NTT DATA Business Solutions
Bob Meyer | July 14, 2021

Improve CX by Giving Customers Greater Online Access and Control

customer self-service

(4 minute read)

As technology evolves, consumers have enjoyed greater access and control over their online relationships with companies. Now B2B customers are demanding that same level of access and control in their online business relationships.

Beyond making online purchases, today’s B2B customers also want the ability to view their purchase history, check the status of orders, reorder products and services, establish support tickets, and pay invoices. Companies that fail to deliver this level of online service risk watching competitors overtake them in profitability and other measures of success.

What B2B Customers Really Want

The simple answer to what B2B customers want is:  more automation, convenience and time savings. According to an article published by knowledge-management resource KMWorld, “The self-service user experience has slowly become a must-have for both B2C and even B2B businesses, with 41% of B2B buyers stating self-service functionality is the top feature they want from sellers.”

This may be why, according to Gartner, 70% of customer service and support leaders plan to dedicate the bulk of their budgets to digital channels and capabilities in 2021.

Digital Platforms Offer Big Benefits

Investing in digital platforms to provide more automation and convenience for customers will deliver significant benefits, including better customer service, lower costs, time savings and increased loyalty.

Other benefits include:

  • Competitive advantage: companies that understand the value of providing a range of functionality offer a benefit beyond the quality and price of their products and services. Customers want to do business with companies that value their need to focus on critical tasks and provide a way to save time and effort on things like checking order status.
  • Better sales experience: sales representatives gain a wealth of data to arm themselves during sales calls and customer visits. For example, the sales rep should know when customers have open orders or if there are delays – having this information at their fingertips can help to make the customer buying or reorder decision shorter and easier.
  • Reduced operational costs: giving more control to customers can save on the cost of representatives to answer simple questions about order status, order history, invoice payments, etc. This frees up customer service reps to focus on helping customers with larger, more complex questions and issues.
  • More effective marketing: automating customer care and self-service allows your business to gather a wealth of information that leads to more targeted marketing. Fine-tuning marketing can make a huge difference in customer response.

A few practical examples of what a robust digital platform can offer:

  • A company using a manual ticketing system to manage customer maintenance requests switched to a digital process that provided technicians ready access to all customer information. As a result, the entire process became more efficient, with improved time to resolution, less manual rework and the ability to order products.
  • Leaders at a large machine-tool manufacturer wanted an e-commerce solution that would enable customers to easily order parts and replacements for their tools. As the project progressed, they decided to take the process a step further, enabling customers to upload drawings of elaborate dies into the e-commerce platform. Company staff reviewed the drawings and followed up with customers, giving them the opportunity to not only be involved in purchasing, but also in the custom design of their products.

Getting Started

As you can see, B2B companies that provide customers with an e-commerce solution, and perhaps some online self-service tools, are in an excellent position to take their CX to a new level. By adding self-service features and adopting a complete digital platform, businesses can not only improve customer convenience but also help themselves by providing sought-after features that attract new business, lead to increased revenues and contribute to improved marketing.

You don’t have to do everything at once. We have helped many of our clients to start small, with manageable changes, then build from there to create big improvements. For example, companies that know their B2B customers really want self-service and the ability to look up orders could implement that type of solution first. Later deployments could build on the initial one by including customer service, sales team capability and contract solutions. We work with each client to determine and address their needs and the needs of their customers.

If you’re interested in learning more, download our playbook, How to Extend Your Online Platform to a Full-Service Digital Solution.

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