A leading customer experience consultant from the UK, Gerry McGovern, recently published an article titled, Your Digital Interface Is Your Brand. While Mr. McGovern typically focuses on more service-oriented institutions and businesses, the message is a definite reality for manufacturers.
Think about how the average customer interacts with a manufacturing company. Whether that customer is a dealer, a machine owner, a technician who is working to repair equipment…it’s very likely that whatever that person’s role, their first contact when seeking help or information will be in the form of a website visit.
Ten years ago, this certainly wasn’t the case, especially for manufacturers of heavy and industrial equipment. Their sales models generally involve a dealer network, and customers were trained to contact the dealer first with any needs, problems or support questions.
In this scenario, the dealer becomes the literal face of the manufacturer. And in the past, the dealer was the closest and most effective representative of the factory and the products it made.
Nowadays, rather than the local dealer being viewed as the closest extension of the manufacturer’s brand, customers see an OEM’s website as shouldering a larger share of the responsibility for brand loyalty.
As McGovern puts it, “Our impressions and experiences of brands today are increasingly digital.”
He goes on, “When I think about my bank today I don’t think about its physical buildings or its people. I think about the hassle I constantly have with Java every time I visit its site, how the navigation is not simple enough, and how if I have to ring support I can be waiting 10-15 minutes for someone to answer….”
Is this how your industrial buyers, dealers and equipment owners think about your website? Do you make it easy for current and future customers to access your site? Can they easily find what they need? What percentage of visitors can achieve their goals without picking up the phone? Are you putting an internal business unit’s needs ahead of the customers’?
If you can’t positively answer these questions, you haven’t given your online presence enough credit for the massive influence it has on branding, customer engagement and the future of your business.