Customer demands for a more personalized and streamlined experience have grown exponentially within the last three years.
Manufacturers that have continued to succeed have adapted to these new needs of their clientele. To achieve this, many have focused on creating a more customer-centric manufacturing and production model for their business.
While this sounds helpful in theory, it may feel overwhelming to begin implementing a customer-centric model within your facilities. Let’s start by defining what customer-centric practices consist of and the steps you can take to apply these strategies.
What is Customer-Centric Manufacturing?
Customer-centric manufacturing may sound self-explanatory: it encompasses a group of methods and tactics to meet the changing needs of your customers in each step of your production process.
But here’s why it’s become so important. Since the beginning of the pandemic, other industries have drastically changed their process to revolve around customer service. For example, many stores introduced curbside pickup, and companies like Instacart skyrocketed in popularity.
These services increased customers’ expectations for other industries. In fact, Netomi reported that more than 65% of consumers expect better customer service than they did three to five years ago.
Since then, they have wanted high-quality products at their door even sooner. Customers are most interested in patronizing companies committed to a seamless customer experience with reliable service, customizable options and innovative products.
But catering to these needs is almost sure to pay off. Seven of 10 U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers excellent service.
So, if you’re looking to start prioritizing customer-centric practices in your manufacturing business, here’s where you can start:
Build Achievable Goals
It’s all well and good to say you’ll commit to customer-centric ideals, but you need concrete goals to have a way to measure your success.
Goals will vary from industry to industry and from facility to facility, but let’s consider some high-level benchmarks that can be tailored to your specific needs. In general, your objectives will likely revolve around decreasing turnaround time, increasing quality control and expanding your product capabilities.
Beyond these, consider tracking your customer return rate. Yes, manufacturing leaders are invested in product revenue and how their company’s bottom line is performing. But from a customer-centric point of view, tracking how many buyers are repeat customers can give you helpful insight.
This statistic indicates that their service experience has likely been a positive one. If those numbers are climbing, it can point to the success of your customer-centric efforts.
As you’re creating your target benchmarks, it can be helpful to use the SMART model. Using this process, you can define goals that are specific (S), measurable (M), Achievable (A), relevant (R) and time-bound (T).
Building measurable and achievable goals for your customer-centric process transition will be most important, ensuring you can easily identify whether your new practices are successful.
Customer-Centric Strategies and Focal Points
Let’s look at major areas your team can focus on improving and new tactics to weave into your production process.
Customer-centric manufacturing means getting products safely to your customer as quickly as possible. That means it’s time to review your picking, packing and shipping processes for potential obstacles hurting your employees’ productivity.
Whether you’re transitioning to customer-centric manufacturing or looking to optimize your warehouse as a whole, it’s crucial to perform these reviews consistently to find opportunities to develop your process.
This could include investing in new picking technology, such as handheld, wearable devices or voice-activated technology, or implementing material handlers to reduce transport and storage time. With tools like these, your team can move orders out the door more quickly.
Quality Control Complaints
Maintaining high control standards is crucial for customer-centric manufacturing facilities. Plus, it’s a measurable factor – you can see how your quality control efforts are improving as you analyze the number of complaints or returns you’re receiving based on products that aren’t working properly.
There are several ways to help boost your quality control efforts to satisfy your customers’ needs, including:
Smart Technology and Customer Data
Investing in smart technology, like warehouse management systems, is a way for manufacturers to level up their organizational skills and reduce the likelihood of errors in customer orders or your employees’ picking process.
It can streamline your internal process while gathering crucial data about your customer’s habits – what they’re ordering, their common issues, whether they’re a repeat customer and what items are often ordered together. This information helps your business understand your customer better, in and outside the warehouse. From there, your team can utilize that data to create a better user experience in every stage of your customer’s purchasing journey.
Smart warehousing can assist in several areas of your warehousing process, including:
- Decreasing human labor costs
- Minimizing picking or shipping errors
- Reducing the likelihood of employee accidents
- Improving overall inventory visibility
- Increasing operation efficiencies
- Enhancing warehouse productivity data collection and analytics
Customers today enjoy personalizing their products, from styles to finishes to sizes to colors. If your competitor can offer more customized products, you will be less able to compete with them in the marketplace.
Customer-centric practices include expanding your customization capabilities and assessing if these new changes impact your revenue and/or customer return rate.
Ask yourself where there are possibilities to expand your customization abilities and what technology, tools, storage systems or shipping materials your employees would need to make it happen.
Modern Assembly Demands
For your business, customer-centric manufacturing may require improved assembly processes and additional technology. Devices like material handlers will help your employees work quickly, with less effort needed and more time to ensure their orders are being fulfilled correctly.
Industrial manipulators can play a significant part in transitioning to customer-centric practices. They’re designed to improve your warehouse’s efficiency, take on unnecessary physical labor from your employees and save your company money in the future. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about how our industrial manipulators can support your manufacturing business.