Reimagining the Customer Experience for Manufacturers

By Matt Van Dyke | January 27, 2023

reimagining the customer experience software solutions

If your company uses a Microsoft cloud-based MRP program, Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement is a solution you should be looking to use to help produce the most effective customer experience.

Dynamics 365 CE seamlessly integrates and works with Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations and Dynamics 365 Business Central. This combination helps you create a great experience for your users and most importantly, your customers.

Why the Customer Experience is Vital to Your Business

Before discussing integrating Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement with your MRP system, let’s define the customer experience and discuss why it’s important.

What is a Customer Experience?

Customer Experience is the overall perception and sentiment a customer has of your company or brand based on cumulative interactions. Depending on the actions you take, a customer’s experience will be positive or negative.

What is Customer Engagement?

Customer Engagement includes the actions and strategies you take to interact with your customers or how your customers interact with you. This could include paying an invoice and receiving a confirmation email, browsing your website, getting technical support, reading your newsletter, or having a service technician come into your customer's business.

How Digital Transformation Can Help You Provide a Great Customer Experience

The third and final part you need to understand about the customer experience is Digital Transformation. It is the process of using digital technologies to create new – or modify existing – business processes, culture, and customer experience to meet changing business and market requirements.

Your customer expects an easy, intelligent, and information-packed experience when they do business with you. If you can provide this, your customer will have a great experience and become your advocate.

How Covid-19 Sparked Technological Advancements in Manufacturing

The pandemic had significant impacts on the manufacturing industry. Amid lockdowns and supply chain issues, many companies had to change the way they do business and shift towards an online method powered by software solutions and technology.

Reimagining the customer experience facts

Reference: Harvard Business Review (HBR) "The Future of Customer Experience in Manufacturing"

Reimagining the customer experience facts 2

Reference: Liferay and IDC "Why Customer Centricity is Essential to Manufacturers

Customers expect more interactive and personalized interactions. They want the comfort of knowing when their products will arrive and who they are dealing with. While the pandemic may have spurred this on by forcing companies to adapt technologically, it is also the catalyst for a new customer-focused way of doing business.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Solutions Can Help You Improve Your Customer Experience

Combining Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement with your ERP system and the Power Platform allows you to connect your business apps to streamline every aspect of your business.

There are two main ways we can accomplish this:

1 - Connected Business Applications

Reimagining the customer experience connected apps

Combining Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement with your ERP system and the Power Platform allows you to connect your business apps to streamline every aspect of your business.

Take a moment to think about how everything flows through your system and whether or not it is optimal. Utilizing these tools lets you automate many of these processes to speed up workflows and take the burden of tedious manual work off your staff.

For example:

  • A customer orders something from your website. You can set up your Customer Engagement system to automatically generate a sales quotation and put it directly into your CRM system
  • You can then set up an automation that pushes the sales quote to your Order and Invoicing system
  • From there the product gets shipped out and you can automate communications with your customer such as order/shipping notifications and updates

A customer waiting to receive their product not only wants to receive updates about the status of their order but also expects you to provide them on a regular basis.

There are countless examples of how you can combine these systems and automate their processes. A bonus is by using these tools, all of the information collected during the customer experience will flow back into your CRM system and can be used for future interactions.

2 - Utilizing the Power Platform

reimagining the customer experience power platform

The Microsoft Power Platform is one of the fastest-growing extensibility tools out there, and for a good reason. In the digital transformation age, emails, chats with virtual support agents, social media, and SMS text messaging are becoming the main ways of interaction.

The Power Platform – and its features such as Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents – integrate with your current ERP systems and extend usability by helping you create apps, generate visually appealing reports based on data sets, automate business processes like sales insights and customer service, and much more.

Making the Move from Forms to Data

Gone are the days of asking a customer to fill out a form with their information and having to then manually input that into your system. With these Microsoft tools, you can automate data entry and log customer information to equip your sales, support, and maintenance teams with the information they need to do their jobs efficiently.

For example, if your sales rep is about to go into a meeting, they can open their phone and look at the customer’s CRM profile and obtain information that will help them make a sale such as a list of products the customer has bought in the past or requests they have made. They can then enter sales quotes into your system from their phone. If everything goes smoothly, the customer might get an order confirmation while the sales rep is still with them.

Similarly, your maintenance team can view a customer profile and see what products need to be fixed or potentially replaced when they go into the field to do a site visit or respond to a repair request. This way they can advise the customer on the next steps before they even begin to fix the issue.

These, and many more examples seen below, create memorable and positive customer experiences.

Reimagining the customer experience forms to data

Other Features You Can Use

This blog is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how these solutions can help you create great customer experiences.

Some additional tools you can use include:

  • Intelligent Ordering – A newer Dataverse application that allows you to streamline and automate your orders, returns, inventory, logistics, production, and more into one system
  • Omnichannel – A customer service platform that connects customers seeking support to the resources (chatbot, knowledge base article, support agent) needed to resolve their issues
    • Omnichannel also provides easy integration into other web systems, meaning your customer service agents can look into your inventory or ordering systems while they are chatting with the customer live
  • Portals – Portals give your customers a home base where they can find out information on their order history, access support, and browse products
  • Customizing process based on prior history – Your CRM and ERP systems used to be separated but that’s not the case anymore. Building integrations to connect these systems will help you automate processes, combine data streams, and keep your staff in the know about their customers

Track Your Results

Implementing all of this is one thing, but it’s important to make sure you are always improving. Your customers are your priority and keeping them happy should be top of mind. Some of the ways you can track your results and identify areas of improvement include:

  • Seeking feedback
  • Analyzing churn and interactions
  • Analyzing support ticket trends
  • Considering a Customer Data Platform like Customer Insights
  • Monitor and react to social media feedback

Contact Stoneridge Software to Learn More!

Stoneridge has a passionate team of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement specialists ready to help you provide the best support for your customers.

Please reach out to us to learn more.

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