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Communication and Innovation Drives Manufacturers Competitive Advantage

If it’s important, get it right! – in a recent survey, manufacturers were much maligned for their lack of flexibility and poor communication with regards to price changes. However, to stand out from the crowd, communication, service and product support are as crucial as the actual product itself.

Communication, service and product support have a direct impact on how the manufacturer’s downstream customers and sales channels perform.

All three factors affect how much effort will be made towards promoting the manufacturer’s products and ultimately sales volumes. Together, with continued product innovation, this is key to business growth. How can manufacturers achieve this?

What are the Goals for Manufacturers?

The GlassTalk Survey discovered what manufacturers are focusing on delivery when servicing the glazing industry. Manufacturers are much maligned for their lack of flexibility and poor communication with regards to price changes. However, some manufacturers have identified the areas to excel in and focus on.

Service and Support is Important for Manufacturers

The supply chain appreciates superior service, especially with regards to technical support. This is because the manufacturer that gives the best support makes it easiest for their customers and channels. Manufacturers identified service and support as their focus and were very consistent in maintaining this across their responses.

However, the criticism of manufacturers perhaps indicates that the service and communication manufacturing companies provide to others in the supply chain and customers could be improved.

What do Manufacturers Focus on?

This demographic of the supply chain has identified quality of service as a key goal, and the numbers from the GlassTalk Survey corroborate this – 86% in this part of the industry focus on technical support, and 70% focus on service and recovery from issues. There is also a keen sense in fostering good relationships with existing customers, a trend which exists across the whole glazing industry.

Where can Manufacturers Improve?

Firstly, by being more open and proactive in communicating changes in specification and pricing to the downstream customer base. The perception in the industry is that manufacturers are slow at communicating changes, leaving a feeling that downstream channels are left to deal with the consequences. Manufacturers benefit from, and rely on, inertia caused by their customers making investment in tooling and stock that is unique to one manufacturer’s product. Manufacturers would benefit from being more focused on the impact of their communication and adjust the timing and context to be customer centric. This would prevent downstream customers from feeling they are being taken hostage by large suppliers and instead build long term loyalty.

Manufacturers won’t Know how They are Perceived Unless They Ask

Monitoring of service delivery and the consistent use of customer feedback to improve communication is another opportunity. The benefits of this are two-fold: it gives manufacturers direct feedback that allows them to modify their business accordingly, and secondly, it adds to the credibility of a manufacturer, making the company more appealing to foster a relationship with.

Product Innovation and Communication

Manufacturers are keen to innovate and offer improvements to existing products, as well as take new products to market. Improvements are generally aligned with market trends and most are well understood by everyone in the market. Creating meaningful differentiation in the stream of product innovations and improvements is key to this strategy. Ensuring the innovation is directed towards areas with meaningful benefits, and aligned with the downstream channels, requires focus. One way to achieve this is to gather market feedback by first collecting feedback on current products and new product ideas, and then using this feedback to prioritise and guide product innovation.

This case study covers findings and insights highlighted by the GlassTalk  Survey conducted by BBPN in support of the GlassTalk  Industry Networking.

If you would like to explore industry network communication and innovation strategies please contact our specialist:

Contact our Innovation Specialist

Copyright BBPN Ltd ©  Findings and insights can be reported with clear reference to BBPN and the GlassTalk Survey.

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