How MakerOS Helps 3D Printing Service Providers Attract and Retain Clients
Service providers play an important role in the additive manufacturing market. EY’s 2019 study on the state of 3D printing (3D printing: hype or game changer?) reported that there had been a significant increase in the percentage of companies using AM service providers to design and produce their parts: tripling to 26% from 2016 to 2019, and expected to reach 32% in 2022. Organisations collaborate with service providers for three main reasons, EY explains. When asked, around 80% predicted that they would work with service providers in the future to avoid investing in in-house equipment, especially for low-volume production. Additionally, access to a service provider usually means access to various technologies at once. Finally, many online service providers are able to produce locally, thus are closer to end customers. With this knowledge in mind, what makes a 3D printing service competitive in this field? In other words, how can providers retain clients that are looking to get their parts produced?
As we all know, more demand also means more competition, which is why the startup MakerOS developed a collaboration platform to allow 3D printing service providers and other fabrication companies to work in the best possible way with their clients. In 2015, MakerOS launched an online space that finally allowed employees and clients to communicate, submit projects, view updates, access files, invoices, and more, all under one secure dashboard: improving client workflows and increasing companies’ profits. So, the key to running a successful 3D printing service in the long-run? MakerOS answers: retaining clients.
MakerOS provides a variety of tools including the Autoquoter, Projects Board, Product and Inventory Manager, 3D File Viewer, Client Portal and more in its online solution. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on two specific tools.
Client Portal: the new way to acquire a customer
Instead of contact forms, which are the typical way providers acquire a customer, the MakerOS online software provides a professional Client Portal. The portal allows clients to create and access their projects, files (such as photos or documents), invoices, and send messages directly to the service team. Instead of emails, the communication hub is where all messaging between the team and clients takes place. Project managers and their clients can attach CAD or any other types of files to their messages too, which are then stored inside the project’s file repository.
Autoquoter: instant quoting system
At the same time, the client has access to the Autoquoter which enables an automated quoting process for most digital fabrication technologies, including 3D printing. Therefore, the production team is directly notified of the part that needs to be fabricated and the sales team can sell the part at the correct price, whilst the client receives an instant quote. Additionally, once clients have defined from an array of custom parameters what they are looking for, the system analyzes the CAD data for manufacturability and provides a cost analysis of the parts.
Even though this is a very useful tool, not all projects can be or should be Autoquoted. That is why MakerOS has included a custom invoicing system which allows services to add custom line items, services or stock products from the Product and Inventory Manager, and connect directly with a service’s QuickBooks online SKU’s.
As you can see, the emphasis has been on offering a relationship-based service. By virtue of that quality of service, it becomes less complex for a client to collaborate with a partner who uses MakerOS. Therefore, they are more likely to come back to them as a recurring client, which is key to running a successful business. You can find more information about MakerOS on their official website.
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