Posted on October 20, 2021

Data Sharing to Enhance the Customer Experience

John Joyce
Written by

John Joyce

Posted in
Distributed Manufacturing

With the demands of today’s just-in-time expectations and global markets, the manufacturer—distributor relationship is wholly interdependent.  Without manufacturers, distributors would have nothing to sell - without distributors, manufacturers would struggle getting their products to customers.  The relationship between producer and wholesaler/distributor has existed since the agricultural revolution when farmers provided produce and blacksmiths made hardware.  They sold their products at the town grocer and agricultural implements & mechanics’ tools shops (today’s hardware stores) who then sold those products to consumers.

Today, significant advancements in technology and technical systems allows a product manufactured in Boise, Idaho to be automatically fulfilled at a distributor warehouse in Birmingham, England who delivers it to a customer in Newport, South Wales.   Theoretically, all in the same day – practically within one to three days.  And all this can occur with very little human interaction, yet with a tremendous amount of data sharing.  Even as recently as 10 to 20 years ago warehouse workers wasted considerable amounts of time traveling throughout the warehouse to move product and get it to the customer.  Yet improvements in flexibility and timeliness provided by evolving technologies reduces waste in the product distribution process as well as enhancing the customer experience through collection and sharing of data.

Customer Experience (CX): Seamless Manufacturer — Distributor Interaction

We all know the days of having a “paper trail” to keep track of customer communications and orders are long gone.  There are simply too many moving parts in the world today.  Instead, the advent of digital transformation provides an integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, allowing an organization to operate efficiently and provide enhanced value to its customers. For many organizations it’s a cultural change that requires them to continually challenge “how things were” and a willingness to be flexible with “how things are”. What we now refer to as customer experience (CX) enables the collective result of every interaction a business has with its customers to be seamless, such as the interactions between and manufacturer (OEM) and distributor, or with the end user if selling direct. Because in most cases the manufacturer’s customer is the distributor, data sharing is imperative to their mutual success.  Leveraging a CX platform allows for the development and implementation of points of contact, or “touchpoints”.   A CX platform monitors those touchpoints for their individual performance in order to constantly improve them, measuring the weight of importance of each, creating, and continuously adjusting the relevant hierarchy of communications.

Enhancing the customer experience is always the goal of manufacturers and suppliers.   These digital transformation initiatives provide a stronger CX.  It’s no secret that when the customer experience is enhanced an organization will realize increased sales and brand loyalty, while improving efficiencies and reducing operating costs.

CX or sometimes referred to as DCX in the digital world, is not just about sales and marketing. According to Forrester analysts, most digital experience platforms concentrate their resources on marketing, sales, and the interconnectivity in their commerce.  All the while neglecting customer service, retention and continual customer facing engagement.  It’s important to remember that good customer CX is not just marketing and selling, but also about  creating experiences that apply to the entire customer lifecycle.  It must include customer service that quickly responds to a customer’s questions in a personalized manner.  It can include AI chatbots but should also be supported by a live help desk.

Bad Customer Experience (CX)

On the other hand, negative experiences leave the customer feeling disappointed and frustrated.  And the supplier’s brand can take a hit.  Negative CX typically comes from the customer’s perception that the company doesn’t care to take the time to know them, understand their business and specific needs, ultimately making them feel the company is difficult to do business with.  These perceptions often stem from:

  • Inaccurate data
  • Incorrect or short shipments
  • Inferior products
  • Irrelevant or generic marketing communications
  • Late shipments
  • Slow or dropped resolution of customer service requests 
  • Websites that are difficult to navigate

Both in our personal and professional lives it is an increasingly personalized world where generic, one-size-fits-all customer interactions are aggravating and ineffective.  This is especially the case due to the fact that customers and prospects provide a wealth of information about themselves — whether the know it or not.  There is no excuse for a disconnect between a brand and its customers in today’s data-driven, connected world.  The customer’s time is valuable, expectations are high, and their management demands efficiency from all parties.

“It takes years to win a customer and only seconds to lose one.”

—Catherine DeVrye

#1 best-selling author on customer service, change, teamwork & resilience.

To Recap

Customer CX is clearly explained by Raj Sabhlok, President at Zoho Corp on Techopedia Inc.’s website:

The outlook or perception that a customer builds around a company is influenced by the different channels through which a customer interacts with that company. I call these channels interaction points. The company's website, social media messaging, advertisements and other channels are a few examples of these interaction points.

Tools that enable enterprises to monitor and manage these interaction points are called customer experience (CX) platforms. CX platforms are usually a collection of tools that help companies establish their customer interaction goals. The breadth of channels through which customers can interact with a company is often so spread out that it's difficult for just one solution to monitor them all. It should be noted that exceptions to this will become more frequent as the importance of monitoring customer experience is on the rise.

An important component of any CX platform is analytics. The data collected by CX platforms serve as feedback to different groups or departments in a company, such as marketing, product management, top-level decision makers and more. Analytics helps visually communicate the collected data to these groups in an easily digestible format. Most CX platforms offer built-in analytics as part of the package; however, it's not uncommon for companies to use third-party BI (Business Intelligence) software to analyze this data.

CX analytics helps companies assess the overall experience customers have with their brand and help them take corrective action if anything seems off.

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