What's your competitive advantage?

You'd be surprised how often people immediately jump into product features when I ask that question. The digital economy is here, and customer expectations have increased exponentially. It’s no longer enough just to provide a great product.

With all of that in mind, the tips below will outline how you can meet modern customer expectations and simultaneously gain an advantage over your competition, drive customer loyalty, and increase your profit margins.

If you didn't check out my last article, Change is Inevitable: 3 Core Areas OEMs Should Focus On, then you may not be familiar with my background. In the article, I mentioned that, for a better portion of my career, I've been immersed in the manufacturing industry. This experience has given me insights into where operational gaps can occur and how you can overcome them. In this article, I want to take a deeper dive into one of those gaps in particular: addressing customer expectations.

Think About the Modern Buying Process

If you're looking to purchase a product, often the first thing you do is search for it online. Typically, you do this to get an idea of what kind of reviews the product has and where you can purchase it for the lowest price.

Customers are looking for a simple, fast, and efficient way to search, identify, and purchase an item online. And if the item is a complex piece of machinery with a significant price tag, those expectations are even more important to your customers.

Addressing Customers Expectations

Subconsciously, we all search, review and select the items we're interested in buying to build confidence in the product we're considering purchasing. If thousands of other people have given it a positive review, then it's probably the right option to buy. And if you are expecting to be able to search, review and select options online – then your customers almost certainly are, too.

Applying this Concept to Manufacturing

Manufacturers can adopt these tools to meet customer expectations, and simultaneously drive higher profit margins and build customer loyalty.

How? Below are three ways you can start applying this to your manufacturing enterprise:

1. Accessibility

Offer an online storefront where they can easily access equipment parts information.

2. Social Proof

Case studies help showcase problems and how you've helped a customer solve that problem in a similar space. Testimonials are another great tool to convey social proof.

3. Support

You're in manufacturing, so you have a good understanding of the competitive landscape of your customers. Giving them fast, accurate support -- when they need it -- will greatly improve their experience with you and help turn them into repeat customers.

To meet modern-day customer expectations, applying those three concepts will help give you an advantage over your competitors. Because after all, a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.

Scott Sparks is the sales director for Documoto, an AEM member company that seeks to provide innovative software solutions for equipment manufacturers, their dealer network, and their equipment owners to keep the world’s machines working. 

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