Manufacturing Sales Customer Experience

Exploring a better manufacturing customer experience (CX)
Discover strategic solutions enhancing customer experience and customer satisfaction within your manufacturing operations. This guide provides proven methods and real-world evidence to transform challenges into opportunities for growth with a customer experience strategy.

Why customer experience matters

To remain relevant and competitive in a market that increasingly values efficiency and personalization, elevating the customer experience is emerging as a core differentiator along with customer loyalty. Studies reinforce this, finding 89% of businesses believe exceptional customer experience (CX) will be their primary basis for competition(1). Companies excelling in CX increase their sales at a rate 4-8 percent higher than the market average (2), which illustrates the strategic importance and profit potential of customer-centric initiatives.​

Inversely, there is inherent risk in manufacturers maintaining the status quo. 49% of customers who left a brand did so due to poor CX, indicating the high stakes of failing to meet expectations. Moreover, customers are 2.4 times more likely to stick with a brand that solves their problems quickly, reinforcing the need for efficient and responsive customer service (3).

1. https://thecxlead.com/topics/importance-of-customer-experience/
2. https://www.bain.com/insights/are-you-experienced-infographic/
3. https://emplifi.io/press/86-percent-consumers-will-leave-brand-after-two-poor-experiences

Customer experience challenges and opportunities for manufacturing companies

Ensuring on-time delivery

In the face of growing need for  positive experience for customers, punctual delivery has become a cornerstone of satisfied customers . Manufacturers are seeking innovative ways with customer experience management to uphold this promise without compromising on quality or customer interaction. To navigate this we must be:

  • Introducing automation in sales and design allows for clearer communication and faster deal closure  for a better customer experience solution
  • Optimizing supply chain logistics and enhancing production scheduling
  • Developing more agile manufacturing practices like advanced manufacturing, robotics, and other automation

For instance, TRX Training utilized Autodesk 3ds Max and Inventor for faster, more accurate visualizations, improving quote turnaround dramatically. Similarly, Nucor Warehouse Systems harnessed automation to expedite assembly processes, which widened the net for who could participate in the design process.

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Product variability and rapid development

The push for rapid innovation is relentless, yet it must be balanced with the intricacies of product customization for customers. How do we work on the iterative changes and customizations efficiently for the best customer experience solution?

Automating the engineering phase

Leaders are finding success through design automation, a dynamic approach that accelerates the design process while allowing for precise, tailored product development, to make the customer journey seamless for a great customer experience. Advanced solutions exemplify this by facilitating design from multiple perspectives, ensuring that customer needs and requirements are not just met but optimized within existing business constraints with a personalized experience to ensure satisfied customers.

“We needed a competitive advantage in the marketplace. To win, we knew we needed a quicker proposal and design process, and to provide a turn-key solution to customers that showed the full value of our racking systems.”

Automating sales configuration

Sales configuration and CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) technology empower manufacturers to respond swiftly to customer feedback and demands for product customization, providing accurate, real-time configurations and pricing that streamline the path from concept to delivery and achieve customer expectations. Koen Boot of Vencomatic Group attests to Tacton CPQ’s agility in handling complex product configurations without being confined to a linear decision path. This approach not only speeds up their time-to-market but also enhances customer engagement and the satisfaction of delivering products that truly resonate with market needs and customer desires.

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The Power of Proposals: Connecting sales and engineering for exceptional customer service

Equipment accessibility with less risk

In the pursuit of a stable revenue stream, manufacturing leaders are revolutionizing their business models through innovative solutions like Equipment-as-a-Service (EaaS). This strategy allows customers to ‘subscribe’ to necessary equipment, maintenance, and support, mitigating risk and converting capital expenditures to operational ones. This not only ensures higher equipment uptime for clients but also opens doors for manufacturers to deepen business relationships and explore revenue sharing models.

A shining example of efficiency and increased capacity is seen in the Central Arizona Project, which, through strategic productivity enhancements and advanced CADD standards, has impressively doubled its workload capacity without additional staffing, underpinning the value of smart work capacity management. This transformative approach is corroborated by Bain & Company’s analysis, revealing that EaaS can yield up to 50% more revenue for vendors compared to traditional sales models.

