The customer experience in manufacturing: Taking cues from utilities

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What happens after your customers buy your products? Is that the end of the transaction? Hardly.

Today, a customer’s relationship with your business doesn’t end at the completion of a sale. Rather, your relationship with customers is ongoing. The first sale is just part of the lifecycle. The customer experience in manufacturing is all-encompassing, as it is for all industries.

However, few industries have mastered the customer experience lifecycle like utilities.

Customer experience in manufacturing: Staying connected 

The nature of the utilities business requires that companies remain highly connected to their customers. Utilities maximize their returns when they can minimize customers’ energy use.

That means it’s in utilities’ best interest to prevent or quickly resolve customers’ energy problems. Unnecessary or accidental energy use costs the customer and the company – and this cost is rising. Consider the risk and toll of brownouts and rolling blackouts, which happen when utilities aren’t prepared for spikes in demand.

Keeping conscious about energy use is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. So, utilities have worked hard to make it easy for customers to stay connected and learn exactly how much energy they’re using.

Then, they pair that with tailored tips on how customers can reduce their energy use for greater savings. Many utilities have found success providing this information in online customer portals that also connect customers to service and support.

Ready access to customer data also empowers utilities’ service representatives to better serve customers. Reps have a complete history of a customer’s energy use as soon as they’re connected to the customer, whether that engagement takes place over the phone or in an online chat. This underscores the importance of multichannel customer service options.

Improving customer experience in manufacturing 

Manufacturers have a lot to gain by compiling and providing access to relevant customer data in a customer portal.

Consider this: How much faster could your customer service reps help customers if they began every service engagement knowing what products that customer has bought from you or your certified dealers?

You can also improve the customer experience by proactively providing customers with tips and advice on how to make the most of your products and services. Many manufacturers are enhancing their customer portals by offering relevant product information, such as user manuals, and embedding access to comprehensive spare parts catalogs for products owned.

Details matter: CX, manufacturing, and the role of IoT 

The Internet of Things (IoT) empowers your business to gather data on machine use, including how often and when customers run your machines.

When your devices are part of an IoT-enabled network, they can provide vital insights on their own performance, including downtime and repairs. These insights empower your reps – or your dealers’ reps – to visit a customer with immediate and intimate knowledge of that customers’ machine use, recent purchases, challenges they’re facing with your machines, and so on.

It’s hard to make a convincing sale or improve the customer experience in manufacturing without up-to-date information on how your products are being used or operated. Even worse, consider the consequences of trying to sell to a customer who is currently struggling with the machines they’ve already bought from you. Your reps – and your overall business – walk away from that engagement looking out of touch at best.

Why should anyone buy from a business that doesn’t seem capable of telling its customers apart? IoT helps manufacturers avoid customer churn.

How manufacturers can harness the power of IoT for better CX

The IoT and other intelligent technologies enable manufacturers to proactively engage with customers, so they can help them resolve their problems quickly or prevent these problems from ever happening at all.

For instance, what if you set up a sensor that could automatically reach out to customers whose machinery unexpectedly goes offline? This sensor could direct your customer to machinery manuals, help documents, and customer support channels. You could even set it up to alert employees at your own company about the outage and spur them to reach out to the customer personally.

Customers come to you with their experiences from other industries and businesses fresh on their minds. Other industries, such as utilities and retail, have practically reinvented themselves to meet customers’ needs with innovative new offerings. Manufacturers must do the same in order to remain competitive.

B2B customers expect B2C experiences. Learn more about how manufacturers can deliver outstanding CX HERE.

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John Fisher

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