Is there anything worse than when a customer requests an update on job progress, and you have to search for an update? With the rise of the internet, online shopping, and instant responses, customers demand a higher level of customer service. Now, they want to be in the know at all stages of the buying process. However, much of manufacturing still rely on manual methods to update customers on job progress. So, in an increasingly price competitive market, customer service can be a crucial differentiator to both retain customers and attract new ones. Fortunately, technology can help. So, in this article, we explore how technology can enable you to level-up customer service?
Regardless of industry, delivering excellent customer service is an important component of your business operations. This is because acquiring new customers is expensive. However, repeat customers are up to 300% more likely to spend more with your brand. Indeed, a mere 5% increase in customer retention can equate to a profit of 25%. Additionally, a recent survey found that 72% of customers will share a positive experience with six or more people, either via word-of-mouth or leaving an online review.
The pillars of customer service
So, the benefits of excellent customer service are clear. It both helps you retain customers at lower costs and even generate new customers. There are many more benefits beyond this too. Fortunately, when it comes to delivering excellent service, there are a few standard pillars you can rely on:
- Keep your promises: When you take on work, you must deliver it to the proper specifications at the agreed date. Tools like Scheduling and SFDC allow you to monitor live WIP and provide accurate job costings, These can ensure you provide accurate estimates to customers when placing an order, so you are likely to deliver on time in full.
- Build and maintain customer relationships: From your first interaction, it’s essential to build positive relationships with customers beyond a business-to-business engagement. Developing a more friendly, trusting relationship with customers generates some “good will” as you get to know each other. You can do this by looking for ways to go above and beyond the agreed work. Maybe you can introduce them to some of your customers or recommend them to a friend. But bear in mind, these will only get you so far. After the initial stages, you need to back it up by delivering high-quality work on time.
- Maintain regular and open communication: Regularly communicating with customers and keeping them abreast of any changes remains critical. Firstly, this gives them more time to react to any changes. It also demonstrates you are trustworthy, reliable and in control. For manufacturing companies, that can mean updating your customer when their job moves to a new location, you begin a new operation, or the job is out for delivery. Additionally, you should always initiatie contact if any changes occur, good or bad. This is far preferable than the customer finding out for themselves when it’s too late.
What is levelling-up customer service?
If you are already doing all the above, then your customer service is already excellent. But how much effort goes into maintaining this? For example, how do you update your team with work-order status? Do you have to write emails to customers manually, or are they automated? And how do you ensure your customers know you provide such excellent service, or do they take it for granted?
Levelling-up customer service is the fourth stage of Fitfactory’s Streamline, Connect, Analyse, Level-up and Extend (SCALE) model. It is essentially about leveraging your digital operations as a competitive advantage and providing a value-added service to your customers.
You are automatically capturing information throughout the production process in the streamline and connect stages. So, utilising this and securely and dynamically sharing it with customers ensures they access the latest, accurate information relevant to them. Some of the key aspects include:
- providing real-time work-order status of each customers’ job,
- automating email notifications when changes occur,
- ensuring you deliver communications consistently (with no chance to forget),
- collaborate on paperwork directly with customers to complete NCRs, delivery queries, and supplier audits,
- sharing real-time dashboards with previous quality, cost and delivery performance on jobs for each specific customer to promote how well you’re doing for them.
The aim is to provide your customers with full transparency that builds trust and the reassurance that you are in complete control of their job. You can utilise this as a value-added service that may even allow you to charge a higher price for your work in some industries.
How to level-up customer service with Fitfactory?
Any digitalisation project requires a combination of people, processes, and technology to be successful. However, if you already put customers at the heart of your operations and provide excellent service, then you’re on the right path.
The technology is here to streamline and automate many of the manual processes you do already. And at Fitfactory, we aim to help you do just that. Firstly, to share real-time information with your customers, you need to have that real-time data flowing through your factory. Therefore, levelling-up is the fourth step of our SCALE model after Streamline, Connect and Analyse.
Streamlining your operations implements ERP, CRM and Scheduling systems to create the digital thread of your production. This stage improves efficiencies and captures data at every stage of production. Next, by Connecting your factory, you plug any gaps in your business, replace fragmented spreadsheets, and enable communication between disparate systems. Once you have connected your factory, you can genuinely Analyse business performance to generate actionable insights. The live flow of information means can get the right data to the right people at the right time to make informed decisions. And these are critical steps that enable you to level-up customer service.
However, as with any digital transformation project, it is a continuous improvement project, so our advice is to start small but start fast. This approach will generate some quick wins that spur future investments. Read our previous blogs to learn to create your digital transformation to SCALE your business.
Sharing real-time information with customers
Assuming you have those critical building blocks in place, you can utilise our Insights and Customer Portal platforms to begin sharing real-time information with your customers.
Insights is our business intelligence tool that generates actionable insights that help your business grow. Firstly, it consolidates information from different sources throughout your factory into one platform. Additionally, it’s easy to turn insights into actions by setting up rules that trigger alerts, sending emails, and creating tasks when exceptions occur. However, you can also set up real-time KPIs, reports and dashboards filtered by your customers so you can provide real-time updates. Your customers receive a dynamic link, and they can track live performance updates from a convenient location.
The Customer Portal takes this one step further, providing a portal for you and your supplier to collaborate and communicate through. Linking with your ERP system, it automatically updates the customer as the job progresses through your factory. So, they receive a notification when materials are at goods in, when the job moves to production and when it is out-for-delivery. So, you will no longer expect those calls asking for updates that leave you running after a piece of paper on the shop floor.
Learn how to SCALE your business
You can learn more about SCALE by subscribing to our blog. We provide weekly updates to support your digital transformation journey, including interviews with our in-house experts, highlights of funding opportunities, and blogs like this one. Next week we will look at the final part of our journey to Extend your ecosystem.