Top 5 Tips to Derive Competitive Advantages in Manufacturing Industry with Customer Relationship Management

It has been a little while since I last had the chance to write here on The Edge but here are some thoughts that I recently shared in an article published by Automation Magazine – I hope you enjoy!!

Companies in different industries perceive CRM in a variety of different ways.  The consumer banking industry, for example, has widely different CRM perspectives in comparison to those in the manufacturing sector.  Done right, however, CRM can help manufacturers to increase effectiveness in managing customer relationships and derive significant competitive advantages.

1. Empower Customers
Leveraging the power of CRM, the manufacturing Industry is leading a strong trend in empowering its customers.  For example, customers engaging with consumer electronics manufacturers can configure their end products prior to ordering through the manufacturers’ websites.  Manufacturers, on the other hand, are able to capture vital customer intelligence data through this process, enabling them to offer better choices as well as upsell/ cross sell to their customers.

2. Become a Customer’s trusted partner through proactive actions
CRM is helping the manufacturing industry to understand customer requirements better.  In many situations, it is important for manufacturers to know not only the requirements of their customers but also the customers’ customers. A good example of this is semiconductor chip manufacturers who supply chips to mobile phone manufacturers, who in turn sell the mobile phones to the customers via distribution channels. The first signs of any potential problems in the quality of the mobile phone chips come from end customers and in order to provide a rapid response, a number of chip manufacturers are deriving significant competitive advantages through a tighter integration of their CRM systems with those of the mobile phone manufacturers and their distributers. 

3. Centralise customer information
It is not uncommon for manufacturers today to have customer information stored within 10, 20 and even 30 applications. CRM solutions are designed for the unification of customer information, but by themselves they do not solve the problem. Manufacturers are therefore increasingly realising that CRM needs to integrate well with other business systems – especially ERP –  to ensure there is an overall business strategy approach to managing customers based on the products and services sold.  

4. Multi-mode Customer Service
Traditionally, customer service related requirements for customers of the manufacturing industry are more complex than those in other industries mainly due to the fact that there are simply too many variables. Apart from the challenges related to data availability and the availability of the right technical resources, customers today also approach manufacturers through variety of means – phones, Instant Messaging (IM), email, for example.  In today’s internet culture, customers also expect an instant answer.  For global manufacturers, time zone and languages issues create further complexity. Newer CRM versions are emerging that leverage behavioural as well as business intelligence based on transactional data.  A typical example of this is the routing of a customer issue directly to a higher level technical resource in the event that the customer has called about the same technical issue many times in the recent past or the recorded contents of the recent interactions show high level of dissatisfaction.

5. Equip sales and marketing teams to find more high-value customers
The key to business success today is the same as it was five years ago – do more of what you are good at, less of what you are not good at. With CRM/ ERP as a strong backbone, manufacturers can amplify the impact of sales and marketing operations by simply showing customers what “good” looks like.   

Enabling sales teams to spend time with the right type of customer and equipping marketing with a target prospect profile all help to streamline the focus and simplify the targeting exercise within each line of business. Learn more about Microsoft Dynamics AX.  

Best Regards

Rakesh Kumar, Global Product Industry Director, Manufacturing