How CRM can help manufacturers prioritise CX in the new digital era

How CRM can help manufacturers prioritise CX in the new digital era

By Jason du Preez, SVP and GM APAC at SugarCRM

In the current market where manufacturing companies are having to navigate significant challenges such as volatile supply chains, staff shortages, compliance, and regulations, rising energy costs and sustainability targets, the ability to meet ever-changing customer demands can sometimes be deprioritised. But, now more than ever, manufacturers need a high-definition customer experience fit for the digital era.

Regardless of what you are selling and to whom, customers expect businesses to know and understand their likes and dislikes, reacting to their needs, to enable them to use a service with ease and convenience. Customers want seamless transactions across devices and high-definition experiences that allow 24/7 access to customer care, with recommendation engines leading even B2B buyers toward their next purchases.

Manufacturing companies fundamentally have a broad and deep scope of activity to create, sell, deliver, and service products for their customers. It’s no longer enough to provide the best product or service, emphasis now lies in delivering a great first impression and repeating that performance with consistency and excellence to form and build a relationship to achieve customer loyalty. It is therefore important for forward-thinking businesses to use a CRM system that provides practical value to help manage their customers.  

The CRM application doesn’t have to be flashy, but the connected workflows should optimise every key interaction, to create alerts and the right course of action to resolve issues. Critically, users should want to use it as user adoption is one of the most important factors for CRM success.

Differentiate with exceptional CX

The key to setting your business apart from your competition begins with providing a customer experience that is consistently better and more memorable at every touchpoint. This involves capturing relevant insights about customers and using them to deliver high quality experiences. Modern best-of-breed CRM software has emerged as the key solution for customer-first transformation as it does just that.

A clear and comprehensive view of all your customer data in your CRM is vital to gain a deeper understanding of customers’ needs as they research, shop and use a product or service. However, when it comes to traditional CRM systems, many of those who stand to benefit most still find it complicated, time-consuming and difficult to find the information they need.

The manufacturing sector is unique, which is why a basic bolt-on CRM module such as those offered by many Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERPs) often won’t meet the needs of customers or be flexible enough to adapt to their complex processes. Manufacturers can risk losing customers because of poor customer experience, due to gaps in their customer data and the inability to deliver the expected service at every touch point.

Why should manufacturers consider a best-of-breed CRM?

For manufacturers with an ERP solution already in place, using the ERP bolt-on CRM solution may seem like a straightforward option. However, for manufacturing businesses with specific and complex needs, this approach can have several drawbacks.

Many ERP solutions lack the flexibility and sophistication that is required by manufacturers to support the Product-as-a-Service model. Best-of-breed CRM can address the complex needs of modern manufacturers and enable them to deliver an outstanding customer experience.

This includes:

  • Improving customer satisfaction by empowering employees with a 360° view of their customers, showing previous conversations and essential ERP data, such as products, orders and billing, to avoid blind spots and increase sales and speed up resolution.
  • Ensuring effective routing and smart escalations, such as routing to inhouse product experts using flexible workflows.
  • Access to metrics and insights into customer and product issues to help improve internal processes and product development.

As ERP CRMs are often hosted in-house, they can require an ongoing programme of costly customisation. Best-of-breed CRMs can instead be hosted on the Cloud, as well as premise, providing users with the advantages of ongoing upgrades and innovation.

A seamless future ahead using the right CRM platform

A best-of-breed CRM platform can give manufacturers the full picture of their customer data, as well as the analytics to interpret it to make more informed decisions. This includes which customers to pursue to increase revenue, how sales teams are performing and how to improve customer experience and loyalty.

Exceptional customer experiences can be delivered with a CRM solution that’s designed specifically with manufacturers in mind, as well as the key customer-facing teams that use them such as marketing, sales, service teams, IT and finance. When a high functioning and easy-to-use system is in place, the whole team can work together seamlessly to deliver exceptional customer experiences fit for the new digital era.

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