Preferences of B2B customers have evolved, and continue to evolve, while many manufacturers and distributors have not made changes to the way they sell. Traditional practices can be both costly and inefficient.
For example, when customers are looking to order products they’ve already purchased in the past, they are often engaging with your CSRs or sales people to do so. When sales and CSRs are spending time completing these requests for reorders, they are losing valuable time that could be spent on more consultative tasks. It does not have to be this way.
If customers were to have digital channels available to them, they could self-serve in some cases by going online to reorder. This would entail using the reorder history functionality native to eCommerce platforms that are built for B2B, to quickly identify the product or products they are looking for, adjust the quantities and place the order.
Meanwhile, while searching for new products, customers may consult their sales representative first to ensure they are selecting the correct products for their application. The sales person or CSR could assist by adding the recommended products to a list on the eCommerce site that the customer can access when they are ready to make their purchase.
Senior Forrester Analyst, John Bruno said in a 2018 webinar that “B2B customers are omnichannel creatures” meaning they prefer to self-serve when possible and use both traditional and digital channels to engage with businesses, depending on the type of support they are looking for.
Meeting customer expectations for these omnichannel experiences is about incorporating a more holistic approach; one that goes beyond deploying a website and instead focuses on how digital channels can drive transformational business outcomes like increase efficiencies and lower cost to serve.
Recent research found that companies acknowledge the need for this holistic approach to the customer experience. According to the Onboarding to Digital report we published earlier this year along with WBR Insights, companies are investing in better service channels to meet their customer experience needs over the next 12 months. A majority of companies (54%) are prioritizing modernizing field service technical support for growth, and half of companies (50%) are prioritizing cross-channel customer service for growth.
It is also important to point out that almost half of the companies we surveyed will place priority on transitioning customer resources to digital channels in the next 12 months. We hypothesize this is the case due to the pressure to keep up with changing customer experiences and fierce competition.
64% of B2B companies have either integrated or are planning to integrate customer self-service with core technologies to create the consistent experience across channels that customers have come to expect.
The best way to succeed with B2B eCommerce is to recognize that it goes beyond a website. It’s no longer just about the environment alone. This is about transforming the ways businesses are engaging with their customers and empowering internal teams. A holistic approach to digital transformation means delivering better digital solutions and greater connectivity between touchpoints to realize long-term success.