First the good news – as Industrial OEMs, you have an unfair advantage compared to most other businesses because you have long-lived products that create recurring interactions for years if not decades with your customers. And each of these interactions not only creates an opportunity to proactively or reactively impact your relationship with the customer but also generates data that can be harnessed for its digital power. In the context of the COVID19 pandemic & its economical fallout, you will survive & return to normal sometime down the line. The same cannot be said about other industries, specifically startups, which will struggle to get back to normal or perish in the coming few months.
And the not-so-good news – most OEMs can’t capitalize on this advantage because the complexity of products, size, and diversity of your customer base and applications makes it very hard to develop an engagement plan for every customer. The real problem is that at the most granular level, you really don’t know your customer’s every detail and how your products are being used at their locations. And the root cause of this problem is that the data you need to understand your customer’s behavior is scattered across multiple systems, of various vintages marked with inconsistency and poor data quality. You could get much-needed support from your IT teams to solve this problem but they have their own priorities. Now, all of this was true in the non-COVID world. I can only imagine the challenges you are facing getting to this data during social distancing & remote working as you come to terms with the concept of work-from-home & virtual sales. In the non-COVID world, you could focus only on the top 10-15% of your customers inadvertently letting the rest be picked off by third parties, competitors, or worse, left to fend for themselves. Now, every customer REALLY matters, and the difficulty to get actionable data just got far more daunting now.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way.
What if there was a system that automatically prioritized and planned each engagement with every customer. What if this system made it so simple that this information was at every employee’s fingertips so each employee worked from the same plan for each customer. A system that embedded deep industry and functional knowledge that made it easy to use right away, regardless of function, location, hierarchy, and experience level? A system that could be deployed remotely with minimal IT support. And more importantly, a system that could deliver value in days and weeks…not months or years.
That system exists today. It is called an IBP – Installed Base Platform.
An IBP is a system of intelligence that aggregates, unifies, organizes, and analyzes just the data OEMs need to deliver the best experience to customers. It is a powerful tool, purpose-built for Industrial OEMs – a tool that connects all the systems that you use today from the powerhouse ERP to the lightning-fast CRMs. It brings together all your account, location, contact, equipment, service, parts, and warranty and helps you zoom in from your territory to a single line item installed at a customer location. The IBP is designed to remove any element of unreliability in your data without you having to do any of the heavy lifting.
An IBP is an Industrial OEM’s biggest hope in quickly adapting to the rapidly evolving market landscape in 2020 & the “new normal” that we all find ourselves in.
Adapt to the new normal
Our industry has been averse to change – slow to adopt & slow to adapt. A lot of it has to do with the almost monopolistic hold we’ve had over our customers. Predictable price increases every year, cost reductions, slow new product introductions, and focus on “new sales” over “existing customer engagement” were acceptable. But all of what we considered ‘normal’ is being questioned every single day as the extent of disruption becomes apparent along with a dreaded sense of what’s next to come. What do you think our customer’s priorities will be as we cross the COVID19 peak? Will they want to invest more of the same or think outside the box? Will they trust those who were with them or those who weren’t around to help?
The one thing we can learn from historical cataclysmic events is that they cause everyone to reevaluate their approaches, decisions & values they hold dear. It’s time that our industry starts to focus on customers, the humans behind all the business transactions. It’s time to make our industry customer-first – that’s the only way we will thrive in & post-2020.