Over the years, the digital revolution has seen a rise in customers demanding a better experience from companies. The ease with which terrible experiences of customer service can be shared on the numerous social media platforms available today has forced many companies to treat their customers better. While advances in technology have helped manufacturers create better products, buyers also have higher expectations these days.
In fact, the phrase “the customer is king” has been used for a while now. But when it comes to manufacturing industries, what can they do to improve customer experience. Consider a few ways this can be done.
1. Partner with other businesses
Customer experience or not, partnerships are great for businesses in all industries and the financial rewards can be enormous. However, in the manufacturing industry, the cost of production is often high and you may not always have the manpower (more on that later) or resources to produce a particular device or equipment. You can become more responsive to the needs of your customers with the help of your partner.
Another type of partnership that may benefit you is using a company that produces test fixtures to help you significantly lower your cost of production. I believe leading manufacturer of test fixtures Cortek Test Solutions speaks for other test companies too when it says “customers rely on us to be their strategic partner and to provide innovative, custom solutions that lead them to successful product development and production.”
Sometimes you may need to partner with a competitor to enable you satisfy your customers, but don’t let that deter you. Apart from potential additional customers, partnerships allow a wide selection of skills and contacts. You’ll see why the former is important in the manufacturing industry in the next point. Till then, a partnership may be what you need to elevate customer experience in your company to untold heights.
2. Hire the right employees and treat them right
According to research by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Consulting LLP, by 2025 there will be two million vacant manufacturing jobs. Well, you may think that’s a future occurrence and has no bearing on the present. But that study also shows that 60 percent of vacant manufacturing jobs are due to a shortage of qualified applicants.
Industry data in the ten years from 2004 to 2013 shows an annual loss of at least $17 billion caused by vacant positions. This is an industry-wide problem, and to combat it, employees in manufacturing firms are often working overtime to cover these lapses. It’s sad that this isn’t entirely the fault of these companies.
So if for example a customer requests a new feature in an equipment or device and there’s probably no person skilled enough to make the additions in your company, what do you do?
You can leverage partnership with another business who have skilled workers. But first you must make sure–probably through a survey–that the majority of your customers will want this extra feature before you make the changes lest the new product flops.
Generally, if you have skilled workers who are creating wonderful products that enhance customer experience in your firm, do your best to keep those employees. Otherwise replacing them might not just be a gargantuan task, it might be impossible.
3. Listen to your customers
There are no shortage of ways to do this. The only setback here is that some manufacturing companies are still stuck in the pre-digital area. They have no active websites, social media presence, or any other digital footprints.
But to stay ahead, carry out surveys to discover what your customers need and get suggestions on how you can make your product better for their use. You can provide some incentives to encourage them to submit feedback to enable you serve them better. Discounts, vouchers, exclusive deals, a time guarantee (stuff like “it will take just a minute or less…”), and other incentives can encourage customers to give you feedback that will enable you create better products.
There are several other ways you can incentivize customer feedback if you just think long and hard enough. Plus, it’s even easier to study what other firms in your industry are doing, so you can probably see what’s working for them and inspire yourself.
As an example, several manufacturing firms should have video tutorials of how their product is used, but they don’t. Compare that to what online software companies do by providing articles with screenshots or videos to help customers use their products effectively and you’ll see the manufacturing industry is lagging behind.
Customer feedback comes from the horse’s mouth as it were, so if implemented correctly, your customers will certainly be delighted.