Leveraging market pressures to your advantage
If you’re like one of our many clients in the building materials, manufacturing or distribution industry, you’re probably aware that despite the lack of an official declaration, we might already be in a recession. You can see the signs and feel the pressures, from supply chain disruption and rising interest rates to fluctuations in the Housing Market and Purchasing Manager indices. The question now is, how will you respond? Will you retreat, play it safe, and hunker down? Or will you recognize the opportunity to make your business more competitive?
Here’s the thing — in a recession, sales may slow, but market share can still increase. This may not be about growing the pie, but it can definitely be about claiming a larger slice. Even if the pie shrinks, you can secure more for your business. How? By taking bold action and seizing this time to improve your business in ways that competitors aren’t.
For years, we’ve seen customer expectations shaped by companies like Amazon and Uber at the forefront of digital innovation. Your business can provide the same level of convenience, service, and efficiency, but most companies in these sectors are still behind the digital experience curve. This is a golden opportunity to get ahead of competitors who are still hesitant about transitioning to the digital world.
Leaders who embrace digital transformation can successfully make that leap and increase their share of the pie. Let’s explore some themes common to our clients for how you can use a platform like Salesforce to emerge on the other side of the recession with a stronger position and a more compelling customer experience.
Theme 1: Make It Easier for Customers to Do Business With You
Becoming easier to do business with is key. This means making information readily available without needing a phone call or an email. It also means building platforms that work equally well on a mobile device as on a computer because that’s where your customers spend their time. Building these systems will also feed you critical data insights to improve your sales, marketing, and service strategy.
Let Customer Communicate in their Preferred Medium
If you’re like most of our clients, you still limit yourself to email and phone to connect with customers. But your customers are constantly on the go (and they’ve gotten used to convenient apps and experiences from digital leaders in other spaces), making mobile-friendly comms non-negotiable.
Offering multiple communication channels, such as SMS texting, live chat, business messaging, and apps like WhatsApp and Slack, can help you engage with customers how and when they want. Omnichannel might sound buzzwordy, but building a diverse communications system focused on customer needs and preferences will set you apart and keep your customers coming back for more.
Give Customers Self-Service Access to Information
Customers should also be able to self-serve and access important information without resorting to emails or phone calls bouncing between several people to get an answer. Implementing a portal and mobile app through Salesforce and embedding the right data can empower busy contractors and distributors to find answers, get updates, and make requests. An effective portal increases their productivity and satisfaction while reducing your support workload.
Theme 2: Build CSat and Engagement
Embrace Continuous Improvement in Customer Service
Common customer service themes in this industry include: “Where’s my stuff,” “My stuff is broken,” “I got the wrong stuff,” “I didn’t get all my stuff,” or “I don’t want this stuff; please take it back.” Are you efficiently tracking and resolving customers’ problems? How do you gather information to help improve their experience?
If you’re like many of our clients, you still do this via spreadsheets and yellow stickies. Salesforce case management can help simplify and organize tickets and move you beyond Excel. Not only will you accelerate case resolution, but you’ll also gather information on continuous improvement so you know which levers to pull to reduce those problems going forward.
Identifying “dark accounts” — customers who have stopped buying from you — is another opportunity for re-engagement and reactivation. By leveraging platforms like Salesforce, you can automatically engage these customers or former customers with compelling offers and personalized attention from sales reps to turn them back into active customers.
Theme 3: Better Visibility to Take Fast Action
Do you have a clear line of sight to demand in a world where customers may also face pressure from the recession? Some may be growing, while others may be shrinking. Do you have good information to help project this demand? If you’re not forecasting demand customer-by-customer in a run-rate business, Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud and account-based forecasting can help you plan and project demand and capacity.
Managing Credit Risk
And let’s not forget credit risk. In recessionary times, having visibility of customers who are at risk can be vital. You can give your sales teams proactive visibility into receivables status by integrating Salesforce into your ERP. This integration will enable them to identify and engage slow payers and help you operate your business healthier, more reactively, and minimize risk.
What’s Next — Belt Tightening or Action?
Some may argue that a recession is a time to cut spending and tighten the belt. This might be true if the balance sheet isn’t healthy. But if it is healthy, this could be the perfect time to invest and gain a competitive edge. These improvements can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty and help you balance immediate survival needs with longer-term digital transformation goals.
A recession can be a time to retreat or advance. You have a unique opportunity ahead of you, but it’s up to you to decide which path to take. Our advice? Engage with us at the Hunley Group. By implementing these strategies, we’ve already helped clients gain a competitive advantage in the market, and we can help you, too.