Almost three-quarters (73%) of manufacturers are re-directing their key focus to enhancing the customer experience to accommodate changes in consumer behaviour, according to new research from Acquia and ORM.
The study, titled Why the Customer Experience Should be Top Priority for Manufacturers in 2019, found that digital technology, specifically, CRM and website development, was at the heart of their new customer-centric approach to help them achieve their strategic objectives. It also found that 65% of those surveyed believed their organisations should be using digital platforms more than they currently do.
The study surveyed 200 marketing and IT decision makers at manufacturing companies across the UK, to gain their views on how manufacturers feel about digital, and its place in building client relationships and transactions.
Commenting on the findings, Steve Williamson, general manager and senior vice president of EMEA at Acquia, the open digital experience company, said: “Today’s consumers want brands to provide a seamless and personalised omni-channel experience, and will go elsewhere if they don’t get it. However, what you might be surprised to hear is that this new research suggests manufacturing customers are behaving in the same way – and that’s bad news for any manufacturers who don’t respond quickly and appropriately.”
Bringing a range of expertise to the study, respondents revealed that the new focus on the customer is opening up new routes to market. By adopting a personal approach to the customer experience, manufacturers can generate personal responses and relationships, allowing them to sell direct to customers rather than through third parties. This can drive sales and cut costs. By embracing and utilising big data appropriately, they can optimise products and behaviours, giving further commercial advantage.
Other key findings from the study include:
- 73% of respondents said that in order to survive, they must switch from a product-centric to a customer-centric business model
- 76% said they must adopt an omni-channel approach to be competitive
- 74% believe digital marketing gave them direct access to end-customers
- Companies already using customer data as part of their sales strategy had the highest average perception of customer loyalty, scoring 7.9/10
The findings of the study leaves manufacturers with the challenge of shifting their strategic position. In order to do this, they must provide an omni-channel experience, linking all purchasing avenues, just as consumer brands strive to do, so they can witness the same benefits.
Lizzie Lawson, senior strategist at ORM added: “Strategic change is always a challenge, especially in sectors where patterns of behaviour are well established. But our new research shows that for manufacturing firms or all types and ages, it’s now a case of “adapt or die”. Manufacturers’ boards and senior management must lead the way, and strategise a digital approach to customer relations that meets customers’ needs and wishes at every touchpoint. It’s the only way to stay competitive in a digital world.”