Design led customer experience

Why Design-Led CX is Becoming the Next Big Thing for B2B Manufacturers (Part 2)

Manufacturers need to greatly improve their online interactions with customers because B2B customers now expect a ‘consumer grade’ experience. After all, that’s what they are used to in their personal lives. Part 1 of this blog series discussed why Manufacturers need a B2B ecommerce platform and this blog will follow on by discussing the importance of CX design. The shift in customer expectations is due in part to the rise of the millennial buyer, the first generation to grow up with mobile phones and the internet. B2B ecommerce now involve millennial decision-makers, so it’s clear that B2B manufacturers must digitally transform to interact with their customers in the way they prefer.

A 2018 study 1 showed that more than half of B2B companies that were classed as having exemplary capabilities in terms of a B2B ecommerce platform maturity had already adopted several self-service capabilities in their digital sales environment. The most popular self-service capability was online order, quote, shipment, and purchasing history tracking. Amazon is a company that is known for providing an excellent omnichannel B2B customer experience and this capability has allowed them to rise above their competition. Amazon has set the gold standard for easy, intuitive customer journeys for buying and accessing aftersales services such as returns. Because B2B buyers are regularly using Amazon for their consumer purchases, they do anticipate a similar level of ease-of-use when they interact with their manufacturing supplier online.

Putting the customer at the heart of what you do makes good business sense.

However, B2B customer journeys in ecommerce are often far more complicated than B2C and need a lot of thought in order to map out optimal customer experiences. CX design goes much further than simply automating processes and reducing human interaction. It’s essential to have a deep understanding of all the different scenarios of how customers may need to interact. For example, what happens if a customer’s credit terms are on pause but they need to keep on buying. Does the manufacturer want to give them the ability to pay directly?

With the digitalisation of all customer processes, manufacturers can increase efficiency in customer service, create transparency for all relevant information and ensure the flow of information between the manufacturer and its dealers. Their customers can enjoy a faster, smoother checkout, easy repeat ordering, improved tracking and quick delivery. With a good B2B ecommerce platform, manufacturers can redefine the buying experience by automating and simplifying the full order-to-cash process.

When planning a CX project, it’s key to put the needs of the user at the forefront and not allow the business processes or the technology itself to dictate the customer journeys.

Manufacturers need to look at how their organisation can deliver journeys for customers that are simple and fast so they can deal with the manufacturer in a more efficient way and on their own terms. Tailoring the experience to the customer is important, by reflecting the products they buy, the frequency of the engagement and so on. Keeping in mind the B2C ecommerce principle of ‘selling to an audience of one’ with each interaction.

To make sure a CX project is successful, we recommend choosing a CX specialist who takes a design-led approach and gets their User Experience (UX)/User Interface (UI) team involved from the very beginning. At NTT DATA Business Solutions, we find this is essential to providing B2C-style, intuitive online experiences.

Manufacturers must resist the temptation to lead with their own requirements first as it’s the customers who will actually be interacting with the CX system. So, step one is to understand what the customer wants, how they need to interact with the system and to make sure the whole experience revolves around them. We recommend scoping the journeys together with the manufacturer’s own customer and the UX/UI team.

A good CX provider will then look at how to make those journeys both simple and intuitive.

This approach involves automating as much as possible in B2B ecommerce. The technology should deliver those defined experiences rather than driving what those experiences should be. Wireframing the journeys, then testing and refining them before anyone starts coding saves a lot of implementation time. This is a good approach to make sure that you’re only developing functionality that will be used and to negate the need to rework any journeys. It’s so important to do that prototyping upfront, streamline it, test the user experience and so save development time at the back end. We’ve all had user experiences that are so frustrating you give up halfway through. In general, customers’ tolerance factor has got shorter. We all expect fast, easy interactions online. It’s massively important to give a customer something they can easily use and keep on using.

Additional Resource

Watch the On Demand Webinar “Learning from Experience: B2B Commerce in Manufacturing” to hear more about the CX challenges facing the Manufacturing sector.

2018 study

NTT DATA Business Solutions
NTT DATA Business Solutions

Our experts are keen to stay up to date with new developments and always share their insights, knowledge and opinions from all around the world. They cover a wide range of IT and business-related topics, including SAP and industry expertise as well as management issues. Most of them have gained many years of experience in the area of SAP - always close to the customer. That’s why they know the requirements of the market, of our customers and their customers’ customers/ partners. Get inspired and contact us if you would like to talk to them directly.

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