- Industry Trends
Manufacturers of machines, systems, and equipment are facing a wide range of challenges: Business models are changing permanently due to digitalization. Products are becoming increasingly comparable and competitive pressure is rising. B2B customers are transferring their experiences of service, efficiency, and customer experience from their private lives to their professional environment. As a result, the demands on service performance are increasing. In addition, there is pressure to reduce costs while providing a higher quality of service.
How can companies respond to these challenges? By focusing on a comprehensive service strategy with excellent service. A B2B customer portal with self-service functions as part of the digital spare parts catalog or service information system is a key component of this strategy.
Business is done between people. This principle still holds true - even in the digital age. That's why a digital customer portal should by no means replace professionally competent customer service staff, but rather complement them sustainably. The digital self-service portal must be part of a comprehensive strategy that focuses on the customer. It serves as a central interface between the company and the customer, providing all relevant customer, order, spare parts, and product data at a glance.
B2B customers have long been accustomed to the ability to independently manage their contracts and subscriptions, order products online, download invoices, and view order and delivery status information in many areas of their private lives. This expectation carries over into the workplace and intensifies over time as more and more digital natives enter the workforce with high digital literacy and even higher expectations.
To avoid losing your customers to the competition, you should meet this expectation. But there are more reasons to implement a digital portal for spare parts and after-sales services:
Your customers can use the service portal to independently obtain information about your products, view technical documentation, take advantage of training offers, or reorder wear parts - all using the device of their choice and at any time. They are not bound by business hours and do not have to wait for a response from your service team.
When your customers are able to perform routine tasks and queries on their own, your service and support staff have more time for more complex tasks. They are consulted for more complicated issues, can score points with excellent advice and problem-solving skills, and thus increase the quality of your service. All this has a positive effect on the satisfaction and also the loyalty of your customers.
Communicating with prospects and customers generates costs. From the acquisition phase and quotation preparation to invoicing and after-sales service, there are numerous routine activities that cost time and are prone to errors. With a digital customer portal, your customers can access information and documents when they need them. This speeds up your processes, reduces the error rate and relieves your employees.
In the sales area, this means that if your employees no longer have to deal with routine activities, they have more time for the essentials. Your sales staff become impulse and idea generators. They take on the role of competent advisors who can be called upon for valuable discussions and more complex questions.
The first order from a new customer may not be the most lucrative. But if you keep your new customer happy in the long term by providing good service, you have a great chance of generating further, profitable revenue over the course of the customer relationship with additional services (e.g. maintenance contracts) or the sale of spare or wear parts. Your digital service portal is the ideal place to display personalized offers to your customers for suitable additional sales or to identify and exploit cross-selling and upselling potential.
You can also rely on anticipatory service and offer your customers the right products (e.g. wear parts) based on their order history, so that no machine downtime or stock shortages occur in the first place. Increase the satisfaction of your customers by responding to their individual and customized needs!
Nowadays, machines, plants and equipment are no longer just bought, rented, or leased. Selling the output, for example, is considered an innovative business model. For instance, it is no longer a complete air compressor that is sold, but compressed air that is paid for by quantity. These so-called product-as-a-service or pay-per-use models enable a completely new market entry.
In order to evaluate which new business model might be suitable for you, it is worth analyzing the data collected via the digital customer portal on the use of products and services and on the individual needs of customers. Your service portal thus becomes an important platform for evaluating, developing, and offering new, personalized business models.