4 Ways CRM Can Improve Your Manufacturing ERP

We have looked at CRM systems for a long time as a valuable tool for marketing and sales. We use CRM to track suspects and help turn them into prospects. Then we hope they become customers and ideally, repeat customers. We learned to use CRM to track our sales pipeline as the probability of an order increases until it reaches certainty where we have a purchase order from a live customer. We have used CRM to record all our contacts by phone, email, letters, and in person and to plan the next contact.

The question is, does CRM have any value for a manufacturer beyond sales and marketing? We hope it does. Many ERP providers include manufacturing CRM modules, so let’s look at a few ways manufacturers can benefit from the CRM module they already have.

Bidirectional Data

Manufacturing CRM doesn’t have to be unidirectional. We can use CRM to provide information the customer wants such as inventory availability or the status of a production job. That information is already in the ERP and customers contact their sales representatives every day asking those questions. Unless there is a lot of added value in having a live person answer the question why not provide that answer through CRM?

Targetted Quality Control

We can also use manufacturing CRM to ask how our customers define quality. Ideally their definition is exactly the same as ours, but I suspect that is rare. If we know their yardstick and use it ourselves within our manufacturing ERP, we should be able to have more satisfied customers.

Identifying Deficiencies

How about using manufacturing CRM to ask customers where we are deficient? That might seem like a weird idea since we all strive to be perfect. But if we can learn of our perceived deficiencies, we can help keep our customers ours and stop them from switching to a competitor they perceive not to have our deficiency.

Manufacturing ERP Forecasting

Forecasting is hard for a lot of manufacturers. Even when we are selling to the end customer, forecasting within manufacturing ERP is not easy. But when we are a middle man in the overall supply chain it is much more difficult. Our customer takes our product and adds value and it becomes a part of their product. Another business takes their product and repeats the process. Forecast insight diminishes with every link. Manufacturing can be a very complex business.

What if we could integrate forecasting in manufacturing CRM by asking our customer about the future? What if we opened CRM up to the entire supply chain? Shouldn’t our customer’s customer be a part of CRM too? CRM can be the tool that welds that link in the supply chain. Look out of the box and think about your CRM tool and how well you use it.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at customerteam@erpfocus.com.

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Tom Miller

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