Three Key Mistakes to Avoid in Customer Product Configuration Experiences

How often have you encountered situations like these:

Your best salesperson is on the phone again complaining about the limits of your company’s product configuration capabilities. At the last customer appointment, they were unable to show what the roof would look like on the house, and the app didn’t have the latest specifications and materials. And as has happened in the past, you know they’ll be spreading their frustration to the rest of the sales team, and talking about how your competitor has a better product configurator.

That call you missed while on the phone was from operations. Their patience is growing thin with salespeople providing the wrong information for installations, and making promises about availability and timing. It’s going to be a long Monday.

Digital transformation is now becoming widely embraced by the remodeling industry, offering a great opportunity for manufacturing companies that serve the home improvement and renovation sectors to streamline operations with revenue and sales enablement solutions. The most impactful solutions are often dynamic and effective product configuration tools.

The takeaway

Digital Transformation is an important trend in the In Home services and Remodeling industry.

Manufacturers that serve the home improvement and renovation sectors have a great opportunity to streamline operations with revenue and sales enablement solutions including product configuration tools.

Three Key Mistakes to Avoid in Customer Product Configuration Experiences

First a Bit of Acronym Soup

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) to Complex Product Configuration (CPC)

Market leaders in your industry have been a step ahead in the evolution of technology. The adaptation of ever-more-powerful software solutions to manage product configuration, development, and production has been increasing for several years. Beginning in the most tech-dependent sectors, it has slowly expanded nto many In Home services and remodeling sectors. 

The Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems that have been the backbone of this process over recent decades are on the verge of being swept aside by Complex Product Configuration (CPC) systems. The CPC approach harnesses powerful tools—like the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning (ML), and Visual Configure, Price, and Quote (Visual CPQ) processes—to create systems that provide competitive advantage. 

“More than 20 years ago, major manufacturers, especially automotive and aerospace, began implementing PLM systems. PLM software was meant to provide the product data repository and workflow methods that help people connect to critical information as well as collaborate across disciplines and with the extended enterprise throughout the product lifecycle, from design and manufacturing, to service and repair,” (Aras 2019). “But these systems and related processes were designed for a simpler era and are being stretched by current-day product development processes and requirements. PLM has been criticized for taking too long to implement, being almost impossible to upgrade and, ultimately, too narrowly focused.”

This on-the-ground reality is why Complex Product Configuration (CPC)  is being implemented across many  industries. Implementing these systems is not simple but it is necessary. Below we sketch out three mistakes to avoid when getting up and running with CPC.

Three Mistakes to Avoid Implementing CPC 

1. Lack of Dynamic Visualizations

One of the first keys is realizing that the in-home selling approach—which is increasingly what many consumers want and expect—has to be fully embraced. That includes the power to give potential buyers the visualization tools needed to make informed purchasing decisions. Home improvement and renovation consumers want to see how what they’re custom configuring will look in their home or office. (This was the complaint of your salesperson in scenario 1). 

The Visual CPQ is the perfect tool for a complex problem.

Visual guided selling leverages a strong customer experience to grow sales. Potential customers will be drawn to sellers that give them the capability to literally “see” their home renovation or remodeling ideas prior to purchase. Visual CPQ systems also provide a dependable price-quote backend for salespeople to use. It’s a win-win scenario.

2. Incomplete & Inaccurate Specs

Giving consumers the decision-making power to create bespoke purchases comes with the requirement that the production side can meet expectations—and do so cost-effectively. The software has to be capable of incorporating the needed configurations—including access to the correct materials, precise measurements, sufficient manufacturing capacity, and a realistic understanding of the installation implications—into an all-embracing whole that functions quickly and accurately. This was the second scenario complaint of operations shown earlier. 

In the end, the customer needs to see in real-life what they saw in the visualization onscreen. “Using a complex product configurator is an excellent way of ensuring that the customer receives exactly what they ordered. They build their product themselves and the whole configuration is saved and sent to manufacturing. This way, customers can be completely confident that they’ll receive exactly what they ordered—and manufacturers won’t get any mistakes in the order.” (Pimcore)

It’s that simple.

That’s why Visual CPQ systems have this kind of advanced capability embedded in their operations architecture. A big part of the revenue enablement aspect of these tools is having automated functions that create accurate specs simultaneously with the consumer’s purchase. There’s no after-the-fact “uh oh” moment when the engineering department realizes “Uh, we can’t actually make that happen.” The Visual CPQ system won’t make the sale if the “t’s” can’t be crossed and the “i’s” dotted.

3. Forgetting About the Rest of the Organization

Greater efficiencies across departments and an improved bottom line will be the reward of thinking about your entire revenue chainNot embracing a revenue enablement mindset across all your departments will leave your company vulnerable to up-and-coming competitors who more quickly make the transition to a model that better supports the entire customer experience journey. 

Ask yourself these important questions: 

  • What data is critical for finance and forecasting?
  • What are the most resource-intensive manufacturing or installation activities and what size of revenue and profit are they?
  • What are the most customer-pleasing and profitable products and services you provide?
  • What do salespeople want to sell?
  • What do you need them to sell?

A key to ensuring operations integration is to include your enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. “Enterprise resource planning (ERP) refers to a type of software that organizations use to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management and compliance, and supply chain operations. A complete ERP suite also includes enterprise performance management, software that helps plan, budget, predict, and report on an organization’s financial results. ERP systems tie together a multitude of business processes and enable the flow of data between them” (Oracle).

With many clients, we’ve found that the planning for a Visual CPQ as part of the Complex Product Configuration (CPC) model  helps make the evolution roadmap for an ERP clearer. By defining the customer journey and mapping out the product configuration experience, companies are able to determine what systems are critical for keeping the promise of an exceptional end-to-end customer experience.

What It All Means for In-Home Selling

To remain competitive in the remodeling industry, especially as an increasing portion of transactions are flowing from in-home selling, it is paramount to harness the advanced Customer Product Configuration tools now on the market. Used wisely, these will enable your company to find customers,  give them a positive experience and maximize g profits through sales and revenue enablement.

This also mean fewer of those calls from the sales and operations, departments!

If you’re ready to embrace the tech that is no longer just on the horizon, but rather right here now, please contact us and let us help you harness the power of complex product configuration leveraging Visual CPQ.

Having the right sales and product configuration tools can make or break companies in the home-improvement industry. These tools are often relegated to the sales team as part of an organization’s sales enablement efforts. However, for tools to be successfully adopted by the end-users, all departments in the revenue process should be on board. These tips can help improve your organization’s chances of seeing the benefit of implementing a new selling tool.