The manufacturing sector has had its CX challenges as the world came out of the pandemic with supply chain issues exacerbating the problem further. Though CX has become very important to this sector especially as branded manufacturers forward-integrate into direct business-to-consumer models, it has been stagnant at best. As an example, would you believe that CX in the automobile manufacturing sector in 2023 is lower than it was in 2019 (Source: Forrester CX Index)? Moreover, as self-service gets smarter, contact center agents are left to deal with more complex queries. In a survey of such agents by BenchmarkPortal, a leading contact center benchmarking firm, 67% of agents said that customer queries are becoming more complex. Moreover, over 80% of them are still fully or partially remote. Yet, 68% of them do not have any knowledge-based tool to guide them through customer conversations with a whopping 40% having to read through voluminous documents to find answers when irate customers are on the line. Here is what manufacturers need to do to get out of this experience rut, based on what we are seeing with our clientele.
1. Digitalize the service
Accelerated by millennial and Gen Z lifestyles and preferences and the pandemic lockdowns, consumers have doubled down on digital with 80% saying that they had increased the use of digital channels during the pandemic and 90% of digital novices saying they will remain digital, according to research surveys conducted by the likes of McKinsey and others. Moreover, today’s digital citizens want to go beyond simply checking their order status or reading FAQs to accomplishing more complex tasks such as digital form-filling and online troubleshooting. Where they are not able to self-serve, they are looking for answers through human-assisted digital channels such as live chat and messaging apps, where they often “live.” This would require manufacturers to go beyond the basics to provide service through touchpoints like AI-powered chatbots, messaging, live chat, cobrowsing, in-app service, pause-and-resume conversational service for long-lived resolution, and proactive notifications. Moreover, with knowledge and AI-guided conversations in the contact center, they can reduce the need for unwarranted “truck rolls” or field service visits, which put a big dent in operating performance.
2. “Hub” the conversations
While self-service is getting increasingly smarter and more effective, there are still queries from digital-first citizens that require human assistance over digital channels like messaging and chat and if all else fails, over the phone or in person. If customer conversations are not all “hubbed” or unified into a single desktop, customer service agents will not have complete context. In fact, 43% of contact center agents in the manufacturing sector said they don’t have a complete view of customer interactions in the BenchmarkPortal survey, mentioned earlier. They then wind up asking the consumer to repeat information, a big no-no for good CX.
3. “Hub” the knowledge
The biggest deterrent to good CX across industries is getting inconsistent answers through different interaction channels and lack of knowledge among customer service reps, according to a Forrester survey of 5,000+ consumers, sponsored by eGain. The cause? Inconsistent knowledge silos across the enterprise. The solution? An omnichannel knowledge hub with content management, conversational AI, generative AI, and analytics, all unified and orchestrated in one place. This approach will ensure that the knowledge—content, knowhow, and insights—is correct, consumable, compliant, and consistent.
4. Select the right solution partner
Technology matters as the world goes digital and AI. So do best practices and domain expertise. Make sure you pick a partner whose technology is proven and who has had success at scale in the manufacturing sector. Does the vendor provide end-to-end services, including training/education, implementation, and managed services? Do they have a formalized customer success program? Do they offer risk-free production pilots—not just a toy sandbox—to try out their solution with expert guidance, all free of charge in the pilot phase? Vendors’ willingness to put real skin in the game shows their commitment to your success and confidence in their own solution.
Here is a sampling of success our manufacturing clients have had:
- Dental equipment manufacturing leader supports its dealer network with complex problem resolution with AI and knowledge guidance provided to their contact center agents. This knowledge-based approach has doubled the use of self-service among dealers and tripled the number of dealer registrations.
- Tire manufacturing leader supports millions of end-customers, retail outlets, and OEM clients with consistent and unified knowledge and AI-backed self-service and agent-assisted service across chatbots, secure messaging, live chat, and email.
- Major handset manufacturer and telco firm improved customer service quality by 23%, First-Contact Resolution by 19%, while reducing unwarranted handset exchanges by 38% through better problem resolution in their contact center with AI and knowledge guidance for agents.
Prioritizing digitalization, unifying conversations and knowledge with omnichannel hubs, and working with a proven solution provider will enable manufacturers to take their CX (and EX (employee experience) from stagnant to standout!