A Manufacturing Year in Review: The move to Customer-Centricity and Digitalization
Let’s face it, the beginning of 2020 was dramatically different from where we are with less than a month left in the year. The pandemic has changed how we do everything about how we work, every industry has had to find new ways to work efficiently. Manufacturing has faced a difficult pivot, with many production lines having to close while searching for solutions to do more with less.
We wrote our annual trends guide in January of this year, how do those look in retrospect?
Like the majority of people we couldn’t foresee the COVID-19 pandemic that would disrupt every industry, manufacturing included. Trends such as online customer self-service have increased dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic. With more than 70% of B2B decision-makers preferring remote human interaction or digital self-service since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic (McKinsey), it stands true that self-service is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Effective sales tools was a trend we forecasted as well, solutions such as CPQ have seen an uptick in interest. G2 notes that searches for Quote-to-Cash software saw a 48 percent jump and CPQ software traffic increasing 22 percent in the first weeks of the pandemic alone. That gives support to the idea that CPQ software is increasing efficiency in manufacturing, and buyers are beginning to note the importance of accurate quoting, sales, and improved operations.
So, what has Tacton learned talking with our customers about not only the challenges of 2020 but the opportunities for 2021 and beyond?
Now is the time to move online
Every customer and prospect we’ve talked to since March has had one similar question, “what a customer empowered digital commerce journey can look like?” A simple answer would be to provide an exciting way to buy manufacturing products. A potential customer wants to interact with your products anytime and anywhere regardless of channel.
That may seem impossible with highly configurable products, but it’s easier than ever with Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software. Integrated directly into your website, CPQ can empower your customers, anonymous or not to build your products online, complete with powerful visualizations. Without a smart CPQ system, it can be exceedingly difficult for you to provide a one of a kind online buying experience complete with automated and expedited quotes.
(The new buying journey)
Empowering anyone to configure products
An issue many manufacturers have is making it difficult for anyone other than product experts to create valid, and optimized product quotes. Guided selling can empower anyone, regardless of product knowledge, to create optimized products. With a few simple questions based on what they need, customers can start the configuration process from anywhere. Complete with visualization your customers can see what’s changed when they add or subtract certain product features. Guided selling isn’t just for customers. Your sales team will benefit by quickly being able to quote products regardless if they are a senior salesperson or new to the organization.
Connecting end-to-end processes is more important than ever
Manufacturers have also struggled with silos in their business, sales, marketing, engineering and customer-service have had trouble staying on the same page. Disconnected processes lead to product order errors, disappointed customers and discounted products. Creating a way to work in comfortable environments for your teams. With the wealth of data from different systems, it can be difficult to leverage customer buying info into actionable insights. That’s why it’s critical to optimize the information flow from the various systems that are used. CRM, ERP, CAD and more can all be connected using CPQ integrations.
Opportunity is knocking are you ready?
With such uncertainty in the manufacturing industry, it may seem like now is the time to stand pat and weather the storm. But now is the time to invest in solutions that connect you better to your buyer by creating a way for them to buy from anywhere. Making it easier to buy will ensure your company gets to continue innovating while worrying less about order errors because using CPQ offers the optimal solution every time. Every year we see a further shift to customer-centricity, 2021 will no doubt demand manufacturers become more online and omnichannel.