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The customer is at the heart of any business. Without exception, what customers experience on their journey is always reflected in a company’s bottom line. Such an outlook in and of itself is convincing enough for manufacturers to pursue a more customer-centric approach within their organizations. But in today’s climate, consisting of several macro-environmental challenges and radical changes in customer expectations and behaviors, the importance of providing a frictionless customer experience (CX) is growing and gaining momentum.

Author Radiana Pit | Copperberg

Photo: Freepik

Ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, droves of buyers have flocked online to engage more digitally with manufacturing firms. From conducting product research and comparisons to making big purchases online, B2B buyers have come to expect a uniquely customized, relevant, and seamless CX that helps streamline their otherwise time-consuming decision-making process. The smoother the CX, the easier and faster they can make a buying decision. And for many manufacturers, that is the ultimate goal of the customer journey.

CX is essential in meeting business objectives

Any customer journey consists of several interactions that the customer experiences at different touchpoints that are designed with a clear objective in mind—to facilitate a quick and effortless buying decision. Beyond that, many manufacturing leaders also aim at higher customer retention and lower customer acquisition costs. 

According to The State of Customer Experience and Engagement Within Manufacturing, nearly all manufacturers feel that coherent CX plans are essential in meeting their business objectives. The same report shows that the majority of survey respondents, up to 74.51%, consider that having a clear CX strategy is key in achieving business objectives this year. 

This indicates that CX is a powerful vehicle for manufacturers to drive meaningful results—as long as the road ahead is mapped out and unambiguous. Otherwise, a lack of clarity regarding business goals and plans will reverberate in the experiences delivered to the customers. Once established, business objectives serve as the foundation upon which experiences can be built. 

For example, to retain customers, manufacturers need to invest time in understanding their customers by developing buyer personas. Based on that understanding, they can proceed by mapping out the customer journey for them, including all the interactions and touchpoints that will keep the customers engaged and guide them toward a purchase, repurchase, or subscription.

Customer loyalty and CX are mutually dependent

Although most manufacturers understand the importance of devising a clear CX strategy to meet their business objectives for the current year, many survey respondents (19.61%) consider this to be only somewhat important. For some, this means that other priorities are higher on the list, undoubtedly related to gaps in digital maturity and supply chain resilience. 

For others, it means that they lack the skills and talent to take their CX delivery to the next level. However, for both categories, CX remains in focus as a method for maximizing business value and creating a strategic advantage in a globally competitive environment.

Last but not least, there are also those who are complacent with their established customer bases and long-term relationships with their regular clients. As research indicates, many survey respondents (63.73%) place a top priority on devising seamless CX. Yet, as they further reveal, the effort to build up a smooth CX doesn’t take the most important position on their organization’s priority list.

Considering that the post-pandemic customer has digital-first expectations, manufacturers may feel a false sense of security from their old customer relationships. Regardless of how long a customer has stayed with a manufacturer before and regardless of how well the manufacturer has come to know that customer, their expectations and buying behavior have changed significantly over the past two years. Throughout the pandemic, CX has impacted customer loyalty and it will continue to do so moving forward.

Many loyal customers have churned the moment their experience was disrupted either by lack of support, lack of direction toward the next touchpoint, lack of product information, and other inconsistencies throughout their journey. As such, ensuring that customers get a frictionless omnichannel experience across all touchpoints is vital. 

Overall, it can cost much less to provide superior CX to customers than it would to compromise relationships and struggle to acquire new customers. This resonates with 50.98% of survey respondents whose CX efforts are aimed at improving customer retention and minimizing churn. Likewise, according to the survey report: 

“More than half of all respondents (66.67%) advocate for the critical importance of delivering excellent CX in an omnichannel environment. Plus, a little over a fifth of manufacturers (24.51%) recognize that capitalizing on the promise of omnichannel is somewhat important in providing a seamless CX.”

As this research indicates, manufacturers are becoming more sophisticated in their approach, now leveraging omnichannel CX to drive personalized engagement across channels and realize long-term value by unlocking new revenue streams.

EXPERT INPUT

Broken Promises Break Trust!

Whilst striving to deliver a high-quality customer experience, it is worth remembering that failing to meet a promised delivery can undo all of the hard-earned progress that a manufacturer may have achieved in improving the customer touch points. Accurate and timely supply chain and production planning systems provide near real-time assessments of the viability of meeting customer requirements. Going even further than this, systems are now available that will identify risks through multiple levels of the supply chain and make recommendations on alternative courses of action.

Maximizing the lifetime value of CX

CX has always been an intrinsic part of value planning but in recent years, it has become a critical part of meeting business objectives, unlocking new revenue streams, increasing customer retention, and decreasing the cost of customer acquisition. Especially today, CX is at the core of ensuring customer loyalty via frictionless and relevant omnichannel experiences throughout a customer journey that is expected to streamline an otherwise complicated B2B buying process. 

As excellent CX has become the gold standard in a post-pandemic, digital-first era, all manufacturers are expected to abide by it. Today’s modern customers have bigger expectations than ever before in an environment where every product or service provider is fighting for their attention with promises of value and positively memorable experiences.

What does this mean for CX-focused manufacturers? How can they fully seize the opportunity that CX creates for value planning, business growth, and a loyal customer base? Find out by downloading the survey report—it will help you understand the current state of CX in manufacturing and how it is shaping the future of the industry with best practices and technologies that facilitate seamless interactions with customers across all touchpoints.

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