Supercharge Your Aftermarket Profits With Digital Customer Experiences

by Adobe Manufacturing Team

posted on 08-08-2017

As a manufacturer of industrial and commercial grade cleaning solutions, Tennant sells not only durable equipment, but also consumable cleaning products and replacement parts. Once customers have purchased Tennant equipment, the company ensures their continued satisfaction — and loyalty — with aftermarket sales of replenishment products. By bringing all sales into a single dashboard with saved preferences, Tennant delivers a whole new level of efficiency, which leads to increased aftermarket sales and customer satisfaction.

If you’re ignoring aftermarket service and sales opportunities, you’re walking away from a big portion of your revenue. For 35 percent of industrial machine manufacturers, aftermarket sales provide at least half of their annual revenue, but only 12 percent of manufacturers view aftermarket sales as a competitive differentiator. Fortunately, digital experiences, such as the ones Tennant delivers, pave the way for manufacturers to develop strategies for a lucrative aftermarket opportunity. Not only will you be offering customers more of the B2C experiences they want, but your operations will become more efficient and profitable. It’s a winning strategy to increase earnings and build continuous relationships with your consumers.

Strike gold with aftermarket sales and service.
The aftermarket — including maintenance calls, replacement parts, service contracts, technical support, consulting, repair, future options, and consumable supplies to name a few — represents a broad opportunity for manufacturers. In fact, the global automotive aftermarket had a reported value of $450 billion in 2015 by depending simply on sales to dealers, repair chains, independent shops, and consumers. Additionally, commercial aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) was valued at $63.2 billion in 2016.

Aftermarket activities should be as much a part of your operations as anything that happens leading up to, and including an initial sale. In the aftermarket, you’ve already qualified and acquired a customer, and many manufacturing goods they purchased have lifespans of years. That is a tremendous opportunity to increase ties with consumers and create more value for them. According to IDC, manufacturers that can enhance customer experience can expect to boost aftermarket revenue by 20 percent.

Re-engage customers with valuable aftermarket interactions.
Customers expect rich and powerful digital experiences. We live in a digital age in which you can place an order on a desktop computer and track the status on your mobile device. We’re accustomed to using a phone app to request a ride and pay for it, all with a single tap. The experience is fluid and continuous.

In manufacturing, customers expect the same type of experience and convenience, which means that managing the customer relationship and offering a seamless digital experience are critical to aftermarket sales. Meeting customers’ expectations doesn’t always require the intervention of a salesperson, or time with a customer service representative. Many interactions, particularly about aftermarket concerns, are transactional in nature. Someone may need to order a replacement part, set up a service call, purchase supplies, or consult a manual or diagram, all of which can be done online.

The B2C experience has taught people that transactions should be easy, feature robust services and choices through any number of digital devices, and embody strong self-service options. The better the digital experience you provide B2B customers, the stronger the relationships you will build with them. You will also benefit from a lower cost of doing business, fewer barriers to additional revenue, and increased profitability.

Such success is seen at DuPont. The company’s Crop Protection Division needed a way for its global sales team of 10,000 representatives to reach millions of farmers in 130 countries. They regularly needed to share highly technical product information about crops, pests, and regulations in each region. DuPont transformed its strategy with a digital platform flexible enough to adapt across diverse product lines and hundreds of markets. The adoption resulted in $1 million in global savings and a 50 percent reduction in go-to-market time.

Realize aftermarket profits with digital capabilities.
Here are a few examples of how you can apply digital experiences to aftermarket activities within your business.

Replacement parts. Instead of saddling customers with a weighty catalog and the need to parse SKUs to identify the right item, use a digital catalog that allows an individual to sign in. The system notes which machinery the person’s employer — your customer — owns, and it tracks the specific model number and, therefore, the correct part numbers. The person can call up machine diagrams and photographs, gets pointed to the right parts, and the system fills in the proper information.

Warranty work. If a product needs repair, logging in to that same portal allows the person logging the problem to identify the item and check the current warranty status. Now the user can schedule a day and time for a technical call or print out a shipping label if the item is small and can be sent to a repair center. Further status information is also available at any time.

Technical support and customer service. Many support issues can be solved by someone with access to the proper information. All the relevant technical notes, schematics, repair manuals, tutorials, FAQ lists, and even video training can be available to anyone authorized at the customer site. The more people who can address their own needs, the more your technical staff can focus on more difficult and valuable issues. Although, if an issue’s solution goes beyond retrieving information, you could allow the customer to reach support personnel through an online chat or other type of direct connection.

Similarly, checking and correcting information, reviewing purchase histories, bringing up copies of contracts, and other activities that would have required human intervention can be put at a customer’s fingertips — readily available online. More complex needs could be solved through direct access to someone in customer service.

Find success with aftermarket digital experiences.
Creating the B2C experiences your customers crave in aftermarket activities requires the right digital foundation. At a minimum, you need digital asset management (DAM) to track the assets that provide information as well as a content management system ( CMS) to control the display of assets online and personalize user interaction. Using a brand portal to give customers access to the right information when they need it will satisfy many aftermarket needs.

While information alone might be enough for some aftermarket self-service support, anything more complicated will likely need to incorporate interactions with customer histories, schedules, pricing, e-commerce, and other parts of an enterprise infrastructure. Integration with customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and related applications can give aftermarket digital experiences the depth customers ultimately want. Add analytics, and you can begin to better understand how customers use your system, and ultimately predict what they’ll want, even before they know.

Given the significant revenue and profit potential of your aftermarket, enhancing customer experiences can improve relationships while driving impressive ROI. No matter where you are now, it’s possible to begin bringing your aftermarket into the modern age and grow your capabilities over time.

Read more in our series on creating Digital Experiences for Manufacturing or learn about Adobe’s solutions here.

Topics: Content Management, Manufacturing