The Ultimate Guide to DCX

Everything you need to know about digital customer experience in the manufacturing industry.

Forget everything you thought you knew about your customers. They are not the same customers you sold to years ago.

Today’s industrial customers are armed with more information, more purchasing power and higher expectations for customer service — and it’s all thanks to the digital revolution. So, how do manufacturers continue to wow customers and grow their business online?

Introducing manufacturers’ key to success in the new digital age: digital customer experience (DCX). To help manufacturers understand and start building a better DCX for their customers, we’ve created the ultimate guide to digital customer experience.


What is Digital Customer Experience (DCX)?

Understanding digital customer experience is vital to increasing sales and building customer loyalty online. In essence, it’s how the customer thinks and feels about your company after all the digital interactions between them and your company. Here’s a three-step process for thinking about dcx:

  1. The customers’ impression of your business = sum of all the digital interactions with your company.
  2. DCX is limited to only the experiences the customer has through a digital interphase (this could be a computer, tablet or smartphone).
  3. The quality of those interactions will dictate whether or not someone will become your customer.

When engineers enjoy the process of doing business with you, they will come back to your site for future purchases. And hopefully, they will recommend your site to other engineers. So, what are engineers looking for?

3 steps to understanding DCX

What Engineers Want from Manufacturers

You don’t have to be a mind reader to understand what engineers today want from manufacturers. They want a remarkable customer experience.

This is not a new concept. Customer experience is critical to successful businesses, and industry experts have called it “the new competitive battlefield” for businesses across the market. This claim is reinforced by Salesforce research insights from nearly 300 manufacturing leaders worldwide:

86% of manufacturing executives believe customer experience is a key competitive differentiator.

– Salesforce research insights

But digital customer experience is not synonymous to customer service. Online customers have very different needs and expectations than your customer calling the service center, including engineers.

DCX Online customers have very different needs and expectations

Online customers have very different needs and expectations

To make the leap to DCX, manufacturers should improve those digital interactions and concepts unique to the online experience.

Which Digital Interactions to Consider

Digital interactions can occur anywhere online: your website, social media, online review websites like G2crowd or Glassdoor, digital ads and more. But what digital interactions do manufacturers need to focus on to nail DCX?

Here are the 6 areas manufacturers should pay attention to:

  1. Mobile Friendly – Does your website translate well on other devices? Can engineers access your company anytime, anywhere?
  2. Eliminate Road Blocks – Do engineers have to login, provide their information, or jump through any other “digital” hoops before they can see product information?
  3. Transparency and Sharing information – Are product information, your mission statement, and access to more information provided up front? Can engineers trust your company based on online reviews and your website interphase?
  4. Personalized Service – Can an engineer contact your company if they have issues online? Does that feel like a human interaction?
  5. On-Demand and Instant Downloads – Online customers are on-demand customers. How fast can they get what they want (whether its product information, a CAD download, or a quote) from your website?
  6. Future-Proof & Backward Compatible – Business is constantly changing. Will your products work just as well in the next browser, software edition or device? What about older editions?


The sum of these interactions forms the customer’s buying experience. If the buying experience meets his standards, he will likely become a customer and someday a loyal customer and promoter. Therefore, it’s vital to get these right.

Qualities of a Great Digital Customer Experience

Engineers are on-demand digital customers who want more information and purchasing power. Digital resources are deeply ingrained in their work and everyday life. That’s why creating a remarkable digital customer experience is key for manufacturers to connect with their customers.

We’ve narrowed down the top qualities of a great digital customer experience manufacturers must do for their customers:

  1. Speed up the design process while working on the engineer’s schedule
  2. Create deeper customer relationships and consistent user experiences
  3. Empower the buyer with more access to information upfront
  4. Create an easy-to-use interface that guides the buyer through the purchasing process
  5. Deliver smarter, more personalized customer service in real-time

So, how do you achieve these five pillars of DCX? To give manufacturers a picture of what this looks like, we created an actionable checklist to achieve DCX excellence.


DCX for Manufacturers: What That Looks Like

Now you understand what DCX is and the concepts manufacturers must pay attention to. But what does it really look like for industrial manufacturers?

Adopting a DCX-mindset is similar to taking an inbound approach (or a customer-centric approach) to online business. Your online presence should focus on your customers and their needs ― not what you’re trying to sell them. That means giving customers the tools and information they need to make a purchasing decision even if it’s not with you.

Create a Collaborative Design Process

Customers may need to reach out to the manufacturer’s engineers department for help designing a custom product model. They need real-time collaboration, but they also want the process to be self-serve and available when they need it.

It’s a two-prong process for manufacturers:

  • Create a real-time, value-based negotiation
  • Offer a self-serve process for 3d part model design

The key for manufacturers is providing both. The online CAD catalog is the only platform that can achieve this. With an interactive product catalog, customers and manufacturers can now share their expertise to create a custom 3D part model together more efficiently than ever before.

