Companies in the supply chain are facing a number of internal and external challenges that require them to overcome their fear (or skepticism) of technology. There are inventory management issues due to materials shortage. Increased customer demands are threatening to impact loyalty. An aging workforce will likely take valuable customer relationship info with them upon retirement. Those supply chain decision-makers who overcome their fear of artificial intelligence (AI) and have embraced AI-driven technology, like AI-driven sales platforms, fare best and thrive. Here are a few areas where AI can help manufacturers.
AI can automate data collection — creating contacts, capturing emails, phone calls, texts, meetings, as well as creating orders, opportunities, and updating the status of invoices. This provides a complete view into every interaction a manufacturer has with a customer, prioritizing all of the company's efforts in helping both internal teams and customers.
For example, a well-known medical equipment company we worked with struggled with an outdated CRM and found that their data was confusing and seemed inaccurate. When they overcame their fear of AI and implemented an AI-driven solution to automatically track their emails, calls, etc., the AI identified missing contacts at each customer with whom they were interacting. This medical equipment manufacturer was able to connect more with customers and develop targeted and effective marketing campaigns.
AI can spot patterns in a customer’s order history, calling attention to and giving clarity when there are changes in placed (or lack of) orders. With AI, this is monitored in real-time, sending out alerts when orders are missed to prevent any hits to incoming profitability.
Another example is a conduit manufacturer that was managing order histories from thousands of customers. It was impossible to track all of this data manually. The result was the company realized a customer wasn’t placing consistent orders until it was too late. Trusting that AI could have an impact, they implemented a sales platform which gave them visibility into their orders, proactively alerting account executives to follow up when buying behaviors changed.
AI ensures that sales reps are conducting timely outreach to leads and prospects on the right schedule by generating automated reminders. By creating a smart process, AI helps teams be productive and stay on task. Developing this level of productivity builds trust, nurturing customer relationships that drive future sales.
For example, a large fabric distributor was requiring their account executives to visit top customers every month. Developing those schedules took time, but by implementing an AI assistant that proactively reminded the team to schedule these meetings, it left a lot more time for selling.
A great supply chain use case for AI is monitoring fulfillment status against orders and sending proactive alerts when anything is delayed. By having teams proactively reach out to customers when their orders may be late, companies are strengthening positive relationships.
A custom parts trucks manufacturer we work with shipped a significant number of their orders late due to supply chain disruptions. In order to keep customers updated and to manage expectations, they implemented AI, which proactively alerted account executives to the production issues that were delaying orders. By automating this process, they stopped wasting time with internal meetings where they were manually reviewing this information, allowing staff to spend more time with their customers.
We will continue seeing the possibilities that AI brings to executives in the supply chain who overcome their fears of emerging technology, and implement AI. By enabling proactive reminders and automated data, companies can get back to growing their business.
Adam Honig is CEO and co-founder of Spiro.AI, a manufacturing-focused SaaS company.
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