Top manufacturers know something you may not know—they know who the most important person is in their organization. No, it’s not the CEO, the CIO, or even the person who brews the best pot of coffee (important though that person may be to corporate morale and productivity). It’s your customers. With SYSPRO ERP, manufacturers can put customers front and center and prioritize work around the needs of their customers.
KPMG surveyed manufacturers and found that manufacturers who closely follow their customers wants, needs, and desires tend to build an innovative organization.
About 49% percent of manufacturing CEOs who responded to the study agree that their company will change dramatically over the next three years. Pressures from imported goods, the decline in manufacturing orders, and changing economics are all putting pressure on manufacturers to innovate. Those who remain close to their customers can pinpoint trends and needs far ahead of the competition and remain a valued partner to their clients.
A Global Shift from Product-Centered to Customer-Centered
Manufacturing has often been a product-led environment. In a product-centered or product-led environment, goods are produced, and then customers found for those goods. A company producing steel beams manufactures beams that are then sold to the construction industry; they view their job as a beam-maker, not as a company serving the construction industry.
A customer-centric model, on the other hand, asks, “What do our construction customers want, and how much will they pay for it?” Then beams are made based on what customers are requesting. Customer-centric models focus more on understanding customers, predicting future trends, and building long-standing relationships with customers.
Businesses who focus on a customer-centric model must invest in R&D, databases such as SYSPRO ERP systems, and business intelligence to access important data. There is less emphasis on "pushing" products through sales and marketing and greater emphasis on meeting customers needs. Building products that customers desire immediately make sales and marketing much easier. The focus shifts to understanding and filling customer needs.
Hopping Over the Dealer Networks
Dealer networks have always been the lifeblood of the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers rely upon dealers to share new products with customers and deal with complaints. However, new communications channels have made it possible for manufacturers to bypass or leapfrog right over dealer networks to communicate directly with customers.
Although you may choose to maintain a dealer network or a dealer network may be an integral part of your business and industry model, the ability to meet with and learn from customers directly can now be shared among both dealers and manufacturers. It’s less of a dealer monopoly and more of a democracy among all who seek to serve customers.
Long-Term Success Built on Three Cornerstones
Customer-centric models are built upon three important considerations:
- Be everything to someone: Instead of trying to be something for everyone, try to be everything to someone. In other words, build relationships with customers rather than churn through customers with one-off sales. The more closely you can follow what your customers need, the better your chances of becoming indispensable to their businesses. Manufacturers who can become indispensable create a steady order stream and profit from word-of-mouth marketing. It’s a winning long-term strategy for success.
- Relationships are changing: In this new paradigm, manufacturers must get used to working directly with customers. If you’ve always relied upon your dealer network to handle customer service, it’s time to rethink that concept. Additionally, direct access to the creators, inventors, and product engineers will be something customers will demand. The more input you have from your customers and the more interactions you have with your customers, the more you can learn, benefit, and grow.
- Service as a competitive advantage: Instead of viewing customer service as a necessary nuisance, consider viewing it as a competitive edge. The better the service, the more customers will return to your company. Manufacturers today may not be equipped to interact with customers directly as they shift from product-centered manufacturing to customer-centric manufacturing. Paying attention to service will set you up for long-term success in this new business environment.
Throughout the years, manufacturers have adjusted to many changes. Changing how you conduct business is never easy. Centering your business around your customers is one change that, if made sooner rather than later, will keep your business ahead of the competition.
SYSPRO ERP offers manufacturers an excellent software tool that is scalable and cost-efficient. Manufacturing, distribution, and sales management are only a part of what SYSPRO ERP can do for your business. With the right data, you can manage and monitor your customers needs to stay ahead of the curve. Learn more about SYSPRO ERP from PositiveVision.
PositiveVision is a full-service software consulting firm dedicated to bringing trust, care, and confidence back to the software consulting industry. We help small and mid-sized businesses find and use software to become more profitable. For more information, contact PositiveVision today.