True or false? The manufacturing industry needs a digital CX revolution

Published: 13-Jun-2024

Does manufacturing have a digital customer experience (CX) problem? A recent survey revealed that just 10% of consumers found the industry to be CX-friendly … with only the government ranking lower(1)

Poor customer experiences are often the symptoms of challenges elsewhere in the organisation … but what? Chemical manufacturer WACKER asked itself that same question.

According to McKinsey, modern companies depend on a personalised, social and growth-oriented employee experience to succeed.2

So, instead of focusing on the customer experience, WACKER looked in the mirror and soon found an area that was ripe for improvement: communication, collaboration and resources within the company.

Here’s how the company set out to solve this challenge and what the manufacturing industry can learn from Project GLOBE.

Who is WACKER?

WACKER started with a single factory in Burghausen, Germany. Now, it’s a global company with 24 locations worldwide. Its focus on innovation and teamwork has been key to its unprecedented growth.

Its products are in high demand throughout many industries, but it needed a better intranet to help its significant workforce, including thousands of collaborators, to work together more effectively.

WACKER identified that its internal communication platform, a decade-old SharePoint, was outdated and no longer met the company’s needs.

True or false? The manufacturing industry needs a digital CX revolution

Joerg Hettmann, Senior Vice President at WACKER, explained that information sharing and communication within the company had grown much more complex during the past decade, making the old system unsuitable.

A new hope

The company decided that the new intranet should be designed around its users. This wouldn't just be a place to share documents with regional colleagues.

It would be a platform to connect everyone in the company — from factory workers to research scientists — offering easy access to the entire pool of knowledge, regardless of the employee’s location or department.

User experience would be key. It had to be a platform that was as good and natural as those people used in private. Hettmann highlighted that people use digital tools to find information, share ideas and connect privately. So why not bring that same ease and flexibility into the workplace?

Leading by example

In the spirit of making informed decisions, WACKER embarked on a research journey instead of guessing what its employees needed in a new intranet. It held focus groups with people from all across the company to find out what problems the current system had and what features were most important.

Employees agreed that, among other things, the old system was difficult to navigate and made the company feel divided.

Armed with a list of priorities and user criteria, another 150 employees tested solutions from multiple vendors before choosing.

From an initial list of 135 requirements, WACKER used the Kano model for product development to select eight core use cases that would guide the design of a new user-centric intranet called GLOBE.

These eight uses led to the following three benefits.

Next-gen collaboration: GLOBE — a user-led solution that would reimagine collaboration throughout the enterprise — rapidly became the place to find colleagues, legal entities and subsidiary trading companies. The unified search centre made it simple to pinpoint people and initiate collaboration. As a result, the directory offered superior search experiences and efficient cross-functional collaboration.

Free-flowing communication: Telling stories in a large organisation is challenging; sharing leadership stories and communications were two of WACKER’s eight use cases. With GLOBE, story views on C-suite content rose by 230%. Much of this success is because of the social media-style personalised news feeds, which was also an initial use case.

Boosting productivity and onboarding: Finally, GLOBE was designed to help each employee reach peak performance. “Apps & Tools,” a centralised catalogue of enterprise systems, offered streamlined access to every tool in WACKER’s arsenal. Employees quickly took advantage of the opportunity, with a 120% increase in views since launch.

True or false?

So, does the manufacturing industry need a digital CX revolution? The answer is yes. The better question is how to do it. Treating the symptoms rarely solves the root of the problem, although it can sometimes work.

However, WACKER’s story is evidence that improving the employee experience by evolving internal communication, collaboration and access to resources can take manufacturers to the next level and, as a result of an organisation-wide performance improvement, revolutionise the customer experience.


  2. global institute/our research/performance through people transforming human capital into competitive advantage/mgi-performance-through-people-full-report-vf.pdf.

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