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Why CRM is the key to collaboration for manufacturing firms

May 12, 2020By

In the second half of this two-part series on digital transformation in manufacturing, Anandhi is back to explain why sales, marketing and customer service should be central in every manufacturer’s transformation strategy.

Salesforce empowers sales, service and marketing departments in manufacturing firms to effectively collaborate and manage account relationships

Manufacturers have made key investments in technology over the past two ‘industrial revolutions’, primarily in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain optimization solutions. In recent years, advanced manufacturers have also begun digitizing standard operating procedures in quality systems to drive adherence to international standards. Some have even sought to drive automation by implementing IoT (internet of things), hoping to create a connected factory and reduce the number of operators.

However, even many manufacturers that have advanced far down their digital transformation journey have placed little emphasis on digitizing their service, sales and marketing departments. Without a shared, connected platform, these teams often rely on tribal knowledge and overly-complex processes. Ultimately, that will limit their ability to collaborate and support the business, especially as they struggle to deal with the challenges in a COVID-19 world.

Where does CRM fit in today’s manufacturing firm?

Manufacturers require a broad a range of IT platforms, from ERP to manufacturing execution systems and product lifecycle management. But, one platform in particular is the key to fostering cross-departmental collaboration: CRM (customer relationship management). If manufacturers want to transform account management activities (managing customers and channel partners), CRM should be integral to their approach.

Account management activities are typically handled by account and channel managers as well as sales, customer service and marketing teams. Each group tends to struggle with their own set of challenges:

  • Customer service teams are often forced to ‘swivel-chair’ between systems to find order and shipment information or provide feedback to product teams and trigger product purges in warehouses.
  • Account management and sales teams typically look to tighten their relationships with supply chain and operations personnel to ensure the right product is made to meet market demand.
  • Marketing seeks to find the end user, ensuring they have the means to market to and attract customers whether they are selling via channel or not.

COVID-19 has exacerbated these challenges, while creating new ones:

  • Many companies are shifting production to produce COVID-19 related products.
  • Manufacturers involved in health networks are facing an unprecedented spike in demand.
  • Many firms are suffering from losses and have excess inventory in their books.

Whether or not they are co-located in the same building, departments are struggling to collaborate and share the right information at the right time. This is where CRM platforms like Salesforce can help teams to work remotely and better support the business by facilitating cross-departmental collaboration.

10 Salesforce use cases to empower sales, service, marketing, and account management teams

  • Account management & customer service:Allow your end-users to leverage Salesforce as a central hub. View or initiate orders, or quickly notify customers about a change in the status of an order.
  • Customer service:Enable your partners and customers to manage their own orders through a self-service community. Community Cloud can expose order status, allowing customers to track orders.
  • All teams: Measure revenue realization against new products directly within Manufacturing Cloud. Firms that need to pivot their production to manufacture new COVID-19 related products will have the tools they need to ensure they are measuring their success.
  • Customer service: Service Cloud and Field Service Lightning enable your customer service reps to rapidly identify the best service partner for any service call. Ensure that dispatchers select partners according to proximity and skill set.
  • Account management: Guide your customers to the dealers and resellers that match their needs best. Filter out poor choices by sorting by attributes like business address and products offered.
  • Sales & customer service: Create contractual agreements for service and/or installation providers directly within Salesforce. Leverage automations to easily evaluate claims against existing contracts.
  • Sales & account management: Reduce time spent maintaining your ERP data through robust integrations with Salesforce. Enable sales reps and account managers to send literature or distribute free goods without the need to engage with back-end systems.
  • Customer service: Enable remote service management by digitally authorizing customer returns.
  • Marketing: Orchestrate campaigns, promotions and deals within Salesforce. Support online purchasing by syndicating to websites and e-commerce solutions.
  • All teams: Keep your workers safe. Track your inventory of PPE at each manufacturing location to ensure there is always adequate supply (take a look at the Traction Thrive Critical Care Resource Management application to see how hospitals and care facilities are managing PPE).

Uniting departments around customer data

Every manufacturing company is comprised of a group of physical locations, whether they came together through organic growth or mergers and acquisitions. These locations are often isolated from each other, with teams working independently within a plant, each of which may have their own unique processes. Over the years, firms have tended to focus their digital transformation efforts on ERP while customer and account relationship management became an afterthought.

After COVID-19, collaboration between departments is more important than ever before. CRM platforms like Salesforce should no longer be viewed as a luxury, but rather as a foundational platform. To truly orchestrate networks of disparate facilities and departments, firms need to bring their teams together behind a united customer view that can be accessed and updated anywhere.

If your manufacturing firm is looking to drive collaboration across departments, or you want to discuss your unique Salesforce use cases, reach out to us below.

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