In today’s complex manufacturing environment, CLM helps customers and salespeople make viable product choices.
CLM brings with it better customer experiences, higher speed and accuracy, and the possibility of higher sales.
By Jens Ellebaek, consulting offerings manager, Configit
The products that manufacturers are currently selling are getting more complicated, more configurable, and have more variations available. Manufacturers need to put these configurations within the context of the user by speaking the user’s language and quickly presenting them with pertinent information to prevent users from becoming confused.
Everything boils down to enhancing the customer experience, which will ultimately promote sales. An organization’s management of the configuration lifecycle is, therefore, crucial in this setting.
Because you’re working with users who have a variety of backgrounds and different capabilities, the challenge arises from how to present all information about the various options of today’s more complex products in a way that is simple to understand for both sales reps and your customers.
You need to handle this two-edged sword with caution. Customers should be made aware of all the innovative possibilities for your products without overwhelming them. Rather, you want to make the purchasing process as easy as possible for them. To achieve that, you must communicate the configurator concept—typically the purview of engineers—in a way that makes sense to the user.
Giving customers what they want
Manufacturing customers desire a purchasing experience like that of B2C transactions. They don’t necessarily want to have in-depth discussions with salespeople. They’re increasingly seeking information that’s available to them on their terms and in a more user-friendly format.
They’re used to quicker turnaround times, too. It follows that content must be accessible in a variety of formats, and the applications you use must be user-focused and simple to use.
You’ll need a few best practices to do this well. Consider this scenario: you decide to buy a car to accommodate your growing family. Most likely, you don’t care what kind of engine it has or how a particular component was made. You care about the car’s performance, gas mileage and passenger capacity.
You need the ability to deliver pertinent information to the right customers when you’re targeting various user groups with various information. You also must make sure that the choices customers make when buying the products are feasible within the parameters of the product. It’s about focusing on what your prospects are looking for by using persona analysis and other criteria.
CLM: Automated customer guidance
Using Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) makes it easier to direct and monitor the customer’s purchase journey. By virtue of how this works, you end up with a centralized configuration model that can be applied to numerous systems and channels, enabling you to target various user groups while using the same data.
This promotes a stronger ongoing relationship through the whole product lifecycle. When you visit a grocery store, you buy your groceries and leave. However, when you buy a car, you anticipate that it will serve you for at least a few years, and throughout that time, you’ll probably need improvements or repairs here and there — it has a more continuous lifecycle.
That is comparable to what occurs in the manufacturing industry, where machinery and equipment need to be maintained and upgraded over the course of a product’s life. Therefore, the sales process is not a one-off, point-in-time event. CLM enables manufacturers to follow the consumer during the whole lifecycle of the product, not only during the purchasing process.
When you design your models, it’s crucial to concentrate on centralizing your configuration if you want to implement CLM correctly. You’ll be able to lessen tedious procedures and break down functional silos related to your configuration knowledge. With centralization, you’ll be able to respond swiftly to customer requests, engage with them and adjust to a changing market where unforeseen supply chain issues or regulatory restrictions may arise. Additionally, it will guarantee that buyers are always directed toward a viable product.
Configuration as a sales enabler
Customers seek assurance that the products they receive are the appropriate ones, and manufacturers are expected to provide this assurance. For this to happen, they require qualified guidance. Your staff and customers will always receive the appropriate information and details when they need them if you use CLM as a tool to enable this.
Consumers and potential customers feel empowered to make the best decisions when they receive everything they need in a timely manner. This improves their opinion of your business, which often results in high levels of loyalty and repeat business. CLM is a method whose time has come, bringing with it better customer experiences, higher speed and accuracy, and the possibility of higher sales.
About the author
Jens Ellebæk is a consulting offerings manager for Configit, where he’s worked for the past 15 years. He has a master’s degree in software engineering and has been a major contributor to configuration projects at FIAT Industrial, John Deere, Grundfos, Schneider Electric, Nederman and many others.
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