In most manufacturing companies, a large portion of business is generated from resellers, distributors and dealers. Manufacturers sell to the distributors who in turn, sell to their end customers. In certain industries, distributors sell to dealers who sell to end customers. Although some CRM and ERP software have the ability to capture end customer information, there are a number of challenges to overcome in this area. Even when this data is captured, the question still remains how to turn this into valuable and usable information. We believe end customer information is critical in achieving the Customer 360 Degree Vision.
End customer information can be difficult to acquire because distributors lack the incentive to provide it to manufacturers. Even when distributors provide this data, it is challenging to uniquely identify end customers when multiple distributors are in business with the same end customer. Data quality is typically poor, often incomplete with misspelled names and differing address formats. Manufacturer systems are typically geared towards order fulfillment, therefore capturing end customer information is not a necessity or priority. The self-service capabilities provided by the manufacturer either do not allow capturing end customer information or offer it is an optional feature.
Companies in different industries acquire end customer information by various methods including the following:
• In the HVAC industry, distributors make claims against marketing promotions launched by manufacturers, where they are required to provide end customer (dealer) information
• In the semiconductor industry, distributors provide POS (Point of Sale) information, which potentially includes end customer information
• The traditional warranty and product registration forms fulfilled by end customers (entered mostly online these days) offers limited information
• In High-Tech industry, software and patch download is another way to stay close and provide value to end customers
• Periodic surveys distributed to end customers measures distributors’/retailers’ performance and acquires end customer information
• Providing distributor access to opportunity/lead registration systems and initiatives enables collaborative selling using manufacturer systems
• Drop-Ship orders include the accurate name and address of the end customer
• Data mining from social media sites like Facebook, Linkedin Google+ and others
The benefits reaped by some of the companies who have been able to capture and cleanse end customer information are:
• Classify and group customers to provide differentiated levels of sales and service, facilitating the opportunity for more lucrative relationships (to be discussed further in future article)
• Provide more productive and efficient customer service with customer information readily accessible
• Acquire better feedback on products and services performance through surveys, Voice of Customer (VOC), and social media, allowing companies to more quickly react to trends in social media.
• Targeted campaigns to end customers for upgrade sales opportunities
• Offer extended warranties to end customers whose warranties have expired
• Beyond tactical advantages, greater intimacy allows better strategic alignment with end customers
Many companies are coming closer to their Customer 360 Degree Vision, but still have a long way to go. Capturing, cleansing, and correctly identifying a unique customer record is a difficult task but worth the effort if companies can put the information to good use.
I encourage you to share feedback on your successes and/or failures associated with these initiatives.
Director – Accrete Solutions
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel – 877-849-5838