For years, the industry has lagged behind other, more customer-centric industries, in digital engagement. Up until 2020, many sales and marketing teams still relied on face-to-face contact and existing business relationships to attract customers and make sales.
The restrictions imposed by the pandemic have forced the global electronics supply chain to accelerate its digital transformation. As a result, the sudden necessity of a digital-first approach caught even seasoned professionals off-guard.
At Supplyframe, our unique experience working with organizations on both the buy and sell side of the global electronics supply chain puts us in a unique position to help organizations bridge the divide between buyers and sellers.
This May, Supplyframe released its Customer Engagement Maturity Model. Tailored specifically to the needs of the electronics components supply chain, our model provides a way for supply chain organizations to benchmark themselves against the industry at large and identify actionable next steps to becoming more intelligent and proactive about customer outreach and engagement.
In Part 1 of this 3 part series, we dive deeper into the first dimension of the model, Digital Engagement.
The Expectant Customer
Driven by digitally native professionals, customer expectations in supply chain have begun to change. Buyers are beginning to expect the same control and convenience they experience when purchasing retail goods in their personal lives.
This means there’s a preference for:
- Enhanced technical content
- A range of self-service opportunities
- Transparency in data collection
- A personalized experience across channels
Addressing these expectations is key for organizations hoping to succeed in the digital era.
Transformed Approach to Digital Customer Engagement
Digital engagement is the linchpin that holds most modern day marketing and sales strategies together. Most simply, digital customer engagement can be described as how an organization manages its customer experiences and interactions online. Those experiences can range from a visit to your website, to a more complex engagement with the materials in your resource section. These interactions increasingly dictate the product a buyer chooses and whether a sale is made.
The first portion of the Maturity Model evaluates the core features of a digital enabled customer engagement strategy.
The Customer Journey category examines how well an organization knows and understands its customers, and prospects.
The internet has fundamentally changed the buying experience. Prospective customers have a wider range of options for identifying potential purchase options, conducting their own research, and discussing solutions.
Successful organizations realize that the path to a purchase isn’t linear. It’s an iterative set of tasks running in parallel. Being able to identify where a potential buyer is in this process is an important part of being able to address their needs.
Organizations at the earliest stages of maturity engage in static customer profiling. Data is siloed, not easily shared across an organization, and encompasses only limited demographic information and purchase history. In other words, the organization is flying blind.
At the most mature level, organizations maintain a dynamic customer profile that connects across the entire design-to-source journey, and is aligned with a customer’s strategic goals. This understanding allows sales teams to interact with insight, while operating in concert with marketing teams.
This category explores how well the content provided matches the needs of buyers who expect high quality, high value information resources on demand.
At the most basic level, organizations provide limited product content across a small digital catalog. While this may contain technical information, it is often lacking in depth and doesn’t provide value-added digital assets or services.
As organizations advance in maturity, the content strategy becomes dynamic and adaptive, based on changing customer priorities, and tailored to the specific needs of each stage of the design-to-source buyer’s journey. Contextual content provides information at the point of need, across audiences (e.g., 3D Models and PCB footprints to engineering audiences, price, availability, supplier, and risk data for sourcing and procurement). Tracking engagement with this content creates a vast intelligence resource that can be used to target sales opportunities with more precision.
Buyers seek out and receive information through different channels before engaging directly with suppliers or distributors. They increasingly expect representatives to be familiar with their history of engagement and build on that experience.
Channel Strategy Maturity is focused on the effectiveness of an organization’s ability to deploy a consistent message and experience on all available sales and marketing channels.
The base level of this segment includes a generic website that pulls its content from a product catalog, but doesn’t go beyond a simple information portal. Moving upward into the higher levels, we see an integrated approach that promotes customer interactions across multiple channels in a dynamic and multi-directional way.
The final segment looks at how engaged your audience is across your offerings and content. An engaged audience can provide invaluable market insight, free product promotion and the feedback necessary to further refine your engagement strategies.
At the earliest stages, marketing efforts are focused on one-way “outbound” product promotion. Higher levels of maturity provide additional value by utilizing data from the customer to dynamically “converse” with their customer based on their needs and interests, while expertly demonstrating value
At the highest level of maturity, the organization becomes an “influencer” in the sense that customers seek out a company’s expertise, insights, and as a source of credible authority in their markets.
Moving Towards Higher Levels of Customer Engagement
While every business is different, a few key factors remain the same across the electronics industry:
- Standard approaches are not effective across the design-to-source buyer’s journey, which includes various audiences with unique needs and concerns.
- Digital customer engagement has been largely stagnant, with only the last few years ushering in a push towards digital transformation to develop more robust customer relationships based on value and trust.
- A lack of information, data, and collaboration across siloed functions contributes to suboptimal results.
Supplyframe’s Maturity Model is designed to be a catalyst for internal conversations about your organization’s unique situation and provide organizations with a high-level path forward.
The Customer Engagement Maturity Model
As an organization that addresses both the buy and sell side of the electronics value chain, Supplyframe’s approach provides a framework for organizations to evaluate their programs and open up new avenues of revenue when engaging with a technical and complex audience.
With this in mind, our Maturity Model was designed from the ground up to address the complexities of the electronics industry. Our interactive survey creates the opportunity to perform a self-assessment and discover where your organization stands, not only in this category, but in all segments of the full Maturity Model.
Read part two of this series for more information on the other segments of the model, and take the self-assessment survey today to find out how you compare to your competitors, and what steps to take next on your roadmap towards intelligent customer engagement!