By 2020, customer experience will be more important than price. Businesses will remain cost aware but stuttering customer service won’t be tolerated.
Why? We live in the age of the customer. Digital innovation has not only made it possible for businesses to deliver more, it has meant that customers know more and expect more. It will no longer be enough to meet customer expectations but to predict them. What does that mean for your manufacturing business?
- Adapt or Fail
To stay relevant in the future, you have to start now. Many companies are already laying the foundations. Others are stuck in the past and assume that high quality and good prices will be enough to survive. That isn’t the case. Imagine one of your customers decided to give another supplier a go for any reason at all. Now imagine the other supplier already has the systems, processes and data use in place to not only meet your costs, but to provide your customer with an experience that makes their own job easier. How much more can you discount your cost to compete? And at what point would you really just be buying business?
- Observe (but act)
Look around the manufacturing industry and you’ll hear talk of Industry 4.0, intelligent factories, artificial intelligence, robotics, cyber security, digital strategy, digital skills, simulation, cost reduction and automation to name just a few! What are your competitors already doing? What are other sectors within manufacturing doing? Are there any insights there worth exploring? Observe now and get a feel for what progression looks like for your business, then start board level discussion about it.
- Big Data is Key
Data is only as helpful as the insights it can provide you with and you can only see the most valuable insights when the whole organisation’s data is brought together to provide a full picture. A set of data on its own can tell you a few things and could mislead you; wasting time, resource and opportunity. Data in context tells the truth and helps you to meet customer expectations with better products, services and prices.
- IT has never been more important
Who leads your IT strategy and how important is it to the board? It’s crucial that digital innovation is not seen as back office issue focused on operational efficiencies. It’s a culture that threads through every facet of your company empowering employees at all levels of the company.
- Start at the beginning
If you are a business trading on customer service and value, what are you currently doing manually that is slowing down your progress? How informed and effective are your client interactions? Are you turning information across the business into strategic opportunities and how are you currently going about that? Is there a better way? There is no point investing in any platforms, processes or equipment until you have answered all of those questions.
Take some time aside with your team and consider your current efficiency and effectiveness. Get an outside view of your systems, processes and corporate objectives. If you are looking at new systems, look at the bigger picture of integration of where you are now and where you plan to go. Scalability is crucial.