UK manufacturers are currently facing a host of challenges. After resisting COVID-19 and its subsequent lockdowns, they now face global supply chain challenges and must navigate the realities of life after Brexit.
At the same time, their customers expect manufacturers to deliver the same level of experience they are used to in the consumer arena.
The best hope for manufacturers when it comes to meeting these challenges and expectations is to put customers at the center of everything they do and while embracing collaborative experience management. While this doesn’t necessarily change the external forces that affect manufacturers, it can make them easier to manage.
And, by providing the best possible experience for their customers, manufacturers have a lot to gain. After all, research has shown that customers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. Additionally, these customers are more likely to stay loyal, which is essential bearing in mind that 65% of a business’s business typically comes from existing customers.
B2B is different
Being successful with B2B customers is very different from dealing with consumers. Knowing this, how can collaborative experience management help manufacturers cope with external challenges and create great customer experiences?
In order to understand the differences between B2B and B2C, it is important to remember that B2B buyers have unique needs and requirements. Sure, they can expect a similar sales and support experience to what they have in the B2C space, but that doesn’t mean manufacturers can do comparable overlays and expect results.
When it comes to buying, for example, B2B customers have considerations that B2C customers simply don’t face. These include buying on behalf of an account rather than as an individual; higher volume controls; regular replenishments that can be automated; pricing of contracts; as well as quotes and negotiated prices.
Additionally, manufacturer customers are typically well-known buyers who have had long-standing relationships with the company and are accustomed to multi-contact trips involving sales and service teams. They are also more likely to like recommendations that help them find the right product when doing research, such as recommendations imbued with detailed product information, such as product interdependencies, or recommendations on the right product. offer of products that they should consider according to their sector.
The power of collaborative experience management
The same type of differences apply to every point of contact that a B2B customer has with a manufacturer. But no manufacturer can hope to deliver the kind of experience their customers want if their departments are siled and don’t work collaboratively to deliver that experience.
Fortunately, technology can make a significant difference on this front. Ideally, manufacturers should look for technology tools that allow their marketing, sales, and IT teams to collaborate effectively and seamlessly coordinate their efforts to serve customers and increase revenue.
When it comes to marketing, the tool should meet the needs of buyers with experiences that create real revenue gains through up-sell, cross-sell, and recurring models. It should also include analytics capabilities that allow marketers to better understand how individual shoppers or groups use the manufacturer’s site and be able to perform tests to see how to improve their experience.
Additionally, the tool must operate with the understanding that as product catalogs become more complex, customers need more than self-service to be successful. This will allow for better transmission between the manufacturer’s merchant site and their sales team, making the digital channel a tool they use to sell. Relevant account information will also help them serve as experts, further enhancing the customer experience.
Finally, it should allow business users to manage most aspects of the customer experience, rather than having to rely on IT to make day-to-day changes. This will allow IT to focus on integrating back-end systems, such as ERP and CRM, with customer-centric systems such as e-commerce. This will allow manufacturers to deliver a collaborative and consistent user experience.
The next few years will see massive and continuous changes in the UK manufacturing sector. In order to remain competitive in the face of these changes, manufacturers will need to provide the best possible experience for their customers. Meeting their unique needs will require a much more nuanced approach than simply adapting B2C best practices.
Instead, by taking a collaborative experience management approach, manufacturers give themselves the best chance to differentiate themselves, ahead of the competition, and increase revenue, profitability, and customer loyalty.
About the Author
Kurt dressel, Commerce Lead for Liferay UK, is an IT executive with over 20 years of global experience supporting client companies in their digital transformation and modernization.