Customer demands, changing buying habits and advances in technology have all conspired to make service both your key point of differentiation, and the most important battleground with your competitors. As a manufacturer, it’s no longer enough to simply deliver a product to a customer – even if it performs exactly to specification. The customer’s ongoing experience has become a core part of the value you offer.
What once represented the end of your interaction with a customer – the delivery of a finished product – is now just the start of a lasting relationship. That relationship will require frequent communication, an understanding of what the customer needs from you moving forward, and very likely, a change in the way that you structure and sell your aftermarket services. In practice, those changes might involve anything from dedicating more resources to aftermarket service and exploring new channels for customer communication, to building entirely new service-focused business models.
This shift towards greater service is a major opportunity for transformation, innovation and modernisation – helping you to better serve customers for decades to come, while opening up lucrative and long-lasting revenue streams and improving relationships. With the help of new technology, you can transform the way you interact with customers – going beyond better communication and enabling proactive, predictive service delivery, adopting pay-as-you-use monetisation models, and delivering the physical products you produce as subscription-based services. In this preview we’ll explore what customers expect of manufacturers today, how you can start delivering the kinds of connected and convenient service experiences they demand, and where powerful opportunities lie for monetising those services in new and exciting ways.
To understand exactly why service has become so important to your customers, and where the servitisation opportunity has come from, we need to start by looking back a little bit.
Together, social, smartphone and web technology have created a culture where people expect to be able to ask questions of manufacturers and receive answers immediately.
Customer service technology and channels have evolved to accommodate this culture, with new tools such as intelligent chatbots emerging to help facilitate demand for instant service conversations, through whichever channel is most convenient for the customer.
Alongside this meteoric shift in the importance of customer service and experience, we’ve also seen the “as-a-service” purchasing and monetisation model mature and develop. As services like Netflix have become ubiquitous, customers have become increasingly comfortable paying for a service, rather than a physical product.
As a manufacturer of physical goods, it would be easy to think that it’s a trend that simply doesn’t apply to you. But, many of the world’s biggest industrial manufacturers are already demonstrating the power of servitisation for products that don’t immediately appear to lend themselves to the concept at all.