Today’s corporate customers expect the same rich B2C experience from you as they find with Bol.com or Coolblue. So, transactions need to be simple, the information must be sufficient and must be provided in an attractive way.
The better the digital experience you offer your B2B customers, the stronger the relations you build with them. At the same time, you benefit from lower costs, extra income and therefore increased profitability.
If you combine all the activities for each of your customers in one customer experience portal, you deliver a new level of efficiency and this leads to higher aftermarket sales and customer satisfaction.
For a growing group of industrial machinery manufacturers, aftermarket sales are worth more than 50% of their turnover. In spite of this, only 12% of manufacturers regard aftermarket sales as a competitive advantage.
Fortunately, a B2B commerce platform like Propeller makes it easier to make strategic use of the aftermarket and to achieve growth in this area, in an efficient manner.
Because, with a digital self-service portal from Propeller not only do you offer the B2C experience that customers have come to expect; you also improve the efficiency of your own operation, which leads to higher margins. Put briefly; a strategy to cement customer relations and improve profitability.
The aftermarket – including spare parts, maintenance visits, service contracts, technical support, advice, repairs, future options and consumables, just to name a few aspects – offers you as a manufacturer many touchpoints with your customers, and the convenience that you offer them leads to increased turnover and improved margins.
Aftermarket activities, therefore, need to form as much a part of your core business as the initial sales of the machines. Research has revealed that ensuring the loyalty of existing customers costs a fifth as much as establishing relations with new customers. Because you already have your customers in the aftermarket, and you know who you are dealing with. Many of the machines and/or other production resources that they have bought from you have a lifetime of years. That is a great opportunity to strengthen relations with your customers and to create added value for them.
We set out below some of the ways in which you can improve your return on aftermarket customers via a customer experience portal.
For all these aspects it has been established that customer satisfaction increases (due to the improved quality of service), whilst operational costs decrease (as a result of the increasing use of self-service applications).
Instead of burdening customers with a new hard copy catalog every time, and expecting them to plow their way through lists of spare parts to identify the right item, you offer a digital catalog.
After logging in, your customer can see which machines are in operation in their division/branch and can follow the visual search tools to select precisely the right parts. They can call up machine diagrams and photographs, are directed to the right parts, and all the details of the order are automatically added when the order is placed.
If a product needs to be repaired, by logging into the same customer experience portal the person reporting the problem can identify the item and check its current guarantee status.
Your customer can schedule in a day and a time for a technical discussion over the phone, or for an engineer to be present, or print out a shipping label if the item needs to be sent to a repair center. Additional status information is also available at all times via the same portal.
Many support problems can be resolved by someone who has access to the right information. All the relevant technical annotations, diagrams, repair manuals, tutorials, FAQ lists, history of repairs or replacements, and even video training are available in the customer experience portal, for everyone with the right authorization.
The more that people can provide for their own requirements, the more your own technical personnel can concentrate on more complex and valuable matters. If the solution to a problem goes further than obtaining information, you can facilitate direct contact. In the meantime, you will have helped many customers already, simply by making information available online.
Via a customer experience portal, the customer can check and correct information (for example, delivery addresses, invoice addresses, etc.). Quotations can be presented, making the emailing of proposals back and forth history.
Other examples are order history, order status, (re-) orders, overviews of guarantees, etc., etc.
All of this is to be found in one central portal for the customer.
If all the processes take place in your commerce platform (so, including the processing of quotations and other offline requests), you have access to all the relevant data in your platform. So, your products, customer information, orders, purchase prices, discounts, etc. All customer-specific. You can base a wide variety of marketing activities on this.
For instance, you could send automatic messages to extend guarantees, anticipate predictable lifecycles, and introduce relevant replacement products. Fully automated and personalized.
Aftermarket sales services form a stable backbone for industrial machinery manufacturers. The (successful) initial sale of the apparatus is under increasing pressure due to:
So, it is important for the continuity of a business to generate a large, stable undercurrent of income with existing customers. With a carefully designed customer experience portal and marketing automation, you can increase customer satisfaction and work more efficiently.