Manufacturing Tomorrow


How to Improve the Four Steps of the Customers’ Life Cycle

Feb 19, 2019
By: Mark Stevens, Ryan Swiderski

To be successful, today’s manufacturers need to optimize every aspect of the customer life cycle. While CRM systems were traditionally built to manage the sales pipeline, technology enhancements mean the same tools can be extended to production, supply chain and after-the-sale support.

Your customer experience is an ongoing process that needs to be nurtured at every stage. A CRM better connects teams across your organization to ensure that customers are receiving superior, informed service — turning your prospects into repeat customers and brand evangelists.

Here’s how you can use a CRM such as Wipfli Connect for Manufacturing to enhance the customer life cycle across sales, production, delivery and after-sale service.

Make Timely Sales

Marketing and sales are a core function of any CRM product. Businesses can create customer profiles, track leads and automate tasks to ensure timely sales actions that move prospects forward.

But beyond the initial sale, customers present an ongoing opportunity. With CRM data, sales teams have visibility into product usage and service history. This gives your sales reps the information they need to personalize communication, cross-sell, up-sell and strengthen customer relationships.

What’s more, when your CRM is used as an asset management tool with remote monitoring, your sales team can be even more effective. With real-time usage data, sales reps can offer customers an upgrade before your component fails or becomes a point of inefficiency for your customer.

Streamline Production

In production, your CRM can become a collaboration platform, sharing information from sales through to engineering and manufacturing. You’re taking the knowledge gained during the sales process and sharing that information downstream with everyone who needs to deliver on the promises that were made.

Here, too, your CRM can be used to manage change orders and streamline workflow. Alert and queuing capabilities make sure change orders are approved and any impacts to the business (e.g., budget, timeline and materials) are handled efficiently. What once happened via forms and emails can now be tracked in one system that creates open visibility and automatically triggers an alert when a task needs attention.

A CRM can offer document management efficiencies as well, housing critical customer documents “in context.” Whether it’s access to a quote or engineering drawings, your team has the information they need, right at their fingertips, instead of navigating a separate file system to hunt down pertinent materials.

Enhance Delivery

At this stage, your CRM can help capture supply chain intelligence. Get useful information for inventory management, order processing, warehousing and distribution.

Your CRM can be as sophisticated as you need it to be. For example, Wipfli Connect for Manufacturing also lets you establish collaborative or self-service portals to strengthen communications with dealer networks and distribution channels.

Make Service After the Sale More Effective

After-sale service can be as important to a manufacturing organization as closing a new deal. A CRM like Wipfli Connect for Manufacturing lets you track service and warranty activity no matter how complex the products, parts or service promises.

With mobile data accessibility, your field technicians are more informed about past customer service issues and solutions. That enhances their ability to provide service in the moment and meet customer expectations.

If your customer talked to someone on the phone about what’s going on with their equipment, they expect the field technician is going to show up already informed of the issue. What’s more, customers want field technicians to know when there’s been a history of service issues on a machine, so they can be more efficient in troubleshooting and repair. None of that happens without the right technology.

And, increasingly, manufacturers are building equipment with remote monitoring capabilities to track usage, wear-and-tear, trouble alerts and more. From a service perspective, this allows manufacturers to assist the customer with proactive, timely maintenance (and sales) before equipment reaches the failure point. Engineers, too, can tap this data for new product development and efficiency improvements.

The more you know about the performance and age of the equipment you’ve sold, the easier it is for you to provide predictive maintenance and, ultimately, reduce customer turnover. Prompt, knowledgeable service can also be the linchpin that drives more sales — and it’s a CRM that makes this possible.

From Silos to Service

Some manufacturers are still using siloed Excel spreadsheets to track customer information across different departments and stages of the customer life cycle. But to provide superior service, manufacturers need to integrate this information so that each member of the team can build on each other’s knowledge.

Wipfli Connect for Manufacturing links customer information, service contracts, product warranties and sales records to centrally manage customer interactions and put that information in the hands of those who need it, when they need it.

Wipfli Connect for Manufacturing is built on Microsoft Dynamics 365. To learn more about how manufacturers can use this solution to enhance the customer life cycle, contact us about our free, on-demand workshop “Dynamics 365 in Manufacturing.”


Mark Stevens
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Ryan Swiderski
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 Wipfli Connect for Manufacturing