workers face scrutinyManufacturing firms must take a more customer-centric view of their businesses as the UK manufacturing sector begins to recover from a period of slow growth, according to Advanced ConsultCRM (Advanced), a leading provider of business applications and services.

Activity in the sector reached a four-month high in November 2014 after solid domestic demand offset weaker orders from overseas markets, a survey has indicated. The Markit / CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI, an industry leading survey which analyses output, orders, employment and prices, grew from a rating of 53.3 in October 2014 to 53.5 in November 2014*.

Simon Fowler, Managing Director, Advanced Business Solutions (Commercial Division) comments: “Although the rate of expansion is a positive development, it remains below the levels seen at the start of 2014. These remain challenging times for UK manufacturing firms, with many still needing to prioritise resources into successfully growing their sales pipelines.

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“Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology can assist manufacturers to more effectively manage their entire sales process from initial enquiry through to product delivery, and provides a consistent view of every customer. This is key to providing high quality after sales support, improving customer retention levels and securing all-important repeat business.”

Leading solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, include integrated reporting tools that provide powerful business intelligence analysis. This enables management teams to identify customer buying patterns and predict their future needs to generate more profitable opportunities. CRM helps manufacturers collate and analyse customer feedback about products and services and use this information to develop successful marketing strategies.

In addition, integration between CRM and a company’s website provides e-commerce functionality which automates many time-consuming manual activities including sales order processing and order fulfilment.

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CRM solutions can also be integrated with accounts, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and document management systems in order to consolidate sales and product information. This enables operational, financial, service and sales teams to improve collaboration by using a single source of customer information, even when they are geographically dispersed.

“Although there is a growing awareness of CRM’s business benefits, there are still many companies that need to invest in this platform if they are to increases sales and maintain their competitive edge. CRM is a vital solution that brings together sales, marketing and customer services in order to help manufacturers identify and generate new revenue streams,” Fowler concludes.