer anywhere in the world. This makes it harder for you to truly offer a USP (unique selling point), as the chances are there'll be another business that can offer the same – if not more – than you.

So, to appeal to your customers, you should focus on improving the customer journey on a continuous basis. Technology like automation, analytics and AI can help you deliver better CX as well as boost productivity and reduce cost. 

2. The blurring lines between products and services

Businesses nowadays are now looking for more than one-time transactions with their customers. Take Netflix and Spotify for example, who deliver media as a service rather than customers purchasing a single DVD or CD.

Of course, the manufacturing industry is very different to streaming businesses, but it can also benefit from servitisation. For example, offering additional services such as maintenance to compliment traditional products can secure repeat transactions with customers.

How has customer behaviour shifted in the past few years?

customer experience in manufacturing In our report produced in association with Copperberg, we surveyed over 100 manufacturing organisations to examine the current state of CXE in manufacturing.

In our findings, 55.88% of manufacturers said their customers have been shopping online more frequently over the past few years, which was predominantly driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, manufacturers also noted their clients still favour offline channels the most – suggesting that digital buying is not yet deeply ingrained in customer’s behaviour.

The pandemic has visibly impacted customer behaviour in other ways too:

  • 76% of manufacturers say their customers are more willing to adopt to remote service and support as a result of the pandemic…
  • At least half of their customers (50.00%) demand simpler and faster service
  • 53% of manufacturers also said that their customers have a lower tolerance and are more impatient since before the pandemic

Buyers have also demonstrated a greater willingness to use self-service portals (41.18%) and determination to find product and pricing information (58.82%) in order to make an informed purchasing decision. Today’s customers also expect an optimised online CX (34.31%) and a seamless integration between online and offline channels (34.31%). But some buyers (25.49%) also wish manufacturers would know them better when they ask for a particular service.

With this in mind, manufacturers need to focus on investing in analytics and business intelligence solutions. The more data that’s collected, the more patterns will appear, and manufacturers will be better informed to advise their customers on what they need (and on the right channels), before the customer realises this themselves.

The new era of manufacturing is customer centric

A uniquely tailored CXE strategy allows manufacturers to rise above individual customer expectations and nurture long-term relationships. Learn more about the state of CXE in manufacturing by downloading our report below.

Download now

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The wheels of the fourth industrial revolution, "Industry 4.0", keep turning — and the manufacturing industry has not been left behind. The industry's future is bright even after the significant blow it got from COVID-19. 
Traditionally, manufacturers could stay competitive by offering the most innovative products or using the latest technology. While these still play a role in ensuring your business stays ahead of the competition, more and more customers (particularly in B2B) are also looking for convenient experiences.
Manufacturers are increasingly relying on modern technology to run multiple aspects of their organisation, from back-end processes like HR and quality control to front-end functions like marketing automation and e-commerce.
With new innovations always on the horizon, manufacturers are amongst the businesses most susceptible to change. This was highlighted in a recent report from The Manufacturer, which found 63% of manufacturers say they’re focusing on increasing manufacturing agility over the next 12-24 months.
The manufacturer's journey requires trusted data-driven insights for sustained success. Getting people to want to adopt the technology and trust the output and insights is critical to that success.
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