3D CAD Model Downloads to Drive DCX

Giving customer what they want is the overarching goal of creating a better digital customer experience. And when you get down to it, downloads of 3D CAD models are exactly what engineering customers need.

By giving engineers the products they are looking for, you are building a pipeline of qualified leads. Furthermore, the CAD download’s built-in metadata gives engineers the information needed to move them down the marketing funnel toward a complete purchase.

3D Downloads for a better DCX

CAD Mobile App as a Key Sales Tool

As new technology has changed how we buy and sell, it also has changed how we connect with new generations into the marketplace. No technology has made such an impact on customer behavior as the smartphone.

Lead by the Millennial generation, engineers have increased their use of mobile devices and apps to complete work-related tasks and product searches. Since half of the US engineering workforce will be eligible for retirement within the decade, manufacturers must cultivate relationships with the younger generation now.

For manufacturers, a mobile CAD app is an industry differentiator.

By integrating a product catalog with their mobile CAD app, manufacturers can connect with the next generation of engineers and leverage mobile as a key sales tool.

Manufacturers can use the CAD mobile app to showcase their products wherever they are – at trade shows, the shop floor, meetings and more. At the same time, engineers can access the manufacturer’s catalog and download CAD models 24/7/365.

See a DCX-Inspired Website in Action

The best-designed websites are the ones that don’t look like they were “designed” at all.

The same goes for DCX: the best digital customer experience feels seamless, intuitive and helpful. The manufacturer’s website should be optimized for the customer. That means the customer can easily navigate the website and find what they are looking for [the 3D CAD model download]. When the website guides the user through the buyer’s journey and to a product download, manufacturers and engineers win.

Here are some examples of manufacturers who made it happen:

Companies Killing the DCX Game

Who’s leading the game in DCX? While the industry has been slow to adapt to the digital revolution, these companies have made digital customer experience a priority for their online strategy.

Encoder Products Company


Goal: Be the easiest to do business with.

“The new online presence features a fully-responsive design, providing users with an exceptional experience whether they are visiting Encoder Products on a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.”


ceasefire part 2


Goal: Help customers to quickly select the correct part.

“Now, the customer gets to digitally ‘touch and feel’ the product before they buy. The instant 3D visualization is a great way to preview the product, and the native 3D CAD model is the perfect way to test it digitally in a specific environment.”

eaton corporation part 2


Goal: Give customers the fast-track to product data.

“EoDB, or ‘Ease of Doing Business’ is an organizational goal for many industrial manufacturers, but Eaton has made it their top priority for driving new business and increasing customer retention.”

bishop wisecarver part 2


Goal: Seamless integration into legacy systems.

“In addition to meeting customer demands, the BWC digital product catalog will serve as a primary driver of marketing data with a direct integration to their Pardot marketing automation software.”

bison gear model


Goal: Generate more qualified sales leads.

“The new catalog will provide an industry-leading digital customer experience, streamlining the product specification process and providing on-demand access to digital product data in more than 150 formats.”


PFA inc part 2

PFA Inc.

Goal: Ensure customer select the correct part.

“What really blew us away, was the adoption rate when we would provide application reviews. 99% of the time the design already featured a model generated by our online configurator. Nobody was drawing parts themselves or sourcing elsewhere.”

colson group part


Goal: Be the easiest to do business with.

“Using the digital caster catalog and then integrating this technology into our websites and apps, we enable our customers to navigate our extensive product families to select not only a product solution they can trust – but a viable solution that they will actually be able to purchase.”

regal beloit part 3


Goal: Help clients find complimentary products.

“The configurator creates synergy between these compatible product lines and removes barriers that make ordering difficult. The software works on all web browsers and is downloadable in multiple CAD formats for easy data import, which reduces the time from design to delivery.”

choice mold components model


Goal: CAD for a diverse customer base.

“The customer can now insert Choice Mold’s standard cataloged component directly into their model without drawing it themselves, eliminating errors in: design, dimensioning, pricing and part numbers — ultimately saving time and money.”

JW Winco model


Goal: Less stress with the most durable platform.

“Customers can now find J.W. Winco’s standard parts faster than ever before…  Once the component is successfully configured, the customers can check the product price and availability to help accelerate the procurement process as well.”

brother gearmotors


Goal: Streamline CAD for customers and employees.

“The tool itself provides true native CAD formats, which our users are extremely happy with. Plus, it’s great from an administration standpoint, because the new tool is easy for our team to use and fast for us make updates.”

brennan part 2


Goal: Increase sales by increasing downloads.

“Brennan Industries is providing more accurate data in a wider variety of formats, improving the product selection for engineers throughout the design process.”


How to Get Started with DCX

You know what a great digital customer experience looks like. And, you know that having a remarkable “DCX” separates you from your competitors. So, how do you get started?

