“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology” -Steve Jobs
Customers’ experience with technology has transformed thanks to smartphones and wearables that allow people to complete almost any transaction with the swipe of a finger. With the increase in customers’ expectations for sophisticated technology, coupled with skyrocketing competition, manufacturers are under pressure, to create innovative, digital products with value added services that help accelerate revenue and save costs. Some industry trends that are coming up include giving more importance to providing holistic solutions and developing omni-channel engagements to make customer experiences better.
Manufacturers are building their technology strategy and business model to align with their customer journeys better, so that they can anticipate what their customers will need next – be it products or services or information. With the rise of digital, the right strategy allows organizations to build long term relationships that will help deliver value, solve problems and provide a compelling customer experience. Traditional product centric strategy is developing gaps and companies are beginning to focus on customer centric strategy to create solutions and offerings unique to a customer, providing a customized experience.
Here are 3 key considerations while beginning a journey towards being truly customer centric:
Know your Customer (KYC): Customer centricity begins by defining who your customer is and then getting to know them. Digital innovation has enabled multiple ways of capturing customer data that are helpful in building meaningful customer engagements, enhance product innovation, improve productivity and profit margins.
Technology partners have, over the years, invested in building sophisticated CRM tools and solutions. The right CRM not only captures customer data throughout the customer journey, but also delivers business insight that can be used to make key decisions around marketing , cross selling and up-selling. You also gain a clear view of key customer touchpoints and preferred channels of communication that help build a trust-based relationship. Data driven customer analysis is key to understanding your customers and applying it into the business decision making process.
Technologies like IoT helps you understand what your customers are doing with your products. And what they have to say about improving their experience with your product. Manufacturers have to be ready to quickly act on feedback, through a process that allows incorporating end user data early in the product lifecycle.
Understanding the preferences, buying patterns and lifetime value of customer is also very critical in the know your customer process.
Collaborate: Industry 4.0 brings rapid adoption of digitization, IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain to enable rational and faster decision making. Insight from customer data enables manufacturers to look at their products and services differently. Most times, customer data reveals the need for otherwise unplanned features and new ways to deliver value.
To be able to build a product or deliver a service that stems from the feedback of your users, you need to have the right technology partner ecosystem in place. This begins from research with academia to partnering with or acquiring cutting edge technology companies. Building technology partnerships helps manufacturers take products and services to their customers faster.
It is also imperative to change organizational ways of working to ensure maximum collaboration and efficiency by transforming processes, partners and talent.
Customer Centric Design: Connected products are the future of customer centricity. IoT and connected devices provide greater insight into asset utilization, predictive maintenance, and real time operational decisions that create new value for customers. Industrial manufacturers can leverage digital twins to easily adapt to changes or eliminate holdups. Customer centric design drives value by an implementable approach to digital – that is a convergence of design thinking, advanced tech, data and analytics. Building a client centric culture may not seem easy considering one’s own pressures of cost and efficiency.
It is also important to understand that customers will not always know what they need. The lack of industry knowledge or skill is a major setback for them to articulate their needs or to build a vision of what they want. Hence it is essential to not just rely on technology that gives you insights from customer data but take the leap to leverage a technology ecosystem that will enable you to deliver the unexpressed needs of your customers and be one step ahead. As the digital economy takes center stage, customer centric organizations will be far more successful than traditional product centric organizations and will define the future growth path for many industry segments.