CRM: manufacturing smarter customer relationships

Posted on 10 Apr 2016 by The Manufacturer

Microsoft Inner Circle member K3 CRM looks at the growing role of CRM systems as the manufacturing industry enters the early stages of Industry 4.0.

UK manufacturing is no longer in decline. It’s moving into a growth phase as businesses increasingly look at new ways of remaining competitive.

CRM Infographic -K3From servitization to the Internet of Things, manufacturers are finding new ways to analyse big data, empowering their people to do one thing more effectively; understand customers and foster loyalty, to improve customer retention.

As the sector enters the early stages of Industry 4.0, it’s this emphasis on the customer that is driving efficiencies throughout the value chain, standardising the flow of information across multiple departments, processes, and production lines in order to align more closely with customer requirements.

In these dynamic times, the role of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has never been more important.

In Industry 4.0, it is the customer who dictates how a product is designed, manufactured and delivered, and businesses simply have to respond to this.

It seems ironic that in a discussion about the future of manufacturing, we’re referencing a technology that was born out of the digital Rolodexes of the 1980s, but applications such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM are as pivotal to the factory of the future, as they were to the factories of the past.

Few businesses were prepared for the advent of mass customisation in the early noughties.

Cloud CRM Digital Customer
In these dynamic times, the role of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has never been more important.

Consumers purchasing highly customised products became accustomed to this type of service, demanding individualised products, but at the same speed and cost of mass produced items.

Predictive scheduling may be smoothing out the pain of uncertain demand spikes, but how can businesses predict schedules if they are unable to accurately predict buying behaviours of customers?

Modern CRM applications help manufacturers understand the purchasing habits of their customers, rather than just reporting on transactional trends.

In order to flex production schedules to accommodate mass customisation, manufacturers first need to know what their customers require.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM utilises machine learning to measure social sentiment, informing manufacturers how their brand is being discussed across social channels, and breaking it down into various demographics, to make it easier to respond to customer requirements.

It doesn’t end there though. The trend of servitization is about delivering value to the customer, long after a part has been delivered, and often through maintenance or upkeep initiatives.

K3 ContactWith Field One functionality, Microsoft Dynamics CRM gives field service agents centralised scheduling of maintenance jobs and dispatching, to improve customer satisfaction, responsiveness levels and drive revenue through increased productivity, making servitization a reality.

For the manufacturing industry to truly ride the waves of Industry 4.0, it needs to start by bridging intelligence between ERP, CRM, and supply chain execution systems.

If you don’t understand your customers, how can you expect to respond to them effectively?