5 Ways Salesforce Will Power the Digital Future of Manufacturing

When asked during the Manufacturing Keynote at Dreamforce 18 why her company started using Salesforce to create a digital ecosystem

5 min. read

When asked during the Manufacturing Keynote at Dreamforce 18 why her company started using Salesforce to create a digital ecosystem of customers, Sabine Busse, Senior Vice President at ABB, offered an arresting answer: “A couple of years ago, our customers dramatically changed… They demanded to buy not just products, but services, solutions [and] systems.”

Busse’s answer is noteworthy because it perfectly articulates how the industry is starting to change. Customers want personalization and customization. The Internet of Things makes real-time product monitoring possible. And according to recent survey data, some manufacturing sectors have even seen their “share of revenue and employment associated with services run as high as 55 percent.

In other words, pure production may no longer be enough to meet customers’ needs.

Which brings us back to the keynote. The clear goal of the presentation was to illustrate how Salesforce is capable of supporting business beyond the supply chain during a time of industry evolution. Overall, it did a great job highlighting how manufacturers can start to build their own digital ecosystems. These are our top takeaways for those who don’t have time to watch the just-posted recording.

Takeaway #1: Live Agent helps customers navigate a range of complex products.

One sign that the manufacturing industry is still in the early stages of its digital transformation? The average buyer is still pretty likely to pick up the phone if they’ve got a question about a company’s product range. There will come a time soon, however, when they might prefer a live chat option offered via web.

This potential shift is great news for manufacturers for two reasons. As pointed out in the keynote, the first has to do with your bottom line. Connecting with a customer at their initial point of interest is huge from a sales perspective. If a customer is visiting your website and decides to engage, that signals a good possibility of real interest.

The other reason is the fact that live chat is already a widely used technology in other industries, meaning it won’t be difficult to implement as part of a Salesforce build.


Takeaway #2: Einstein powers sales reps to suggest product pairings.

Up until recently, many manufacturers focused almost exclusively on producing products. As the Internet of Things (consisting of the world’s collection of smart devices) continues to expand, however, those same companies are going to have a chance to capitalize on connected devices by selling monitoring services. From the customer’s point of view, it’s a no-brainer: Instead of waiting until their machine or device actually breaks to get it fixed, they can receive notifications about any anticipated issues or malfunctioning. This allows them to schedule an appointment for preemptive repair and save on the potentially high cost of down time.

Of course, this does create a potential challenge for sales reps: Knowing when to suggest a monitoring technology for a given product. For companies with a complex portfolio of offerings, it could prove especially difficult. Thankfully, suggestions from Salesforce’s layer of artificial intelligence can make it much easier. Once an opportunity has been created, Einstein will offer ideas for product pairings based on past sales data. At scale, these simple notifications can help dramatically increase the overall performance of a sales team.

Takeaway #3: Communities make it easy to schedule service appointments.

The logical conclusion to offering connected products and monitoring services? Offering repair services, as well. Customers will appreciate the simplicity of working with a single company for the full lifecycle of their purchase, and manufacturers themselves obviously stand to benefit from an entirely new revenue stream.

Even better, the service process doesn’t have to be a complicated one. Once a sensor detects the likelihood of product malfunction, the customer will automatically be notified through a custom portal powered by Community Cloud. Using that same portal, the customer can then set up a service appointment that’s convenient for their schedule. No need for them to make a call — which means there’s also no need for a service rep to answer on the other end. Everybody saves time.

Takeaway #4: MuleSoft connects field service agents to the data they need.

Once a service technician heads out into the field to repair a product, they’ll need access to the right data. With the Field Service Lightning mobile app, they’ll have a 360-degree view of the customer. And thanks to an integration powered by MuleSoft, they can also see necessary product information stored in the company’s database — things like manuals and part specs.

After the repair is finished, the technician can even use their phone to collect the customer’s signature. By itself that not may seem huge, but it’s illustrative of a larger point. The broad scope of the mobile app prevents the need to switch between platforms — and that makes life much easier for the technician.

Takeaway #5: Marketing Cloud enables nearly effortless reengagement.

After a service technician finishes a repair, their company will want to send the customer a quick NPS survey — standard practice. With Marketing Cloud, though, manufacturers can use this simple touchpoint as a way to bring their digital ecosystem full circle. That means companies across sub-verticals can use NPS requests as triggers for personalized email journeys. Once they submit a score, customers will receive automated emails featuring content that might be of interest to them. Depending on how they interact with that content, they’ll receive one of several different follow-up options.

The goal? To nurture an existing customer until they’re ready to make another purchase. A purchase they might just initiate via live chat.

That’s really the biggest takeaway here: Going forward, many manufacturers will need to take ownership of the full customer lifecycle: Sales, service, marketing, then sales again. Customers are starting to expect it, and that momentum is only going to keep growing. Thankfully, Salesforce is designed to help manufacturers build the kind of digital ecosystem that makes this new business model possible.