Q Report

Q Reports will be a source of information gathered and aggregated from interviews with vendors, end users and public or open data. They will provide an analysis that will strive to be as informative and transparent as possible. 

Q Report - Customer Experience in Manufacturing

Research on customer experience focuses too much on customer facing activities and not enough on the back office and operations. For manufacturers, the quality of their products and the ability to ship them in the right quantity and on time can make or break the customer experience.

Our new research initiative aims at focusing on the unseen part of the customer experience in manufacturing .

The analysis will be performed based on scenarios, stories, and demos that cover parts or the entirety of a customer journey. Through real life examples or simulations of direct and indirect interactions between a customer and a manufacturer, we aim to show how ERP software and complementary solutions can be used to deliver a positive customer experience while increasing employee productivity and revenues.

Sample Report Q Research - Customer Experience in Manufacturing.pdf

Why it matters?

Manufacturing companies are facing unprecedented challenges which impact their industry.

Here are a few:

- slow growth in developed countries

- decline in labour productivity

- skill shortage for highly trained workers

- market demand for product as a service or on demand consumption

- increased cost of raw materials

- strong competition from developing countries

These factors hinder the overall customer experience. We believe that a mix of technology, and business science and strategy can help manufacturers become more agile, and therefore more likely to address customer demands. This report describes some of the functional areas that can have an impact on customer experience and provides recommendations on how to address these challenges.

Field Service

For manufacturers, field service activities tend to be a cost center rather than a profit generating activity.

According to a report by the Technology Services Industry Association 73% of field service organizations are struggling with profitable revenue growth.

In this scenario, the field service team was involved in the customer journey 3 times, which increases the cost of the service provided in order to make the customer happy.

Since the manufacturer cannot charge the customer for the service, the total cost of the sale also increases and the profit will decrease.

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One way to address this challenge is to include IoT capabilities in field service solutions. This can reduce errors, improve technician productivity, and reduce costs for travel or overtime. This way, the frequency of field service activities can be reduced, costs minimized, which allows manufacturers to maintain their profit margins and leads to a positive customer experience.

Inventory

The value of all inventories in the US manufacturing sector in March 2017 has been evaluated at 648,273 million dollars (according to the US Census Bureau).

This is not surprising considering that many manufacturers struggle to find the balance between demand and the optimal levels of inventory needed to satisfy it. Manufacturers usually either have more or less raw materials or finished products than needed than what is optimally required. This means that they either incur inventory and storage costs that are unjustified, or that missing inventory causes delays in the sales process.

In both cases, the customer experience can be negatively impacted, either by higher costs or by longer delivery times.

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One possible solution to this challenge is lean manufacturing, a practice focused on creating maximum value with minimum waste.

While lean manufacturing has been around for decades and implemented successfully in many companies, it is still not mainstream in manufacturing.

The main reason for this is that lean is not just a set of measures that needs to be implemented and followed.

Lean manufacturing is a mindset that requires everyone involved to understand the importance of lean and the role they play in making it happen.

For many companies, a culture change is required to successfully adopt lean manufacturing.

As described in the webinar on the left, many of us tend to be addicted to the status quo and that's something we need to address.

Sales

Recent research by the National Association of Manufacturers shows that only 16% of respondents believe that their sales will increase by more than 10% during the next year.

Also, the manufacturing output of industrialized economies increased marginally by 0.6 per cent in the third quarter of 2016, which means that manufacturers cannot rely on continuous growth.

Manufacturers need to compete in existing markets, which are not likely to expand, therefore other factors like quality of products, innovation, and the service will drive sales.

ERP software and other solutions like PLM can help manufacturers stay competitive and take the most advantage of the limited growth in their markets.

ERP vendors may not always deliver the best sales and CRM functionality but they offer the advantage that CRM functionality is tightly integrated with ERP features. As a result, users can gain visibility into a complete customer profile and journey with the manufacturer.

This allows manufacturers to better forecast, plan, and adjust for market changes.

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What's next?

All these challenges are of utmost importance for manufacturing companies and need to be addressed to ensure business success.

In order to demonstrate how manufacturers can solve these problems, we intend to engage with both vendors and their customers to get different perspectives on their interactions.

We will also collaborate with experts on areas such as CRM or analytics to provide a complete picture of the customer journey in manufacturing.

Finally, we will include statistics and research from various external sources to provide different views on the importance of each stage in the customer journey for manufacturers and on what they can do to attract and retain customers.

This research can help vendors:

- engage with customers through storytelling backed by research

- show how you can help customers with specific business needs

- show customers that you understand them and care about their challenges

Research Options

For more details please contact us at: gabriel@questionsconsulting.com