How can digital transformation help manufacturers deliver better customer experiences (CX)?

Posted on 11 Apr 2024 by The Manufacturer

In recent years, companies across all sectors have faced significant disruptions, ranging from evolving customer preferences to demand fluctuations and complex planning systems. This has compelled businesses to reassess their growth strategies. With global dynamics in flux, modern manufacturers are under pressure to expedite their digital transformation initiatives.

Today, eCommerce and social commerce have gained widespread traction across various industries, including manufacturing, which, like others, has adapted its operations to navigate the challenging landscape.

A notable shift towards direct-to-consumer models has emerged as manufacturers streamline their supply chains and enhance the value they are delivering to customers.

However, alongside this trend, many manufacturers find themselves grappling with fragmented, outdated, and incomplete customer data. In a fiercely competitive landscape, falling behind in digital transformation is not an option.

Benefits of digital transformation for manufacturers turning to AI

Amidst challenges like incomplete and siloed customer data, embarking on digital transformation can deliver a competitive advantage to manufacturers. Beyond this, embracing digital initiatives can bolster customer retention, acquisition efforts, and overall revenue growth. Robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions enable manufacturers to efficiently manage customer information, including addresses, contact details, purchase history, and support interactions.

According to McKinsey, 80% of sales leaders reported that deploying omnichannel methods significantly enhances sales processes. Besides aiding sales representatives in managing daily tasks, digital transformation initiatives offer several benefits to manufacturing enterprises:

  • Enhanced production efficiency and sustainability
  • Development of resilient supply chains and transparent inventory management
  • Reduction in operational costs

The advent of artificial intelligence (AI), including generative AI innovations, empowers manufacturing firms to elevate customer interactions and deliver superior CX.

AI is repositioning CRM as the nucleus of CX, furnishing the foundational technology necessary for engaging customers and fostering repeat business.

CRM + ERP integration: A must-have for manufacturers

While some manufacturers contend with ERP systems of limited functionality, others haven’t integrated their CRM with ERP systems, resulting in disparate data views. By integrating ERP and CRM solutions, manufacturers can enhance operational efficiency and drive revenue growth.

Additionally, integration yields other benefits:

  • Facilitates cross-departmental collaboration
  • Improves decision-making processes
  • Expedites customer service efforts
  • Boosts revenue

In the realm of digital transformation, customers wield significant influence, compelling manufacturers to distinguish themselves or risk irrelevance, particularly in highly competitive marketplaces.

How customer experience (CX) drives success for manufacturers

Strategies for manufacturers to differentiate and elevate CX

One way that manufacturers can differentiate is by consistently providing an outstanding CX. According to recent research by PwC, exceptional CX can allow companies to charge a premium of up to 16% on products and services, and to foster greater customer loyalty and retention.

Consistency is paramount in CX. To drive market success through superior CX, manufacturers must maintain consistency across all customer touchpoints/channels, especially in an omnichannel landscape. Customers should encounter consistent CX standards across automated chat solutions, self-help portals, emails, calls, etc.

Generative AI technologies present opportunities for manufacturers to significantly grow their businesses. These technologies enhance CX by personalising marketing campaigns, emails, and blogs, thereby improving customer engagement. Moreover they aid interactions between service teams and customers, expediting issue resolution and improving customer satisfaction.

Customer interactions should consistently prioritise personalisation and customisation. Digital intelligence now makes it easier for manufacturers to provide seamless experiences, considering factors such as customer history, preferences, and past issues.

A robust CRM with generative AI capabilities facilitates the development of products and solutions tailored to customer needs. Such tools streamline customer information capture and utilisation across departments.

Understanding the customer is pivotal in creating a unique CX. By collecting and leveraging high-quality customer data, manufacturers can tailor products and services across multiple channels.

Customer-centric digital transformation initiatives can significantly improve CX, leading to improved customer retention and revenue growth in the manufacturing industry.

For further insights on enhancing CX and achieving market success in competitive sectors like manufacturing, refer to our guide “Connecting the Manufacturing Value Chain” or reach out to SugarCRM for a discussion.

For more articles like this, check out our Digital Transformation channel.