A wind of change is blowing through the factories and design centers of the world. Intensified customer expectations, forged in the age of Twitter, Facebook and Uber have changed the game beyond all recognition. Accustomed to fast, digitized services, consumers today demand 24/7 support and expect their voices to be heard. To them, “usage” of a convenient, reliable, customer-focused service is more important than “ownership” of a product.
This consumer shift is impacting the way things are bought and sold in B2B markets as well. In this new world, manufacturers have identified the opportunity to provide services rather than products, a concept referred to as ‘Servitization.’ They know they can no longer compete on price alone and must find ways to provide added value to their customers.
To better understand what’s driving this shift in consumer behavior, let’s consider three global trends: changing customer expectations, technology and environmental concerns.
Changing customer expectations
Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are believed to prefer easy, accessible, fast and flexible services over owning something. Why bother owning a car when you can use an app to get a ride wherever you want to go? Millennials are used to being consulted in the co-design of products and services, and they expect their feedback to be included in future iterations. They won’t tolerate an inferior product when they can easily find a better alternative.
As a result, companies must make customer-centricity their new mantra. We see how important this is at DLL and regularly send our ‘back office’ staff out with our sales teams to meet customers. Understanding the customers’ needs completely transforms the way they design and deliver services. The smart companies are the ones that are out there talking to their customers, seeking feedback and delivering 24/7 support. They operate seamlessly across all customer touchpoints, leveraging the right ones at the right time. As explained in a recent Deloitte report, the new generation of customers, operating in a world of social media and social networking, “are not merely a ‘consumer’ of services; they are an active voice in shaping at every step in the value chain.” This is why we are developing new methods to help our partners, suppliers and dealers address these challenges.