While most manufacturers have entered the era of automation, statistics are showing that true industry differentiation lies not only in technological innovation but also in an overall positive customer experience. Manufacturers have recognized this and according to a report by ORM and Acquia, the manufacturing sector identified customer experience as a “top priority” in 2019.
Within Africa, we are seeing a similar trend, where CX will overtake price and product quality as priorities for customers, and those companies that provide excellent CX will have good customer retention rates while improving bottom-line results.
Despite this recognition, the customer experience journey is often seen as intangible because each customer interaction is unique. In recent years, we have also seen the rise of the ‘Expectation Economy’ – which according to Trend Watching.com, refers to a digitally-empowered, yet feel ‘forever time-starved’ customer. Manufacturers must, therefore, devise the right customer experience journey strategy that reaches all end-to-end customer touchpoints. Whether the customer chooses to interact using social media, a phone call, or even email.
Driving customer experience from the core of the business
Getting your customer experience journey right needs to start with your most valuable stakeholder – your staff. Employees need to adapt to this new journey, which requires a level of agility and flexibility.
Staff also need to be armed with the right tools to deliver great CX. This includes the identification of the best channel to answer customer queries in the way they wish to receive them. Here is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a major role. AI can help to track the various customer queries that come in. Chatbots can be available 24/7 and play a vital role in meeting the needs of the expectation economy. At the same time, it does not replace human interaction but rather augments it.
A vital element to remember in this process is that all messages should be consistent across all channels – whether it is a face-to-face conversation with a sales executive or a chat on a bot.
A performance-driven approach to customer satisfaction
With a motivated team of people and supporting tools in place to deliver an exceptional customer experience journey, the next vital step is to track CX performance. Because your customers are dynamic and ever-changing, your customer touch-points should be reassessed on an ongoing basis.
In order to achieve this, manufacturers require a 360 view of their customer base and how they purchase products or services. With so many sources of data available, organizations can plan for both short-term as well as long-term demand.
Ultimately, improved customer experience can be the key to boost Africa’s manufacturing sector; however, it requires the right people, the best technological tools, ongoing measurement, and an agile mindset to work. Importantly, on this journey, organizations mustn’t forget all the stakeholders – the entire business needs to align to create that experience for the customer across all divisions, regardless of who they interact with.