Managing the new industrial customer experience (ICX) should be a cornerstone of every industrial company’s digital transformation program. Why are industrial equipment companies are embracing new business models built on much closer customer relationships? Because they know it will be key to their continued success. Having become accustomed to rapid technology evolution and adoption in their personal lives, their customers now expect more. They expect the products to be smart and connected, but they may also demand customization as well as a sophisticated understanding of the machine's operating ecosystem and conditions. By supporting a dynamic, innovative, and mutually beneficial coalition with each customer, the supplier can provide a business outcome-driven differentiator to guide internal programs, projects, and allocations.
Optimize the ICX
It is now critically important to optimize the experience of your customers - in their interactions with your company, its supportive ecosystem, and your products and services. The emerging industrial customer experience is based on shared responsibilities for designing, operating, and maintaining products, shared data, and innovative business practices. The goal is to create a robust, ongoing relationship with each customer. In practice, building this relationship often means executing a series of quick turnaround collaborations in which the supplier works closely with its customer to introduce a new product to meet a developing market opportunity.
Where possible, cultivating a supplier-customer relationship that is marked by cooperation and mutual gains, rather than a series of transactions, has many benefits. Achieving this with the bulk of your customers, however, is no small undertaking, and is likely to involve changes impacting people, processes, and systems within your company and externally.
Connected Things Raises Expectations
The expectation of connectedness profoundly changes the dynamics of product transactions between manufacturers and customers. A trend toward ongoing relationships and more services, instead of a series of one-and-done sales deals, is discernable. Today’s industrial customers expect a digital, customized, and highly servitized experience when dealing with their equipment suppliers. In some cases, this manifests itself as a subscription to the product or its output, but more commonly it may mean the supplier provides, or at minimum provides the means for, live monitoring, diagnostics, and predictive alerts about machine performance and possible failures.
With connectedness, it's not enough to deliver the product itself; industrial equipment companies must support their customers by designing the complex sophisticated machines while modeling or designing the associated ecosystem, data, maintenance, and industrial customer experience (ICX) requirements. In doing so, they must involve all the necessary disciplines, departments, and stakeholders – including customers – during each phase of the product and service lifecycle.
To accomplish this, high-performing industrial equipment companies collaborate broadly, and knit together their customers and partners. They utilize a modern engineering and data management system that supports virtual, model-driven design and multi-discipline collaboration based on common data.
Adopt a Customer Coalition Model
Industrial equipment companies need to work closely with their customers throughout the product lifecycle. They need to engage them early on, and provide tools for the customer to participate in designing their interactions with the product in its modeled environment. They also need to support their customers with real-time monitoring and diagnostic services during the operating phase.
Instead of engaging the customer in a journey with touchpoints along the way, the emerging model welcomes the customer into a supportive coalition that provides for nearly every need - from conceptualizing innovative product ideas, interactions, and ecosystems, to realizing them and the environments they were designed for, to the adaptations and services needed throughout the whole lifecycle.
The new industrial customer experience (ICX) requires supporting a dynamic, innovative, and mutually beneficial coalition with each customer, but in return it provides a business outcome-driven differentiator to guide internal programs, projects, and allocations. It is not sufficient to initiate digital transformation programs based solely on the contemporary emergence of potentially disruptive technologies. Nor is it enough to focus on changes to business processes and norms driven by that technology – without programs designed to enhance the customer experience. Industrial equipment companies must embrace digitalization as a means to nurture their relation-ships with customers.