Forrester recently published a research report entitled “Center Your Manufacturing Digital Transformation On The Customer”, authored by Ashutosh Sharma, which underscored how too many manufacturing digital transformations focus on improving operational efficiencies without keeping customer expectations top of mind. (Link to download the full report below this post.)
While better connected solutions do help establish a connection with customers, manufacturers need to take the next step in order to better leverage the customer-provider relationship.
So how can manufacturing firms become more customer-centric in order to win the customer experience (CX) game?
Putting the Customer First
The traditional barriers that used to separate partners, customers, internal teams, and suppliers no longer exist. Today, all operate together in a dynamic ecosystem. And where is the customer situated in this modern ecosystem? The center; at least that’s where businesses that want to succeed should position them.
That’s because today’s customers are empowered; they’re comfortable voicing their desires and needs. Which is why, according to Sharma, CIOs and CTOs at manufacturing firms need to “make more direct and conscious efforts to understand and deliver value to this empowered customer.”
So how can they better focus on the customer?
Forrester found there are three ways in which manufacturers can begin to make this pivot.
1. Be more connected when it comes to customer data.
Customer information usually lives in silos. From marketing and customer service to product development and sales, manufacturers must prioritize initiatives that break down these silos in order to bring customer information into a single platform.
Once this data is housed in one place, a technology architecture must be deployed that allows users to make customer data actionable. For example, this data can be used to inform product design, customer support, and maintenance.
2. Align KPIs and technology with customer outcomes.
Striving towards customer outcome metrics is easier when IT isn’t an independent team with a separate budget, but better incorporated into the organization as a whole. A basic restructuring can better help departments share information and align KPIs.
3. Become customer-obsessed.
In order to have a customer-centric business, you need a customer-centric team. From leadership down to salespeople, ensure all goals and priorities are tied back to customers and improving CX. Sharma recommends leaders “pioneer concepts such as design thinking and co-creation techniques for the whole organization.”
Benefits of Being Customer-Centric
Not only can a focus on the customer help ensure manufacturing digital transformation success, it can provide other benefits to your business.
1. Reduce risk of failure.
We live in an era of short product development cycles, where businesses release newer products with greater frequency. Forrester notes that “as firms have less time to get an appropriate return on their product development investments, it becomes imperative to get the product right with the appropriate customer inputs.” Which leads us to number two.
2. Improve product design.
Collaborating with suppliers and user communities to design a new product helps ensure the customer is at the heart of the process. By going directly to the source, you can better understand pain points and get a stronger grasp of the type of functionality people respond to.
3. Build a better service-based model.
Firms that work closely with B2B users and other consumers to design solutions will improve their overall business model. Emphasizing service through co-creation, ethnography, and prototyping with the end-user in mind will ultimately help businesses design solutions that “help them win, serve, and retain these customers.”
If manufacturing CIOs take the initiative to improve the digital maturity of their businesses, they’ll be able to help differentiate their firms from their peers by making customers the focal point of their manufacturing digital transformation.
Need help getting started? CPQ can be the starting point of digital transformation for manufacturers. That’s because the FPX CPQ solution makes customer and sales data readily available to users across the organization and prioritizes a consistent customer experience that meets customer expectations.