The connected customer is in a powerful position today. Customers, armed with smart devices and access to inexpensive wireless access, want a different relationship with the brands and products they use.
These customers want more access, more information, more interaction, and more help from the products and services they buy. The relationship with industry is unlike any before in recorded history.
As seen in the recent article, Industry 4.0: What It Means for the Manufacturing Industry, new technologies are allowing manufacturers to transform all aspects of their businesses. For forward-thinking companies that consider how to leverage Industry 4.0 for customer engagement, the potential is significant.
Everyone is aware that the internet has changed the way consumers shop, shifting many experiences to digital. However, in both digital and in-person shopping, there is room for more customer engagement. While these techniques have largely been adopted in the B2C space, there are B2B and B2B2C applications too.
Manufacturers are also investing in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that integrate and enhance disparate existing systems, from operations to back office to customer relationship management (CRM).
Here are a few of the ways industries are leveraging new technologies for better customer engagement.
Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence (AI) can enable manufacturers to aggregate information and provide recommendations to customers. Many manufacturers are experimenting with virtual reality (VR) to help customers experience products before buying.
Data Integration: By integrating data from online and offline sources, manufacturers can gain a better understanding of their customers and gain a more holistic understanding of customers from initial inquiry to purchase to usage.
The Internet of Things: While many manufacturers rely on distributors to maintain relationships, companies should work more closely with their channel partners. With better data sharing, and leveraging the Internet of Things, RFID, and GPS, manufacturers can create platforms that strengthen distributor/dealer relationships.
Predictive Analytics: Predictive analytics will help drive better information post-sale and provide real-time analytics that can be commoditized and improve operational decision-making throughout the distribution network.
Other technology tools that optimize opportunities
Post-sale, manufacturers can use Industry 4.0 tools to identify additional markets, better services, and improved customer service functions. Pervasive sensing and connected devices allow companies to collect and use usage data in new ways.
Some are creating digital platforms that allow customers to use self-service functions for solutions, support, and community for functions ranging from warranty management to spare-part ordering.
Wearable devices allow for customer service to “see” products and solve problems in new ways while dynamic pricing can maximize profits. New 3D printing can help solve issues for customers in remote locations or those with urgent needs.
Proactive services allow for push notifications services that ask about usage and can recommend maintenance based on predictive usage patterns or detection of potential issues. Manufacturers can provide breakdown assistance services or usage-based billing that can be optimal for some customers.
Finally, shared data platforms allow manufacturers to work within and as a participant in supply chain management that can create more efficient material replenishment and distribution processes.
At NexTec Group, we help companies maximize the potential that Industry 4.0 provides. Our consultants work closely to identify client needs for ERP CRM software and pinpoint products like Microsoft Dynamics CRM that will enhance and improve operations.
Download the NexTec Corporate Brochure to learn more.