In manufacturing, customer experience is here to stay. So what role does technology play? And are you ready?

Manufacturing businesses are product-centric businesses. It makes sense, then, that manufacturers have long invested in people, processes and technology to deliver the best product just in time and at the lowest cost.  

But the world has changed, and so has manufacturing.  

While products will always be central, we’re increasingly hearing a theme from manufacturing business leaders who are anxious to get it right: “we need to improve the customer experience”. 

We’re increasingly hearing a theme from manufacturing business leaders who are anxious to get it right: “we need to improve the customer experience”. 

This theme is driven by several factors, such as the changing demographic in the workforce, global competition, advances in technology and different customer expectations about how, when and where they interact with the products they buy. But a focus on customer experience in manufacturing is more than just a trend; it is an economic imperative. It is the manufacturers which get their customer experience right that will be strong performers over many years ahead.  

So what does an optimal customer experience in manufacturing even look like? And what role does technology play in bringing it to life? 

An optimal customer experience in manufacturing

When we talk about customer experience, we need to think about every interaction a customer has with your business. It spans the entire cycle from awareness through to using and servicing the product they purchase. For a manufacturer, there is additional complexity, due to customer experience being partly delivered by at least one, and often many, channel partners. Even the truck driver plays a role! 

A good customer experience is a smooth customer experience. It removes all the barriers and minimises errors across the entire process. It delivers what the customer wants, when they want it and how they want it. Minimal product defects, sure. But also in quoting, availability and accuracy of product information. The purchase process itself also needs to be straight-forward and reliable. And if there are problems with the product, warranties and returns need to be simple, regardless of who your customer is dealing with.


customer experience in manufacturing includes everyone in your value chain When it comes to customer experience, everyone in your value chain is involved, including your channel partners.

So what does it take?

We all know what good customer experience looks like when we see it. But it doesn’t happen on its own. Behind the scenes of a great customer experience is a business that has created the right mix of people, processes, and technology.   

When it comes to technology, we believe there are four key considerations for manufacturers to get right: 

  • Customer 360 platform 
  • Integration 
  • Data and 
  • Process workflows and automation. 

 Let’s explore each of these in turn.  

1. Establishing a Customer 360 platform

It’s hard to deliver great customer experience when different parts of your business have different – and sometimes conflicting – data about your customers. Likewise, your customers expect that, regardless of who they are dealing with in your organisation, their history and experience as your customer is known.  

“Customer 360” refers to a 360-degree view of a customer’s data including all prior interactions they have had with your business. Salesforce’s Customer 360 platform is engineered to ensure that all teams in your business have access to one single view of a customer. It does not matter if your people are in marketing, sales, service, technology or management. It should not even matter if they are a supplier, distributor or transport provider. 

Everyone who engages with your customer in the delivery of products and service at any part of your value chain should be working together. The Customer 360 delivers a “single source of truth” for customer data across them all.  

2. Removing silos and increasing connectivity through integration

If your business wants to improve the customer experience, then system integration should be high on your agenda. Every manufacturer has a range of systems that power distinct parts of their business. Those systems are typically fit-for-purpose and perform a solid job. However, they often inadvertently reinforce silos between users and non-users. Data within one system is difficult to access or share with others. This typically results in your people wasting valuable time trying to track down information relevant to their job. A backlog of tasks ensues, resulting in high pressure and quite often, mistakes.  

Some examples of how integration could improve the customer experience include:  

  • A sales rep creates a quote for a customer in Salesforce and an invoice is sent to the customer by your ERP.
  • You receive a customer order in Salesforce. The system managing your production facility knows immediately and puts it in the production queue.  
  • Your production lines talk to Salesforce so Customer Service understands the order status. 

 Effective integration starts with a thorough, unbiased system review, upon which an integration strategy is built. The strategy should consider what could be integrated and why.  

Integration is challenging, complex and technical. But it is an important foundation for an optimal customer experience.  

3. Put your data to work

Many businesses would be considered as data rich, but information poor. If you aren’t currently putting your data to good use by extracting and analysing insights, then you’re missing an opportunity to create competitive advantage.  

When used in the right way, data turns into information, information turns into knowledge and knowledge turns into business decisions. Are you putting your data to effective use? After all, “you can’t improve what you don’t measure”, as management guru Peter Drucker once said.

4. Make light work with process flows and automation

Many manufacturing businesses would be familiar with automation on the factory floor through robotics, RFID tags and the like. But unless you have applied automation to other parts of your business operations, there are still opportunities to create efficiencies. 

Any part of your manufacturing business and its processes is ripe for automation. Think about how many human touch points you have when a customer applies for an increased credit limit. These processes can be easily automated by simulating tasks performed by human.  

For example, manufacturing business Polymaster is using an automated quoting process to streamline sales and reduce their dependency on technical staff to make a sale.


Manufacturing business using automation and analytics on the factory floor Manufacturers have embraced automation on the factory floor. But where else could automation deliver benefits across your operations?

So what?

Customer experience is here to stay. Manufacturers are increasingly putting customer experience at the forefront of their strategy. Technology available today enables customer-centricity and promotes deeper, more dynamic connections across key stakeholders, including channel partners, suppliers, contractors, employees and, of course, customers. 

Carnac Group is exhibiting at stand K32 at the Modern Manufacturing Expo on 20-21 September 2022 at the Sydney Showground – and registration is free. If you’d like to discuss how technology can deliver on your customer experience ambitions, get in touch and we’ll schedule a time to meet.   


Carnac Group is exhibiting at the Modern Manufacturing ExpoCome and visit the Carnac Group stand at the Modern Manufacturing Expo on 20-21 September 2022.