Today’s connected customer expects an experience that is immediate, intelligent, and personal. Companies that are successful in this digital age are constantly innovating, predicting, and finding ways to better serve these customers.
Read on to learn how manufacturers can deliver connected service and drive customer loyalty.
5 Customer Expectations from a Connected Service Experience
A Memorable Experience
Making great experiences with customers often comes down to going the extra mile to give them favorable memories about their experiences and how well their problems were solved. It can be the smaller details—attentiveness, recognition, and consideration—that add up to a memorable experience and customer loyalty.
Technology has permeated every aspect of our society, and connected customers are accustomed to using it throughout their day. But customers still want to be seen as a human being with personal preferences—and not just a field on an email list.
In fact, a recent survey of more than 7,000 consumers and business buyers found that 2/3 of their respondents will switch brands if they have the perception that they are “treated like a number instead of an individual.”
Instant Confirmation and Rapid Response
That same survey reports that 64% of consumers expect real-time interaction with the companies they do business with. Mobile technology and smartphones have changed the way people communicate, and do business. Because of this modern expectation of immediacy, customers expect to receive instantaneous response and confirmation.
Think like a customer for a moment. What do they really want? They are interested in the overall outcome or ultimate result, not necessarily the product or service alone. The truth is 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.
Demonstrating value gives the customer an understanding of benefits, as opposed to features. When a company can demonstrate the positive results that are being achieved, the customer will realize they’re making a good investment, and appreciate the value they’re receiving.
Connected Service Playbook for Manufacturers
We’ve identified that customers want connected service. Now let’s take a look at the steps manufacturers should take to create a winning connected service strategy: guide, track, grow, and automate.
Step 1: Guide
Winning in the aftermarket and creating a successful parts and service sales strategy is only possible with a shift in paradigm towards servitization. This begins by creating a culture of service from the top down through collaboration, continued focus, planning, and investment.
Service processes should be documented to identify methods that are successful in helping customers do business with the organization, as well as those that aren’t. Look at the service process from the customer’s perspective. Is service the reason customers choose this organization?
Problems should be identified, and solutions created through collaboration and research. Best practices need to be clearly communicated and distributed throughout the enterprise. Both short term and long-term strategies should be considered to build more effective, scalable processes.
Step 2: Track
Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics. Bill Pollock, an expert in service industry standards, advises that KPIs should be linked to “critical factors that drive the performance of the organization.”
Specific goals making service a priority need to be targeted, with concrete strategies to achieve those goals. Organizations must be willing to make any monetary and personnel investments necessary to bring these plans to fruition, and properly track incoming data.
Step 3: Grow
Speaking of investments, a successful strategy to grow aftermarket profitability largely depends on advanced field technology. Through IoT, manufacturers can collect valuable field data to drive service contracts, preventive maintenance, inspections, and parts sales. And they can also help innovate future product developments and create intelligent service offerings that grow the business and serve customers more effectively.
As Harvard Business Review explains, the information manufacturers glean from smart products “enhances a company’s ability to segment customers, customize products, set prices to better capture value, and extend value-added services”. This provides a competitive edge in an industry most effected by the structural changes brought on by IoT technology.
The Aberdeen Group concurs with HBR’s assessment of the strategic benefits technology provides to support aftermarket sales and be competitive. Aberdeen’s survey finds that best-in-class organizations “invest in technology which empowers and enables better visibility into the current state of the field organization and the future of service demand”.
Step 4: Automate
Field service management software helps improve service performance for both manufacturers and distributors. And it eliminates antiquated paper-based methods of field service operations.
Mobile and cloud-based solutions streamline field service management, offering automated processes for service contracts, spare parts, service dispatching, asset tracking, work order creation, safety inspections, field asset management, and more.
Boosting profitability through predictive after-sales service offerings is overwhelmingly seen as having the potential to revolutionize manufacturing.
However, to sustain success, the ultimate goal must be to provide connected services that keep equipment running with no disruption in operation for the customer.