Post-Sales: B2B Digital “Ease of Doing Business”

Keith Klade, Vice President of eCommerce // May 26, 2017

Part 4 Post-Sales: B2B Digital

As defined in the first post within this blog series, I introduced the “Being-Serviced” B2B Customer as those that will have matured beyond requiring “Self-Service” capabilities to those that will want to “Be-Serviced”. Understanding what this means within your industry, to your Partners and End Customers will be critical.

“For future B2B Customers it will be about “Being-Serviced”.

In the second post, we reviewed digital pre-sales for digitally servicing your customers and the third focused on sales phase. As the fourth and final in a four-part series, we will review the critical post-sales phase for Digitally servicing B2B Customers. In fact, many B2B companies will find themselves launching their first Digital commerce capabilities as part of the post-sales phase to be “easier to do business with”. I cannot tell you how many times I have spoken to B2B companies and hear “we do not sell on-line”. This is clearly an “old school” way of thinking and a recipe for their competitors to leap frog them.

Consider the 10 areas below when discussing how you can be “easier to do business with” and service the customer as part of your post-sales digital experience:

1. Transaction History and Tracking

Taking orders via EDI, fax, phone and email have ruled the roost for as long as these companies can remember. But then how many calls are received from Customers attempting to understand the status of their order and other types of transactions. By taking the status of orders, quotes, product pricing, product availability, negotiations, shipping and invoicing on-line, the number of call center calls can be reduced, while increasing customer satisfaction.

2. Commerce Exceptions

How many times have people made mistakes or require changes after having submitted an order? Providing post-sales exception processing such as order change, cancellation, shipment expedite, same day shipment and cancellation requests. These can provide improved order capabilities while reducing call center call and returns. Other examples include warranty requests, software registration and return requests. These reduce calls into the call center as well as make you easier to do business with.

3. Automated Replenishment

Instead of requiring your customer to EDI or manually provide orders, think about on-line capabilities to re-submit a regular stocking or replenishment order from history. Or set-up these orders on-line and re-order on their own based on specific timeframes or reorder points. Consider 0n-line vendor managed inventory programs where orders are automatically placed based on customer inventory/stock levels.

4. Simplified Integration

Larger companies like to directly integrate their backend procurement and purchase requisition solutions with their suppliers sell-side eCommerce solutions. This is often done via online web services, EDI, or other system-to-system integrations.

Consider providing multiple flexible methods for sharing data with your customers.

  • Include integration methods and business intelligence options that cater to the customer’s standards and formats
  • Provide multiple integration options for customers to choose from
  • Personalize product catalogs for specific customers (include their product reference or number versus yours)
  • Provide a means for customer systems to integrate directly with yours for data required real-time. Examples include price and availability information

5. Quote and P&A Processes

In surveys with B2B Distributors, the most requested capability from their manufacturers was easy to access price and availability on products. On-line quick quote and quick order capabilities greatly expedites buyer entry times, while reducing manual processing by the seller. Providing these capabilities greatly improves ease of doing business.

6. Mobile Marketing

Mobile Marketing to mobile devices, such as a smart phone, can provide post-sales alerts via SMS messages communicating the status of orders, reminders such as contract and special pricing renewals and almost any area covered within this blog. Mobile marketing can also provide customers with time and location sensitive, personalized information that promotes goods, services and ideas.

7. Re-engagement Campaigns

Consider Marketing Automation email campaigns that re-engage customers that have not had recent activity. These campaigns can inform companies of product improvements, contract expirations, promotions and information related to their installed-base of products. Any personalized communication that re-engages the customer with value-added information.

8. Loyalty / Reward / Negotiation Programs

Providing your loyalty, rewards and long term negotiation programs (with volume threshold-based pricing or Ship From Stock and Credit (SFSAC) processing) on-line can lead to repeat purchases, volume sales and greater customer satisfaction.

9. Collaborative Marketing

Providing on-line capabilities for two-way collaboration on the status of projects, engineered to order designs/specifications and other types of joint documentation and work in-process. These capabilities build relationships between different functions within the buyer and seller.

10. Personalized Post-Sales Customer Portals

Finally, all the above can be provided via a personalized portal. Allowing users to have access to their most used on-line functions and their specific information. These portals place an emphasis on the companies’ commitment to a trusted relationship catering to their success.

In conclusion, your pre-sales, sales and post-sales processes need to not only provide self-service capabilities, but B2B capabilities that service the customer. Over 50% of buyers will try a new brand for a better service experience and are willing to pay more for it. So, who is going to provide the better “being serviced” experience, you or your competition?

B2B ecommerce, Digital Strategy, User Experience

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