Automation is so important in manufacturing, and reducing time spent accepting files and quoting customers can save a huge amount of time that your engineers can spend on building stuff. In this article, we look at how you can automate quoting, order management and file handling to save hundreds of hours for your team every month.
3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, is going through some big changes. The technology used to be used strictly for prototyping, but now it’s being widely used for final part production. More and more companies are offering additive manufacturing to create products for clients in different industries and applications. Customers are expecting more, so AM companies need to step up to the challenge.
When it comes to meeting customer demands and creating a gap between competition, the instant quote button should be considered. It’s a great way to close the deal and get the best results.
In additive manufacturing, you’ll notice a new type of relationship between the company and customer. Plenty of customers will rely on the AM company to design, prototype, iterate, and complete their designs. They might even ask for an inventory of spare parts after the fact.
It’s not uncommon for these groups to be in constant communication between WhatsApp and email, exchanging Google Docs and Sheets together.
This leads into two unique positions:
If you’re unfamiliar, here’s how an instant quote button works.
On your site, there will be a widget. A customer can click it and it should bring up an area to fill in some information. The user will fill in basic info like their name, company, and contact info. They’ll have the option to drop a file into the widget, or they can manually type dimensions and applications for their desired part.
In the background, the tool will crunch some numbers based on the parameters that you set. It will check to see if the part is printable, how much material will be used, what machine you’ll need to use to make the part, and how long it will take.
The customer then receives an instant quote. There’s a disclaimer saying that the actual price can vary, but they at least have a starting point.
If you look at the short version, it goes like this: Customer uploads a printable file and gets an immediate quote to have your shop make the part for them.
We’ve done a lot of research around the practicality of an instant quote button. Since we’re additive manufacturing experts, we put together a few ways that this button will help your AM process specifically.
You might immediately notice how much time and money you just saved. There’s no need to go back and forth via email to come up with a quote.
This is a big deal. When an engineer or designer is looking for quotes on their part, they’re usually reaching out to a number of companies at the same time. It can become a matter of them choosing a company based on whoever gives them a quote first.
With an instant quote button, you will give them a quote before any of your competitors can even answer their email. In other words, you secured a client who might make you their go-to contact when it comes to 3D printing anything in the future.
You did it all without needing to answer a single email. It can become a difficult balancing act to complete manufacturing while doing all the administrative work of talking with potential clients and generating quotes.
An independent study found that clients are 80% more likely to go with a company if they quickly provide them a quote for the requested part.
By providing an instant quote, you’re appealing to 80% of the clients that pass through your site.
As we mentioned earlier, customers are very likely to continue working with one AM company after they get a successful print from them. After securing the client, you have someone that can generate constant business for your operation.
More importantly, it’s someone that your competitors won’t have. It helps you grow your market position and become even more successful.
A lot of companies find it hard to manage all the different communications with each client. Instead of fishing through hundreds of emails, you can find information from customers in a single place. Since they’re uploading a requested part alongside all their contact information, you have everything you need in one place.
If you gather more information from them, you can add it to the same source to keep things simple.
Another qualm is trying to figure out the best way to share files. Between Google Sheets, Docs, emails, and WhatsApp messages, it’s hard to keep everything straight.
Instead, you can gather files through an instant quote tool and make things simple.
The customer typically has different options to upload the file to the tool, so it’s more versatile than the previous methods of file sharing.
For designers that aren’t familiar with additive manufacturing, there’s confusion around the types of files that should be shared.
As you know, a pdf or screenshot won’t do you any good. You need a usable 3D model or an STL to generate an accurate quote.
Well, you can specify the types of files that can be accepted through your instant quote button. This is one way to ensure only usable files are being uploaded. It’s also a quick way to tell would-be customers which files are usable.
We put together a study and found that more than 50% of AM companies lose their customers due to mismanaging communication or having to deal with a number of different communication methods.
A lot of these losses were due to a failure to follow up or the inability to send a quote quickly enough.
As you can probably guess, an instant quote button will fix this problem, too. In doing so, you’re potentially doubling the number of clients that choose your business.
Since the instant quote is automated and generated immediately (or at least quickly), then there’s no opportunity for missed communications or long delays.
From the customer’s perspective, this is a huge deal. They will quickly grow impatient if they need to wait days or weeks to get a quote from an AM business. In the meantime, they’ll be shopping around and looking for quotes elsewhere.
By funneling all communication into this single tool, you won’t have to remember to check a suite of different apps, you can just go through this database.
As you might know, incoming customers could have a lot of questions. If someone is getting something 3D printed for the first time, there’s a lot of confusion. They might be used to working with a traditional machine shop, but this is something completely different.
With an instant quote tool, you can immediately answer a number of questions for them. At a minimum, you’ll tell them the price, turnaround time, and optional extras.
The button can be hosted on a page that also offers answers to some frequently asked questions. In reality, this is one of the best places for the button for new customers.
In addition, the tool will tell the customer which files they can upload, which tells them how to effectively share files with you (as we mentioned earlier).
These customers need a lot of reassurance and help during this process — it’s a completely foreign process to them. A quoting button can automatically provide that without tying up any of your time.
If you simplify all these ideas to one point, it’s this: an instant quote button allows you to focus on growing your business.
You don’t need to waste time managing customer communication, you can put your energy into printing, checking quality, and shipping out parts all day.
The bottleneck of finding, acquiring, communicating with, and generating quotes for clients is a well-known problem in the industry. Companies that implement an instant quote button can leave these problems in the past.
As you can see, automation in an additive manufacturing facility can clear up a lot of daily issues. Adding an instant quote button is one way to help you focus on growing your business. Another way is to implement some software that will optimize your printing facility. That’s exactly what Phasio does. We are here to help you make more money annually and work with more clients than you thought possible. Reach out to us today to find out more.