CRM Software for Manufacturers : How Analyzing Customer Needs Enhances Products

"Here’s what we make…now who wants to buy it?" This point of view has dominated the manufacturing psyche for decades. But, no longer can the consumer be counted upon to buy what a manufacturer makes. In today’s fast paced consumer centric markets, the paradigm must change to “what does our customer want”. Gone are the days when Ford only offered only black color 'T' model cars and you had to buy them.

While the ultimate purpose of any CRM system is to increase profit – this profit increase is generated by better service and better understanding of the customer needs. Customer needs are much broader than just the product and the features it encompasses. Isolation of the consumers’ perspective in the product design and delivery in today’s market will practically guarantee product dissatisfaction and reduced sales.

So, how can CRM systems help to make this quantum leap from consumer isolation to consumer integration? First, CRM changes the way a company thinks through the messages received from consumers. It structures the company on the customer needs and not on the factory floor. Most importantly, CRM provides connectivity between the consumers, design team, shop floor and the supply chain.
The expectations of consumers vary depending on:
  • Social and demographic factors 
  • Economic profile 
  • Education of the consumer 
  • Competition for the product 
  • Customers experience with the product
A CRM system will allow manufacturers to better understand and define each of these factors for their product. When reviewed, this basket of variables clearly shows that one size does not fit all. By defining the expectations of customers the manufacturer will be able to enhance those service features which will keep customers loyal and to eliminate those product features either no longer required or desired.

By focusing on and understanding the needs of the customer, manufacturers can then focus their production and service efforts. They can place emphasis on products which have the greatest growth potential and eliminate those products on the down side of their lifecycle. Customer service is no longer something that is “done to” the customer, but a dynamic interface between the customer and the manufacturer. Customer service today is “done with” the customer!

Relationships between a manufacturer and the customer need to be on-going and dynamic, transitory relationships require increased expenditures in finding new customer. Pareto’s Law, commonly known as the 80:20 rule tells a manufacturer that 20% of their customer base accounts for 80% of their profits. It becomes very important for organizations to retain these 20% customers and find new customers who can match the profiles of the existing profitable customers.

CRM in manufacturing has become a critical business competency in an ever-changing marketplace. Without the assistance of a dynamic and effective CRM solution this can become marginalized.