3 ways manufacturing sales can skyrocket through customer service
By providing an outstanding CX, manufacturing sales will increase. Here are 3 areas Axon Garside have found that you need to improve.
Published: 05 Apr 2023
8 minutes read
The past 20 years has seen the manufacturing sector rapidly progress through Industry 4.0 and successive technology, such as AI and the Internet of Things (IoT). Yet, something else has been transforming: your customer expectations.
The Manufacturer has found that, when engaging with your manufacturing business, your customers expect a ‘B2C-like’ experience. They now expect to go online, research a product, and securely buy and track their goods. Your customer now expects to self serve, something which manufacturing businesses are largely not able to provide.
To achieve this, you need to improve your online customer experience (CX). Improving the CX will not only benefit your customers by giving them the information they want in a way that’s convenient for them, it can also help manufacturers’ increase sales and generate significantly more profit.
But, how do you do it? Here are three core customer service considerations that will help your sales skyrocket:
1. Pre-and post manufacturing sale self-service support
To delight your customers, businesses need to provide excellent customer support before and after the sale. Improving CX and providing customers with the self service functionality they expect can have a significant impact on a manufacturer's sales in the following ways:
Online, your website is your salesman. One common challenge we’re seeing across manufacturing websites is that businesses often see their site as a digital brochure. While they share some commonalities, your website is not and should not be a replication of your brochure.
To educate and support your customers throughout their purchase, you need to provide them with the right educational content and resources at the right time. Depending on the type of visitors that land on your site, this could be:
- Educational videos, showing potential buyers how to use your products.
- Research reports, helping them understand why they need your solution.
- Targeted blogs and downloads, moving them to the point of purchase.
- Instant question and answer areas, including an FAQ section, or live chat function, helping them manage their query instantly.
This level of guidance and support will delight your customer. With such a helpful and informative buying experience, they’ll be more likely to purchase from you again.
The point of purchase isn’t the end of the customer journey. To delight and support your customer post-sale, it’s important to have core information and tools at their disposal to provide support, including:
- Digital spec sheets to either store online or print out.
- Chat bots, allowing them to easily contact a member of your team if their query is complex.
- Real time order status updates, giving them all the information they need on where their order is, and how long it will take to reach them via their preferred channel (email, SMS, WhatsApp etc).
- Easy-to-use calendar tools, allowing them to book a field service engineer at a convenient time.
This allows your website to continue to support your customers even when your staff have clocked off for the day.
Developing an omni-channel experience
Self-service is the key to providing excellent customer service pre-and post-sale. But, every buyer persona that lands on your website has different expectations of when and how they should be able to contact you.
This isn’t to match a B2C experience, but your competitors, as Hiver found that over 60% of businesses are offering more than three channels of communication. These channels of contact need to match your buyer intentions and expectations, but can include:
- Live chat, or a chat bot.
- Dedicated customer service help line.
- Customer query email address.
- Social media support.
The key to creating a cohesive omnichannel customer service experience is through a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). By tracking user interactions across multiple platforms and channels, this allows your customer service team to easily address a customer's concern while having complete oversight into their previous interactions.
By minimising customer frustration and quickly dealing with their issue, the happier your customer will be. This will have a direct impact on a manufacturer's sales and make them more likely to buy from you in the future.
Want to learn more about CRMs and how they can help you transform your sales pipeline? Download ‘Front Office Digital Transformation: A guide for Manufacturers’.
2. Buying products online
To match your customer's B2C expectations and actually generate sales, customers need to easily buy your products online.
While you may have a simple eCommerce platform already live to sell your manufacturing products, there are three things you to do to match and exceed customer's expectations:
i. Make your pricing transparent
Your customers won’t buy something if the price isn’t right. Prospective customers don’t want to waste their time researching why they should buy your offering only to find that it’s completely out of their budget. Therefore, it’s vital that you are prepared to publish your prices.
Being honest about how much your products cost achieves two things:
- Demonstrates that you're an honest business, offering great products at a reasonable price.
- Gives you the advantage over your competitors, by proudly displaying how much a product costs without having to get in touch with a member of your team, or forfeit any of your personal information.
ii. Make it easy to buy complex offerings online
Some offerings are complex and cannot be packaged as off the shelf items, and your clients wouldn’t expect them to be. This does not mean, however, that they cannot be sold online.
The simple logic is the easier you are to buy from, the easier it is for manufacturers to sell. Therefore, to streamline the user experience, it’s vital that you create tools to allow customers to buy their own complex solutions.
For example, if you manufacture complex spill prevention products, a potential customer can use an online tool to specify their needs, any alterations they require, and receive a quote. If they’re ready to buy, they’d be able to instantly purchase their bespoke product within the tool, and it would be instantly manufactured on your production line.
This increases a manufacturer’s sales by streamlining a consumer's buying process. By allowing the client to self serve, you’ll minimise their frustration and maximise the benefit and understanding they can achieve.
iii. Loyalty schemes
Rewarding loyalty is a great way to keep customers returning. Think of air miles, or a loyalty card at a coffee shop - providing customers with an incentive to purchase from you is a great way to get them to return.
Loyalty schemes create a faux relationship between you and your customer, where they feel valued and rewarded for buying from you and, therefore, choose you over a competitor time and time again.
While it’s not financially viable for clients to ‘buy nine products and get their tenth free’, it is a good incentive to provide them with personal discounts, such as:
- A subscription sign-up offer, giving customers a one-off discount when signing up to your mailing list.
- Exclusive offers on related products, or, using information gathered in a CRM, products they were considering buying but haven’t purchased yet.
Ultimately, by making your customers feel valued, this gives them an incentive to buy from your manufacturer, and sales will increase as a result.
To manage a loyalty scheme, you need a well implemented CRM. Discover how they can transform your CX and sales pipeline in our free eBook.
3. Real customer reviews
When customers have a great experience, they’ll want to shout about it. So, once you’ve provided your customers with the CX they expect, give them a forum to provide you with honest feedback. This helps directly increase a manufacturer's sales in two ways:
i. Word of mouth
If your audience can see positive feedback from real customers, they’re more likely to buy from you. You’re more likely to trust a third party who is positive about a business, rather than the company themselves.
To show potential customers how great your product and services are, add real customer feedback into your product and service pages.
ii. Improving products and services
Reviews are, by name, critical examinations of your offerings. If customers have a negative experience of your product or service, giving them a platform to provide you with feedback can help you improve.
To get reviews from your customers, we recommend actively seeking feedback yourself through:
- Email conversations.
- Easy click-to-rate widgets.
- External review websites, such as Trustpilot.
Once gathered, it’s crucial to display these reviews on your website. This gives customers the opportunity to see real third-party opinions.
Transforming manufacturing sales and CX with technology
Ultimately, in order to increase manufacturing sales, your business needs to transform its CX.
Your customers want a personable experience that makes them feel a priority. To meet their expectations, you need to store all information in software that’s accessible to all members of your team, wherever they’re operating from.
Unifying your resources doesn’t just benefit the customer, but your manufacturing business, too, by:
- Accommodating changing customer behaviour.
- Facilitating rising prices.
- Streamlining your company’s practice with improved communication and better use of resources.
To achieve this, you need to transform your front office and move up the digitalisation curve.