CRM Solutions can Transform Manufacturers from Being Product Centric to Customer Centric

Manufacturing companies have traditionally relied on streamlining production processes to manufacture top-quality products and services. But in today’s business environment, it has become necessary to take a customer-centric approach rather than a product-centric one. Where once companies focused on producing goods and marketing these to potential customers, today it is essential to first understand customer needs and then create products based on these. This is why the application of Customer Relationship Management tools in manufacturing businesses has become vital.

In India, the manufacturing industry has seen tremendous growth with the shift from an agriculture based economy to a more industrialized setup post the 1991 liberalization. According to IDC India, the market for CRM solutions in the country was estimated at $ 140.8 million in 2008. Frost & Sullivan says that the CRM software market is expected to experience a CAGR of 16–19 percent between 2008 and 2014. With such exponential growth expected in the near future, CRM software is one business tool that cannot be overlooked anymore.

Why implement a CRM Software?
As markets become ever more competitive with a rise in new entries and consolidations, businesses have to constantly be ahead of the pack to stand out amongst competitors and retain (or gain) market share. In this race for a larger bite of the market share pie, CRM is a valuable tool which helps in identifying and targeting potential customers as well as retaining current customers and reacquiring the lapsed market.

CRM software provides valuable customer data
The essential aim of CRM in the manufacturing industry is to provide crucial customer data related to the customer’s buying behavior, thought process and interactions. By analyzing and using such customer data, businesses are able to achieve a holistic view of their customer and hence enhance their offering. If one were to get into the nitty-gritty, there is a large pool of lucrative data that can be received through CRM. One can track and/or understand sales KPIs, after-sales service needs, effectiveness of pay-per-click campaigns, promotional campaigns, effective pricing tactics and much more.

The role of CRM is not only to gather useful customer data but also to store and make it easily accessible throughout the organization. The analysis of customer data helps top management to make informed decisions across all business processes. In this sense, CRM in manufacturing helps integrate the sales, marketing and service functions.

How does CRM affect Sales, Marketing and Services?
While carrying out sales, CRM software identifies new sales opportunities, reduces the sales cycle and essentially streamlines the entire process with objective knowledge about the product-client interaction. It is used for cross-selling and up-selling products to the customer based on their individual needs and wants. For many companies this also opens up possibilities for sale of post-sale products and services as CRM identifies such demands, so that businesses may be able to meet them and earn additional profit.

Marketing campaigns are enhanced by dividing the market into identifiable segments and targeting each in an individual manner. With the use of CRM analytics and tools, customers can be moved further up on the loyalty ladder, turning them from mere prospects to advocates of the product. As Word-of-Mouth and User Generated Content gain momentum, the need for satisfied and loyal customers who act as advocates for the brand has also gained importance; CRM is the way forward in this regard.

CRM in manufacturing industry can improve customer service by ensuring the customers get what they want, when they want and how they want it. To enhance customer experience, manufacturers tend to use specific customer-oriented tools. Client portals are used to gain feedback. A solutions knowledge base is used to understand the most common problems faced by customers and communicate these to the production team to improve quality and sales team to improve services. These help in improving the overall customer experience and hence enhance customer services.

All businesses, whether big or small rely on customers to sustain themselves. A customer is the lifeline of the business and CRM software is the tool which pumps blood into it. It ensures that the company eliminates unnecessary workload and increases efficiency by working with and through the client. The bottom line is that a satisfied customer helps boost sales and increase profits - CRM is the essential boost to that bottom line which is required by all manufacturing companies today.