The age of the connected customer is here – and their expectations are firmly rooted around experiences. In fact, 80% of UK consumers say experience is as important as products and services. 

To keep your customers loyal – and to stand out against the competition – manufacturers must now look beyond product differentiation. That can mean pulling off a dramatic shift in perspective, as well as making smart investments in the connected technology you need to surprise and engage customers with intelligent interactions.

Here’s how to make it happen.


Sales and Service transformation: in stages

With consumers expecting seamless, end-to-end engagement across the entire customer lifecycle, you need to empower every team in your business to deliver smart, seamless and context-aware customer service.

For most manufacturers this will mean transforming your service capabilities, both within your sales and service functions, and beyond. This doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. In fact, you can break it down into three key stages:


1. Gain a bird’s eye view

To enhance customer engagement when and where it counts, your people need a full, 360-degree view of every customer engagement – regardless of the channels used.

2. Contextualise every interaction

If customers have to tell you why they’re getting in touch twice, you’re still living in the past. Your sales and service people need fast, easy access to customer information from every past interaction.

3. Deliver enhanced experiences

Once you’ve put relevant customer information at everyone’s fingertips, you can really get to work – finding new ways to delight customers, driving cross- and up-sales, and locking down customer loyalty.


Service and sales transformation: the technologies

Technology is evolving alongside, and in some cases even ahead of, customer expectations. That’s why the smartest manufacturers are early adopters of new, innovative tech. The kind that connects and streamlines their internal processes so sales customer service can work in innovative new ways. 

In fact, 56% of customers actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies. And 71% say they buy products and services they didn’t know would exist five years ago. 

Here are three key technologies that are shaping customers’ expectations, and when deployed, will help you become a smarter, more connected and customer-centric organisation.


1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is helping organisations across every industry automate routine processes to free more time for higher value customer engagement, deploy chatbots for intelligent self-service, and even perform deep analysis of customer needs. Consumers are taking notice, with 51% saying AI has already impacted their expectations of brands.

2. The Internet of Things (IoT)

From smart watches, to smart televisions, to smart fridges. By 2030, IHM Market predicts there’ll be 125 billion connected devices worldwide. Many of these devices will act as a new customer touchpoint, and all will provide valuable data, supporting everything from targeted marketing to usage monitoring services.

3. Integrated sensors

By building sensors into your IoT connected products, you can remotely monitor performance and predict maintenance issues before the customer notices anything is wrong. What’s more, IoT data lets you zero in on the exact nature of the issue, helping your field service agents prepare best for a first-time fix.


Vax’s single source of truth

When 52% of manufacturing executives say their company is struggling to compete on product differentiation alone, it’s clear that customer value must also be delivered elsewhere. 

For UK electrical and cleaning manufacturer Vax, a smart omnichannel approach to customer service has allowed it to transform its contact centre from a cost centre into a revenue generator.

Vax’s service team was once using nine different systems to manage the manufacturer’s relationships with customers. Today, it’s consolidated all customer engagement onto a single, connected platform – Service Cloud.

This enables the Vax team to tap into a 360-degree view of over 2.5 million customers, with instant access to all the contextual information they need to drive customer engagement and deliver fast, intelligent omnichannel service. 

Notable benefits include:

  • 26% ecommerce sales growth year-on-year since 2015

  • Sales volumes of £1.6 million in four years – almost triple previous figures

  • An average increase of £10 for agent basket conversions


“You can’t put a value on time – we want every customer interaction to be seamless”

- Carole Edwards, Director of Customer Service, Vax


Get smart about customer engagement

If this blog has inspired you to rethink how you engage with customers across sales and service, you might want to read our new guidebook, ‘Next Level Customer Experience: Three Steps to Service Obsession’

Here, you’ll learn about the key challenges facing manufacturers today as they move beyond product differentiation, and how leading industry players like KONE have transformed to deliver smart, predictive sales and service both in the office and in the field.