Many distinct factors affect the success, or failure, of a manufacturing and distribution website or overall digital presence.

On a more “macro” or big-picture level, there’s the need for your digital presence to be caught up with the times. Beyond that, your digital presence as a manufacturer or distributor should possess state-of-the-art features and functions.

One crucial example of remaining on the cutting edge with the online aspect of your manufacturing and distribution company is digital customer service.

If your digital customer service consists only of visitors on your website navigating to the ‘contact us’ page to find a form or phone number, you’ve fallen behind.

Instead, manufacturers need to provide customers with services that are highly optimized and personalized. And doing so involves chats, automation, and an array of innovative tools and platforms that will bolster a consumer’s experience with your company.

At August Ash, through our years of experience, we’ve deciphered three critical investments that manufacturers and distributors must make:

Below, is a list of platforms that will cover these various functions and drastically enhance the digital customer experience for your organization:

Customer Relationship Management Tools

Knowing every step of the customer experience is integral to your success with your clients. This way, you can pick up on trends, habits, and stay ahead of their needs without keeping your service reps in the dark. 

The automation capabilities of CRM platforms have made 50% of surveyed teams more productive.

In short, access to everything in a database removes unnecessary silos within your organization – which is vital in achieving customer-centricity.

Here are some CRM tools that we’re familiar with at August Ash:

HubSpot

The Hubspot CRM is one of the best, most affordable, and scalable CRMs available. HubSpot offers a free version, but the price begins to get steep once you being to add premium functionality.

This CRM platform also boasts excellent email integration and an intuitive interface. It’s a relatively new tool, so there are still some rough edges that require ironing, such as only allowing a single email address per contact record.

With a cost starting at around $50 per month, per user, HubSpot’s base services are undoubtedly affordable. Yes, the price escalates with additional features, but ensure you only make those additions if you’re 100% confident they’ll be utilized.

Sharpspring

Originally a marketing automation, Sharpspring has grown into a full-fledge CRM platform

You can use Sharpspring’s own impressive CRM that’s available to all users. With this tool, you can sync leads, activities, opportunities, custom fields, and lead scores across your sales and marketing stack.

Starting at $550 means this tech is no small investment. Still, if leveraged to its fullest, it can offer a significant return.

Pipedrive

If you are needing a small CRM for a few sales people, Pipedrive is where we'd recommend most manufacturers start with.

Pipedrive stands out as a CRM with its visuality. You can view and track communication with clients through the sales pipeline. For instance, you’re able to see a list of untouched contacts and contacts made. Then there’s proposal tracking that keeps tabs on approvals and submissions.

Per-user, Pipedrive starts at $12.50 per month.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is undeniably a boon to any business, with it driving up to a 14.5% increase in sales productivity. Furthermore, it leads to a 12.2% decrease in marketing overhead. Plus, 80% of individuals using such tools enjoyed a rise in the number after using the software. These same people saw a 77% boost in conversions.

Here are few marketing automation platforms you’ll want to consider for your manufacturing and distribution organization:

Hubspot

As a marketing automation platform, HubSpot is tremendously easy to use and doesn’t take an overly long time to implement within your organization.

Making it so helpful is that the default settings promote good practices, such as GDPR, progressive profiling on forms, and opt-ins, etc.

As a three-dimensional marketing automation solution, HubSpot does tend to lack complexity. Some users have complained that things like multi-touch attribution reporting are still in its early stages.

Drift

Drift removes forms, cold calls, and countless follow-up emails from the equation. Instead, this marketing automation platform connects businesses with website visitors in real-time via bot technology and artificial intelligence.

This remarkable chat-based marketing automation tool starts at $50 per month, so it’s quite affordable.

Klaviyo

Klaviyo boasts seamless integrations with platforms such as Magento, Shopify & WooCommerce. This software’s integrations also extend to B2C and B2B companies using custom websites.

Users mostly rave about the ease at which they can use and apply Klaviyo’s array of features. These include centralized and cloud-based marketing systems. With such functionality, personalizing and monitoring marketing and customer service is a breeze.

The starting price for Klaviyo is $20 per month.

Integrated Reviews Services

62% of consumers claim to be likelier to purchase from brands that ask for their feedback. While 56% claim to be more loyal to brands willing to ask for their opinion.

Sure, you’re a manufacturer and distributor – so you’re in the B2B sphere. Still, these businesses consist of consumers. Their feedback is as valuable to your organization as it is to any B2C organization.

Integrated review services ensure that you’re not waiting for your clients to give you feedback. Instead, it promotes a feedback loop and encourages communication and retention.

With customer feedback, it’s far better to be proactive than reactive. Having a built-in strategy to address various issues will ensure that any “poor” experiences are handled expertly. From there, it’s possible to turn someone who’s annoyed with a discrepancy into a lifetime client. 

Let’s look at 3 integrated reviews services that might help your business:

Trustpilot

With Trustpilot, your organization will be privy to a cutting-edge review platform. Not only can you benefit from the exposure of positive client reviews, but also take action in the face of negative reviews.

The software also makes it so you can discover, filter, and respond to customers with ease. Plus, reviews can be integrated with third-party apps.

Lastly, the pricing for Trustpilot begins at $349 per month.

Bazaarvoice

If you’re looking to add reviews and Q&A sections to your website, Bazaarvoice is ideal, no matter the size of your organization. The platform offers a multitude of tools that are customizable via multifaceted design and tools.

The support team at Bazaarvoice will touch base with you to ensure you’re receiving a return on your investment.

Distributing review content to the Bazaarvoice Network is said to starts as low as $7,000 per brand per year.

YotPo

YotPo makes it easier to moderate and filter your reviews, providing a conveniently intuitive dashboard.

If you’re using an eCommerce cart provider (e.g., Magento, Shopify), YotPo is easy to install. And, the platform is always adding new and exciting features that you can leverage with great success.

Finding the Digital Customer Service Pieces that Fit

As you can see, the facets of digital customer service are vast. And each aspect requires unique tools for optimal functionality and productivity. 

Note that we’ve only listed tools that are commonly utilized within August Ash. So, this list of digital customer service platforms is by no means gospel. You must assess what kind of budget you have, look at the costs of the tech, assess functionality, and put serious thought into your needs. 

To be honest, making the correct tech investments isn’t a cakewalk, but it’s something you must do to stay ahead of the pack.  

Fortunately, at August Ash, we have an excellent grasp of what digital customer service tools will work for manufacturers and distributors. If you have any questions on this matter, contact us today.