Equipment-as-a-Service doubles revenue potential for products
The total lifetime value of the products using EaaS can deliver 50% more of the revenue to the vendor while staying in the traditional sales model only nets a possible 25% of revenue.
Source: Bain & Company - https://www.bain.com/insights/choosing-the-right-pricing-model-for-equipment-as-a-service

Product cross-selling and upselling awareness

Not realizing what’s possible can be the greatest barrier to boosting deal sizes. By leveraging upselling and cross-selling tactics, complemented by the potential of upselling and cross-selling, advanced pricing and bundling, allows manufacturing companies to exceed customer expectations while enhancing order values.

This strategy is underpinned by CPQ (configure, price and quote) software, which simplifies the customization process, allowing for easy add-on features and eliminating traditional barriers to larger orders. The result is a seamless, intuitive experience that encourages customers to invest more in products that are tailored to their unique needs, driving up the deal size and enhancing overall satisfaction.

Reducing errors and standardizing orders

Enhancing the buying experience

Addressing the intricacies of manual order entry, which often lead to costly change orders, product errors, and waste, requires a shift towards automation. By implementing a guided sales experience, we can enhance the accuracy of product selections and pricing, streamline the order entry process, and significantly reduce the potential for human error. This not only boosts manufacturing efficiency but also cuts down on waste and product returns, as evidenced by Nucor Warehouse Systems‘ ability to auto-generate comprehensive order documentation. This transition to automation not only streamlines operations but also represents a commitment to precision and sustainability in manufacturing practices.

Consistent Communication through Standardization

To further refine the customer’s purchasing experience, there is a pressing need to standardize product options which can help decrease the chance of a bad customer experience. This not only simplifies communication during ordering but also guarantees that all components are compatible, which is confirmed through a rigorous, error-proof process ensuring the overall customer experience is exceptional. With a standardized quotation system like the one adopted by Eldon Group, we assure quality and accuracy, providing professional-looking documents that uphold our brand’s reputation and leaving a positive customer experience.

Accurate, error-free quotes
"The Quotation solution is used across the business and in all markets. It ensures quality and accuracy because we know with certainty that the different components fit together and can be manufactured. Our process is much more rigorous today and our orders are accurate and error-free."
Source: Mats Toftebrant, CIO and Partner, Eldon Group - Courtesy of Tacton

Shortening and simplifying the sales cycle

A cumbersome sales process can be a major source of customer dissatisfaction. Streamlining this process by empowering sales teams to quickly generate accurate and comprehensive quotes is pivotal. With tools that facilitate the rapid configuration of pricing and quotes, sales cycles are significantly shortened, leading to a significant boost in customer satisfaction.

TOMRA Fresh Food | Compac’s innovative approach exemplifies this efficiency. By assembling complex 3D models swiftly, they provide customers with an immersive visual and detailed pricing, thereby accelerating decision-making and enhancing the overall buying experience. This real-time capability not only boosts the speed of the sales cycle but also elevates customer engagement through interactive and transparent presentations.

A better sales team experience

By enabling sales teams to configure accurate quotes promptly, we not only trim the sales cycle but also boost staff morale by reducing complexities. Furthermore, this streamlined approach serves as a training platform, offering guided selling that can educate and grow employee experience, ensuring faster success in their role and impact to the bottom line.

1500% Boost in Design Efficiency
ClearStream Environmental reduced their design time from 4-6 weeks to as little as two days!
Source: ClearStream Environmental - Courtesy of Tacton

Reducing design cycle time

Design automation for efficient customization

Reducing the time of extensive design cycles is imperative. By harnessing generative design, 3D modeling, and BOM automation, design teams can significantly compress these cycles. Transpac‘s shift from AutoCAD to Inventor exemplifies this advancement, enabling multiple team members to work concurrently on a single document, enhancing efficiency and precision in design execution.

Data management for streamlined collaboration

A standardized template and automation within the design process are pivotal in mitigating redundancy and avoiding bottlenecks. Engineering and design data should help and not hinder, and effective data management is key. For example, the creation of a master library of commonly used design components, allows designers to swiftly generate bespoke configurations tailored to customer specifications.

Cleaver-Brooks utilizes 3D assembly planning, allowing the design team to anticipate client needs by preparing adaptable templates. Post customer approval, these assemblies are deftly modified to finalize fabrication drawings, thus optimizing the journey from design to manufacturing, reducing time, and ensuring accuracy. This method exemplifies how centralized resources and intelligent software can revolutionize product development cycles.