Let’s break down the tools and online capabilities that you need to have an industry-leading user experience.

Offer Native CAD & BIM Downloads

Customers like it when you make it easy for them to get exactly what they want. What they want is downloadable CAD models in their native CAD format.

The problem is: There are hundreds of different CAD platforms available, and engineers use different software across the industry. Providing native CAD downloads to all of them looks expensive, even for the largest manufacturers.

But with engineering customers using a range of different software (not to mention different versions, devices and browsers), manufacturers can’t afford to pick and choose which downloadable CAD formats to provide.

So, what’s the solution? Provide native CAD downloads in all the formats and versions your engineering customers need.

which cad systems do your customers use?

Today there are six major platforms and dozens of specialized CAD applications engineers use to create and build designs, all of which introduce new software versions each year. Unfortunately, many of those yearly updates are not backward compatible, even within their respective CAD ecosystems.

But with the interactive product configurator, manufacturers can provide native CAD & BIM downloads for today’s newest version, as well as versions from 10 years ago.

By providing customers with the downloaded part in the native CAD they use, the manufacturer also creates a better digital customer experience for their customers, who are then more likely to return to that manufacturer for future business.

No CAD or BIM Access? No Problem.

Customers need product data, but they don’t always have CAD access.

Thankfully, there’s an alternative to 3D CAD & BIM downloads for those engineers and their coworkers. Dynamic product datasheets are downloadable PDFs with the essential information the customer needs. These smart datasheets include: product number and specs, technical data from the manufacturer, 2D drawings, a 3D interactive preview of the designed part and a bill of materials.

With this simple way to share product information, manufacturers create a better digital customer experience for their customers and simplify sales.

Benefits of 3D PDF datasheets with CAD downloads

How to Implement DCX with 1 Tool

Industrial manufacturers must embrace the digital revolution in order to survive in today’s competitive landscape. And, you must create an exceptional digital customer experience around it.

There’s no better tool out there that can deliver on both needs than a digital product catalog with 3D CAD model downloads.

As a customer-centric tool, the interactive product catalog (aka online configurator) was designed to create an exceptional digital customer experience. It offers the user more transparency and usability than any other tool while eliminating roadblocks on manufacturers’ websites. Here are other ways in which the online configurator naturally creates a better DCX:

  • Speeding up the design process
  • Improving accuracy across designs
  • Empowering the buyer with more information and more control
  • Creating an easy-to-use interface streamlined to purchasing

How an Interactive Configurator Makes DCX Easy

For industrial manufacturers to provide the best digital customer experience, they need an online tool that works for the online engineer.

With a customer-focused approach to creating content, the interactive product configurator ensures the customer has the best digital experience and returns to that vendor for future purchases.

In a nutshell, here’s how:

  1. Instant 3D CAD downloads in engineers’ preferred format.
  2. Faster design time with 24/7 access, anywhere there’s Wi-Fi.
  3. All the product information and a quote available in the download or a 3D PDF Datasheet.
  4. Real-time, collaborative design with manufacturers’ experts.
  5. Products are backward compatible and future-proof for whatever comes next.

To see how an interactive digital catalog can help manufacturers grow their business while satisfying customers, check out this infographic:

Why Manufacturers Need an Online Product Catalog [Infographic]

Integrate with Your Marketing Automation and CRM Systems

With all the sales leads, downloads and new customers flowing in from the interactive product catalog, the manufacturer’s marketing team has an influx of data and customer insights.

With integrations available for Pardot, Salesforce and more, the 3D digital catalog makes it easy to see real-time data and customer insights with your existing software.

From the moment an engineer accesses the digital catalog on the manufacturer’s website, the catalog works with the manufacturer’s CRM and marketing automation to help the manufacturer manage its contacts and drive marketing actions.

Tips to Delight Customers New and Old

Now you see how an interactive product catalog creates an ideal customer experience right from the manufacturer’s website, but it doesn’t stop there.

Fore more tips and tricks to building a better DCX, check out the blog posts for a deeper dive:


Put Your DCX Knowledge to Action

Alright, now that you’re an expert in all things DCX-related, it’s time to put all your research and time to good use.

You know that an interactive configurator can elevate your digital customer experience, but which product is best for your company? The truth is, not all online configurators are created equal. You need a tool that creates a better online experience for your customers without creating extra work for you.

With our eCATALOGsolutions, you get a better DCX for your customers without the hassle. Over 800 manufacturers have already joined our PARTcommunity and use our configurator on their website. And in 2017, engineers downloaded over 260 million CAD models across all our manufacturer’s websites.

With 81% of downloaded parts resulting in a purchase, it’s a win-win for manufacturers and their customers.

Learn more about our configurator or hear from the manufacturers themselves to see why our solution is the best for DCX.

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