Digital transformation is a hot topic within the manufacturing industry these days, with it on the lips of every consultant, agency, and C-Suite from coast-to-coast. Those conversations usually focus on improving operational efficiency and digitizing the internal business processes that already exist. However, by only focusing on the internal, manufacturing marketers are leaving out a crucial part of the equation—their customer.
What manufacturing brands need to understand is that digital transformation and customer experience are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are complimentary initiatives, as you cannot truly transform the way you do business without taking into account the experience you provide the customer.
But before I get ahead of myself, let’s create a shared definition of digital transformation and customer experience.
Though these initiatives may appear siloed on the surface, there is a significant overlap that marketers must understand. In their 2016 State of the Connected Customer Report, Salesforce reported that 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage (e.g. website, social media, mobile, in person). Similarly, Forrester has predicted that 79% of manufacturing companies expect to compete on the basis of customer experience among industry competitors by 2020, meaning it is vital to start thinking about your customer experience now so you are not one of the 21% left wondering why they are losing customers to competitors.
The easiest place to start this customer-focused digital transformation is within your marketing programs. Besides your sales team, marketing departments typically have the most insight into the experience of your customer and, in many organizations, marketers are responsible for highly visible assets such as your website, advertising, social, marketing collateral, and digital experiences. Mature marketing departments are also set-up and used to operating in a culture of optimization, allowing your digital transformation initiatives to improve quickly as time passes.
The way that customers interact with businesses has changed drastically over the years. Common ways in which customers interacted with or gathered information about products and manufacturers in the past such as phone conversations or in-person meetings have given way to advanced digital interactions such as GPS tracking, chat bots, and voice search. Just because you may have digitized aspects of your business to interact with customers does not mean you’ve transformed your business digitally to fully meet the needs of your customers and maximize their customer experience. In fact, 70% of consumers say technology has made it easier than ever to take their business elsewhere.
If you are not willing to transform the way you do business to meet your customer’s need, there is surely a competitor who will. By marrying digital transformation initiatives with your CX initiatives, manufacturers will be better able to improve efficiencies internally, and grow to meet the needs of their customers.