Last year, Waitrose & Partners announced it would begin testing its While You’re Away service, delivering orders into customers’ homes while they are out. Like supermarkets, manufacturers should continually improve their service offerings to stay competitive. Here Jonathan Wilkins, director at automation parts supplier EU Automation, explains how manufacturers can use social media to improve servitisation.
Servitisation is widely recognised as a business model that allows manufacturers to attract and retain customers. A popular service offered by manufacturers like Siemens allows customers to obtain a product for free. The manufacturer can monitor the use of the product remotely and charge according to the amount of use or added business value.
To make sure you stand out from your competitors, you should always be looking for ways to improve your servitisation. Social media offers an easy and affordable way to increase and improve your service offerings, while raising awareness of our business among your target audience.
Make it public
You can use social media to show your existing and potential customers that they can gain more from your business than just products. Sharing case study examples of customers who have benefitted from your services is one effective way of achieving this. You should also share relevant thought leadership articles on social media, including your own pieces and those written by others, to educate your target audience on your field of expertise — education is a service that customers can benefit from.
Make sure you are targeting the social media platforms that your audience most commonly uses. The easiest way to find out which platforms they use is to ask — just send them an e-mail.
Social media isn’t just about the information you share, it also allows you to ‘listen’ to what your customers are saying about your business. In doing so, you may find out what challenges your customers face and introduce services to help them. For example, if your customers say they want to reduce their energy consumption, you could offer a consultation service to advise customers on where they can increase energy efficiency in their facilities.
Friends for life
Social media allows you to build lasting relationships with customers, so that you can continue to support them. By engaging with customers on social media, you increase the chance that they will message you to resolve an issue with one of your products, rather than source a replacement from a competitor.
It is important that you respond to messages quickly, especially on Facebook, which only considers a company profile to be ‘very responsive’ if it replies in five minutes or less, regardless of the time of day. If you do not have the resources to monitor social media channels around the clock, consider using automation tools to reply when there is nobody available. Alternatively, tell your followers when someone will be available – Waitrose & Partner’s Twitter bio says, “We’re available on Twitter whenever our shops are open.”
Waitrose recognised that its customers wanted an easier way to fit delivery around their day-to-day lives. Manufacturers should engage with their existing and potential customers on social media to make sure they can provide the services their customers require and improve their servitisation.
To find out about the services that EU Automation offers, visit the company’s website at www.euautomation.com.