How B2B Manufacturers are Driving Revenue and Competitive Advantage with a Superior B2B Customer Experience (Part 5)
Legacy B2B digital platforms were underperforming well before COVID-19, but the effects of supply chain disruption and changing customer behaviour have emphasised an urgent need to change. When executed correctly, the right B2B customer experience technology can support manufacturers to drive rapid improvements. Manufacturers will be able to improve customer retention and increase revenue but the benefits of improving customer experience go beyond revenue generation.
Part 1 of our CX blog series highlighted the reasons why manufacturers need a CX System?
Part 2 discussed why design-led CX is becoming the next big thing for B2B manufacturers.
Part 3 tackled the unique complexities for B2B manufacturers compared with B2C retailers.
In Part 4, we explained how B2B Manufacturers can reduce churn and increase basket value with SAP CX.
In Part 5, we discuss how B2B Manufacturers are driving revenue and competitive advantage with B2B customer experience technology. Implementing an intelligent CX system can help to deliver such a positive customer experience as well as streamline operations and increase efficiency. A CX platform that enables manufacturers to harness the power of advanced technology such as AI, real-time analytics, automation and machine learning can deliver huge gains in productivity as well as providing a seamless customer journey. A unified commerce platform can aggregate customer and product data across the supply chain and take full advantage of customer process digitalisation.
Today’s B2B customer wants real-time visibility of the supply chain, such as stock availability and delivery times. This is critical to the sales process because if you can’t promise a delivery date to the customer that could stop the order from being placed. Many manufacturers of all sizes are reaping the rewards of replacing traditional manual and call centre integrations and removing bottlenecks by putting the responsibility for interaction with the manufacturer back onto the customer. This enables them to realise efficiency gains because they are no longer limited by how many sales agents they have. This approach also minimises mistakes because the processes involving the customer are automated and the customer is empowered to self-serve.
In the production run, if someone has taken an element of an order wrong it can be quite a costly mistake which then becomes a customer service issue. Processing orders in the old way, using an extranet and relying on manual processes, carries a risk of duplication and human error. There is naturally more due diligence on the customer’s side if a manufacturer is enabling them to create their own orders online. An empowered customer is also a more confident one. If they are doing it for themselves, they will feel reassured that everything is correct.
When considering a B2B customer experience system, manufacturers need to ensure the platforms they shortlist will give them the ability to quickly accommodate changing market demands without having to change the back-end. Any digital project needs to be nimble, rather than having to undertake a ‘full-on heart surgery’ of their core systems. It’s essential to be able to decouple a CX implementation from the back-end ERP, seeing as many manufacturers are running legacy core systems which are several decades old. Being able to keep the back-end stable whilst bringing enhancements to the front-end means the organisation can be agile – making improvements to meet customer demands without disrupting the business.
As well as being agile, a good B2B customer experience platform should provide multi-lingual, multi-currency functionality. It’s rare that a midsize or large manufacturer will only have a presence in the UK. Much of the production and suppliers could be offshore, so global capabilities are key. When looking at expanding into new territories, it’s important to choose a CX system that can cope with fluctuating demand by auto-scaling to meet peak periods of customer traffic.
One of the challenges we see a lot in this industry is the fear that manufacturers will have to expose their processes and back-end data. However, we have the ability to filter and transform their product data to make sure the information in the front-end is fit for purpose. We often include some extra logic in there, for example, additional checks and balances on orders and expanding expected delivery times to provide a buffer.
Watch the session “Learning from Experience: B2B Commerce in Manufacturing” to hear about the CX challenges facing the Manufacturing sector.