Simulation for enhanced prototyping

Simulation technology plays a critical role in validating and testing designs, propelling new products beyond the prototyping phase swiftly and with minimal risk. Firefly Aerospace‘s utilization of Ansys Simulation to experiment with environmental conditions and physics exemplifies how simulation can perfect designs through iterative testing with an efficient user experience.

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Master Library Approach for Effortless Design and Manufacturing
KETIV created a master library of common products that could be used to create unique configurations for potential customers. This master library was utilized by the design team to create a 3D designed general assembly within Autodesk’s Inventor product during the planning stage. Once a customer approved the design, this assembly could be easily modified by designers to create the fabrication drawing for manufacturing.
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Product quality and reliability

Ensuring product quality and reliability is pivotal to maintaining customer loyalty, trust, and satisfaction. By using customer experience analytics and implementing stringent quality control processes and leveraging advanced simulation technologies, companies can consistently deliver products that meet, if not exceed, customer expectations. Gabe Hill, a Product Development Engineer at IDEX Health & Science, emphasizes the crucial role of simulation in product development, stating that it is key to fulfilling commitments and ensuring customer satisfaction. This approach not only safeguards the release of reliable products but also solidifies the customer’s confidence in the company’s ability to deliver solutions without compromise because of a good customer experience.

“In this space that we work in, if we can't solve a problem and get the product released, we may completely lose that opportunity with the customer. So by using simulation to solve these problems, it aids in us keeping our commitments to our customers and their overall satisfaction.”

Clarity in customer purchasing

Empowering customers with the tools for self-service, or enabling sales representatives to provide instant visual previews, revolutionizes the purchasing experience. It negates the need for lengthy waits on engineering inputs and offers a tangible, clear representation of what’s being purchased.

For example, TOMRA Fresh Foods | Compac has leveraged this to give customers an interactive view of how their sorting systems integrate within existing operations, granting them a significant edge by demystifying complex product assemblies and fostering confident buying decisions. This approach not only clarifies the offering but also streamlines the integration process, illustrating a proactive and customer-centric sales journey.

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Visual Product Configurator for Manufacturing: The Ultimate Guide

Meeting regulatory standards

Adhering to regulatory standards is not just a compliance measure, but a cornerstone of customer trust. But what’s the safest, fastest, and most cost-effective way to meet this often rigorous standards? Through advanced simulation and validation processes, engineers have the ability to ensure product designs align with the full spectrum of industry-specific regulations, including safety, environmental, and performance standards. Such precision in design not only mitigates compliance risks but also significantly accelerates product development cycles.

A prime example is Medtronic’s application of in Silico methods, which streamlined their clinical trials for a micro leadless pacemaker, culminating in substantial cost savings, expedited patient enrollment, and an accelerated market entry. This not only exemplifies fiscal prudence and operational efficiency but also reflects a deep commitment to patient well-being, showcasing the profound impact regulatory adherence can have on society at large.

Innovating for Impact: Medtronic's In Silico Journey
By applying in Silico methods to address key questions in the clinical trial design of their micro leadless pacemaker, Medtronic reduced the trial size by 256 patients. This reduction saved an estimated $10 million in costs and shortened the time to enroll critical patients by two years. The accelerated timeline allowed Medtronic to introduce their innovative therapy to the market two years earlier, benefiting 10,000 high-risk patients who would have been ineligible for traditional treatment.
Source: Ansys

Demand for more eco-conscious manufacturing

As consumer preferences shift decisively towards sustainability, manufacturers must adopt eco-friendly practices. Efforts can start with integrating sustainable materials into your supply chain, and openly share environmental efforts with customers. Such transparency not only aligns with evolving market values but also demonstrates a commitment to future-proofing the industry.

The Autodesk Design & Make Report 2023 underscores this reality, revealing that a significant portion of manufacturers are dedicating thousands of hours annually to meet federal environmental regulations, highlighting the intensive effort and resources committed to sustainability. This dedication not only fulfills regulatory requirements but also resonates with the eco-conscious consumer, ensuring that a manufacturer’s relevance is secured in an increasingly green-focused economy.

Resources for creating a better CX