5 steps manufacturers can take towards CX success

Understanding who your customers are and how to align your customer experience delivery with their expectations is key to building brand loyalty for manufacturers and is the only certain route to protecting revenues in times of economic uncertainty.

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Published ·June 10, 2024

Reading time·4 min

When markets tighten, when economic uncertainty lingers and when consumers are consciously controlling discretionary spending, customer retention becomes the only proven route to maintaining revenues.

And of course, whatever the business model and regardless of the end user, for manufacturing brands, the key to holding onto existing customers and aiming to increase their lifetime value is to prioritize CX delivery.

In times of abundance, CX is what attracts new business and in times of scarcity, it’s what helps bring stability to your brand. Whatever the business environment, the ability to deliver a positive CX remains your ultimate point of differentiation.

However, unless you’re constantly monitoring and refining your CX — looking for opportunities to optimize performance or for insights that will allow you to better understand who your customers are and what drives them — how can you be certain that your business has what it takes to retain customers in the year ahead?

Step 1: Know who your customers are

The first step to understanding what inspires loyalty in some customers and what could be potentially driving other customers away is revising your existing customer data and interrogating it to start building customer personas. This requires more than a CRM deep dive. To build the clearest, most realistic customer archetypes means drawing from as many internal and external sources as possible. Customer data can mean sales histories, but it also means the transcripts of conversations with contact center agents, feedback and comments left on review aggregation sites, survey findings and combining it all with external sources such as findings from social media listening.

Once these insights are pooled, creating customer personas becomes easy, as does identifying particular types of customer needs and motivations relating to the brand. The final step of the customer definition process is conducting a Voice of the Customer (VOC) program, the results of which should validate initial conclusions.

Step 2: Map the customer journey

Modern VOC programs are a powerful means of mining data at scale and provide genuine insights not simply about who customers are, but how your CX delivery aligns with their expectations. This is key because the last several years have been some of the most disruptive in recent history, to the point where expectations, preferences and behaviors have been drastically altered, even if customer identity has remained constant. And when motivations change, the customer journey your brand provides needs to change too. So, with the newly defined personas and a VOC program for further support, map all existing customer journeys to see where there is alignment and where there are inconsistencies. Do some touchpoints create friction? Do some channels perform better than others? And do different customer types with different needs manage to meet their objectives when engaging with your brand?

Step 3: Reduce customer effort

Mapping the customer journey reveals where touchpoints are performing as they should and where your services and approaches are creating friction or increasing the amount of effort a customer has to exert in order to achieve an objective. Reducing customer effort is key to increasing loyalty and increasingly, especially for brands that sell and provide after-sales support for manufactured goods, providing an optimized self-service experience is one of the fastest ways to reduce effort and, with the right approach, reduce the cost to serve without reducing the quality of service.

For instance, FAQs, tutorials and how-to videos can turn website visits into a real interactive, time-saving and value-added experience. And, in the case of brands that are selling directly to customers and have no physical footprint, self-service provides an extra layer of reassurance for first-time customers who would otherwise be hesitant to make an initial purchase. Just beware, a positive self-service experience can’t be created or delivered overnight. It’s a step-by-step process that requires constant improvement and refinement. But the more effort your brand puts in, the less effort your customers need.

Step 4: Increase agent training

With a well-conceived and well-maintained self-service option, live contact volumes will start to decrease. However, the contacts that persist are going to be of a much more complex nature — issues or problems that cannot be resolved through any other means than talking to a friendly and knowledgeable agent. These types of interactions are often “moments of truth.” In other words, how these conversations conclude could mean the difference between increased loyalty and advocacy or an increased potential for attrition.

Therefore, ensure agent training is a priority and that the tools they rely on, such as databases, are up to date, accurate and reflect the types of contacts and conversations your CX teams need to handle.

Step 5: Measure performance

The final step is to continuously measure performance against customer expectations. The application of metrics such as NPS and CSAT will highlight how specific touchpoints and channels perform. However, to maintain the big-picture view and gather valuable insights that can be used to continually improve not just CX but the goods and services your customer services teams support, consider adopting solutions such as CX analytics. With CX analytics, it’s possible to mine, in real time, the data generated with each direct customer interaction, whether that interaction is a voice conversation, email, chat session or the path taken by a customer navigating a website. When every conversation can be immediately captured and analyzed, your brand can monitor customer sentiment in the moment, and pinpoint the emotional cues or vocabulary that signal loyalty and the signals that indicate the possibility of attrition. Likewise, this level of analytic capability can help your brand develop new products and improve existing offers based on customers’ unsolicited feedback.

Understanding who your customers are and knowing what steps to take to maintain their loyalty is the first step to taking the guesswork out of CX delivery. To learn more about how manufacturers can optimize the customer relationship, read “If you build it, they will come: The best practice guide to CX in Manufacturing.”