Customer Centricity in manufacturing is about putting the customer at the core of all business and manufacturing processes. In the past, this was the job for resellers and distributors. But times are changing.
What does customer centricity mean for manufacturers?
In a customer-centric organization, all business decisions are made in the interest of the customer. What follows is that all business operations (including culture and values) must be aligned with the needs of the customer.
In manufacturing, this means taking a holistic view of the business to identify how each business unit responds to the needs of its customers. This includes providing the right products and services that customers need, at the right time and in the way they need them. In doing so, the customer perceives a superior buying experience, greater value, and thus a higher return on their investment.
There is an important distinction to point out. Being customer-centric is not the same as being customer-focused or declaring that your customers are what is most important to your business. Customer centricity is about transforming your business processes to serve the needs of the customer, first and foremost.
Why do manufacturers need customer centricity?
Customers today have access to unlimited information; they are more resourceful and more in control over their buying journey than ever before. Manufacturers who are unable to respond to these new trends will lose potential customers and fail to retain existing ones. Customer Centric is the best way for manufacturers to stay competitive and ensure a sustainable future.
Manufacturers that are considering how to become truly customer-centric need to look at the entire relationship with their customer (customer lifecycle) from their first interaction to where they are currently (from marketing to customer success and everything in between) and ensure they are engaged in responding to their needs every step of the way.
The buying journey is the hand bar of customer centricity
By the time a buyer engages with a vendor, they have already completed 70% of the buying process. This means that by the time the customer contacts you, they have a good idea of what they want and that you have it, so your sales rep can help the buyer with the remaining 30%.
Manufacturers need to recognize that they cannot sit back and wait for customers to contact them. Instead, manufacturers need to look at the entire buying journey and ensure they are supporting the customer at each step. A buyer that is dissatisfied, confused, or just does not find the information they need, will seek out a vendor that offers what they are looking for.
For this reason, the buying journey is where B2B businesses need to start if they want to become customer-centric. This is where first impression is made, and where a prospect decides whether or not to trust you.
The importance of customer centricity for manufacturers
Manufacturers today face an existential crisis. The pandemic that triggered a much-anticipated recession that became a catalyst for change. Manufacturers today understand that in such a competitive environment, customer centricity is the key to gaining and retaining customers. Manufacturers can no longer rely on product centricity or engage in race-to-the-bottom-price-wars.
Becoming customer-centric involves the entire organization, and it should start with the areas that have the biggest impact on the customer experience: the buying journey. A smooth, uncomplicated and fast buying journey increases the likelihood of a final deal (Gartner) and is the cornerstone for a long and trusting relationship.
The technological barriers that prevented manufacturers from offering a superior buying journey, no longer exist. Manufacturers need to fill in the gaps by embracing digital technologies for the benefit of the customer. Meeting customer needs can also ensure a sustainable future for manufacturers.
This article was first published by Mateo Bornico, CPQ enthusiast at Tacton, on the Tacton CPQ blog.