Data Silos and the Customer Journey

Why CRM in mechanical engineering is rarely easy


Mechanical engineering companies have a particularly high density of information: data about customers and suppliers, but also about the project planning, procurement and maintenance of devices and large-scale systems is stored at different locations.


The challenge

This information (CAD, disposition, IoT data, merchandise management, service contracts, customer portal/shop, knowledge databases, etc.) is usually divided into different data silos, can rarely be used together and in even fewer cases digitally for end-to-end processes controlled, monitored and made usable.
We often see that the systems are designed more for operations than for the needs of the end customer (machine operator, production manager, material management, procurement, etc.). It is always a challenge for sales (project management), marketing, product development and service to obtain the necessary information and then process it in such a way that it can offer the customer a consistently positive customer journey.
A positive customer journey throughout the entire life cycle of the customer relationship makes it easier to absorb negative distortions within the relationship, often even turning them into a positive: from the complaint to a positive NPS score.

Previous solution

In my opinion, too many attempts have been made lately to transfer the approach from the production of simple goods to CRM software implementation. According to the motto: The more of the same, the cheaper and better it gets. More competition, more purchasing advantages and even more automation in the standard solution. This seemed to be the easiest and quickest way. A usually very expensive solution was introduced in the hope of solving the problems outlined above in one fell swoop.
From my point of view, this only succeeds in the rarest of cases. Processes have usually grown too differently (historically or intentionally, since it promised a competitive advantage), data and the required peripheral systems are too differentiated and the digital requirements in the companies too different. Also, the following is often forgotten: if you do not adapt your CRM software, your organization and processes will have to adapt to the software. In the longer term, this is made even more difficult by the fact that aligning processes at the procedural level can level out competitive advantages, software costs can explode due to the formation of monopolies, and software adjustments can become very expensive due to unnecessary, unused complexity.
Templates and software standards are justified, but only if I do not endanger the positive individuality of the company, the software can grow with the digitization speed of my company, and the dependence on the software manufacturer for my very own core processes does not get out of hand. Otherwise I will be led instead of leading.


The better solution

Take your customer relationship (customer journey) into your own hands. Do not trust that the standard software will suit you or that the necessary changes in your organization will save you time and effort. Be confident enough to highlight your added value and act individually on the market. The complexity in your industry requires a solution that, together with the right partner, allows you maximum flexibility.
Flexible, customizable standard platforms with a no-/low-code approach could help you to find the right balance between both worlds. In my experience, the initial effort involved in introducing a solution is rarely an indicator of how well a system will suit the company in the long term. Approximately 60% - 70% of the external initial effort is not used for technology, but for work on the company: to finally standardize and improve the processes, to create data bases, to transfer and implement the corporate strategy into a CRM strategy. This is the only way to guarantee long-term success, which is not only reflected in good user acceptance, but also helps the company to make its customer relationship profitable in the long term.


Steffen Dudda.jpgAbout the author:

Steffen Dudda

Managing Director Qualysoft Germany