Customer Centricity for 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 for manufacturers mean?
In a customer-centric organization, all business decisions are made with the customers’ interests in mind. What follows is that all business operations (including culture and values) need to be aligned to the needs of the customer.
In manufacturing, this means a holistic view of the business is needed in order to identify how each business area is responding to the needs of their customers. This involves providing the right products and services that customers need, at the right time and in the way they need it. In doing so, the customer perceives a superior buying experience, a higher value, and thus a higher return on their investment.
There is an important distinction worth pointing 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, so they 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 of their buying journey than ever before. Manufacturers that are not equipped to respond to these new trends will lose potential customers and fail to retain existing ones. Becoming customer-centric is the best way for manufacturers to remain 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 would have already completed 70% of the buying journey. This means that by the time they contact you, the customer has a good idea of what they want and that you have it, leaving your sales rep to 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 every step. A buyer that is dissatisfied, confused, or simply does not find the information they need, will seek out a vendor that provides them with what they are looking for.
It is for this reason that the buying journey is where B2B businesses need to start if they aim to become customer-centric. This is where first impressions are made, and where a prospect will decide to trust you or not.
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 is 3X more likely to increase the final deal size (Gartner) and it is the building block to 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. Ensuring that the customer needs are met 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.