Why CX needs to be at the forefront of your PLM evaluation

Technology / Why CX needs to be at the forefront of your PLM evaluation
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Summary: CX is a crucial part of selecting a PLM system, that is often forgotten. But its impact on user adoption, process compliance, and profitability are all reasons why it needs to be a priority during your PLM evaluation

Customer experience (CX) is traditionally something PLM vendors leave by the wayside.

Rip and replace methodologies, implementations that can last years, and a high barrier of entry all contribute to a poor CX.

In many cases, PLM vendors are incapable of delivering their services any other way.

But enough is enough.

Today, we look at why customer experience should be a core requirement during PLM evaluation, and how the PLM customer experience can seriously impact your bottom line.

What is CX?

Before we get started, what is customer experience?

Forrester defines it as: “how customers perceive their interactions with your company.”

Which is a pretty good start.

To us, customer experience is the experience of the customer throughout their entire relationship with your company and product, across every touchpoint or channel.

And for digital products, a big part of the CX is the user experience (UX) of the software.

But where CX refers to an individual’s overarching relationship with a company, UX refers to the user’s experience with the software that the company provides.

Let’s take Apple, for instance.

With their stellar ads, modern stores, and superb customer service, most people have a positive CX with Apple.

But let’s say the latest version of iOS is seriously slowing down your iPhone.

Then the UX you had with your Apple product was poor, despite your positive CX with the company.

Now that we’re clear on what we’re talking about, let’s get into why you need to consider it when during PLM evaluation.

CX and UX fuels adoption beyond engineers

A PLM is only as valuable as the people, processes, and systems it connects.

This means that lots of different people with lots of different experiences need to be equally comfortable in the product.

Which is why PLM adoption is always a struggle.

Because PLM is usually built for technical engineers – not for the 70% of PLM users who didn’t go to engineering school.

This means is that it’s difficult to drive engagement beyond engineering.

And if people don’t like a product…

… they’ll move heaven and earth to avoid using it.

In one extreme case, an enterprise architect at major US retailer said that poor UX was the reason the company’s $15 million PLM implementation flat out failed.

But a positive CX, in conjunction with a great user experience, can help mitigate this problem.

Because people use the tools they like.

So if you can provide an experience that works for everyone, with a product that’s quick and easy to use, your adoption rates will soar.

CX will reduce workarounds

When software works the way people need to, they use it.

And when it doesn’t, they don’t.

Instead, they build some workaround.

A workaround that:

  • Is uncontrolled
  • Is usually a manual process
  • Lives outside of compliance / regulatory processes
  • Takes forever
  • Isn’t documented effectively

PLM is especially prone to workaround syndrome.

A long history of demanding rip and replace implementations have isolated engineering teams in the “new” working environment of a PLM…

While in the background, auxiliary teams continue to use the point solutions they know and do their jobs with minimal PLM involvement.

By making software that people want to use and giving them an experience they like, organizations can reduce the number of workarounds that crop up.

Data and processes remain within a controlled environment, and businesses can spend less time and energy manually moving projects forward and fixing mistakes that invariably creep in.

PLM, CX, and you

Positive customer experiences beget positive customer experiences.

Let us explain.

First, providing a positive customer experience is a good idea:

  • PwC reported that 73% of consumers say that CX is the third most important factor in a purchasing decision.
  • Forrester found that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of CX leaders was 17%, compared to 3% for CX laggards.

So providing a positive customer experience is an easy way to differentiate your organization and grow your business.

How do you do it?

Since a great CX is about creating a unified and consistent experience across the entire customer journey, having systems that work together makes it a lot easier.

And to create an ecosystem of connected customer touchpoints, you need to have a connected ecosystem in the background.

PLM that people actually use makes providing a high-quality customer experience a lot easier by connecting the different nodes of the customer journey in the background. This way the customer gets a seamless experience no matter how they engage.

For example, let’s say you’re an engineer to order company that gets tasked with building a conveyor belt.

You’ll receive specifications from your client, but that sales handoff isn’t the only customer touch point.

You might collaborate on requirements, physical limitations, use cases, and more.

Specs might change, and the project might evolve as you tackle engineering challenges together.

The customer might want project reports, updated specifications, access to data, and more.

Each of these touch points from the customer perspective needs to be the same experience.

But to do that, you need to keep everyone on the same page with real-time data access…

Which means keeping data within a single system…

Which means getting a PLM that people will actually use.

And that’s where CX for PLM comes back into the picture.

By making CX a core priority in your evaluation, you give yourself the best chance of creating a connected experience for your users.

Which in turn creates a better experience for your customers, and means more revenue for you.

Wrap up

CX is a powerful aspect of PLM that is often overlooked.

A positive customer experience not only makes for better PLM adoption, but it also fuels actual use beyond engineering teams, reduces workarounds, and keeps data centralized and up to date.

But the benefits extend beyond just user experience for internal teams.

By adopting a PLM that provides a sound customer experience, organizations are much better positioned in turn to provide a sound CX to their customers.

A CX that generally correlates to better customer loyalty, faster customer adoption, and ultimately, more revenue.

CX for PLM isn’t just a nice to have feature. It should be a core competency in your PLM evaluation strategy.

Image Credit: Mateusz Dach via Pexels