A strong sense of urgency is generally considered a positive characteristic in a channel partner or a salesperson. For manufacturers trying to handle inbound requests, that same sense of urgency can result in huge inefficiencies that in turn create unnecessary overhead costs. In fact, a 2015 survey from New Voice Media reported that inefficient customer service practices costs U.S. companies over $15 billion per year.
How does this happen? In a nutshell, it’s from redundant requests. It’s not uncommon for a channel partner to call or email five or more different contacts at a specialty manufacturer with the same request. Channel request multiplicity often occurs due to a lack of access to the right content or commerce capability, or simply a lack of access due to remote geography. Add the complex nature of a specialty manufacturing environment to the urgent needs of a channel partner, and you’re at high risk of significant, costly inefficiencies.
Many specialty manufacturers have attempted to create custom sales portals that turn out to be expensive to manage and maintain, or the technology begins to age and becomes ineffective. And most homegrown solutions simply don’t have remote, let alone mobile, access for field sales and support staff.
The answer lies within a unified commerce solution. A single login channel partner portal can significantly reduce frustration, confusion and of course cost, but it must have certain characteristics in order to be effective:
- Mobile and offline access to commerce and content. The reason channel partners often make multiple requests is because their time in the office is often limited. Access to both commerce needs like ordering and pricing, as well as content needs like custom catalogs, spec sheets and proposals must be available not only via desktop but also from mobile devices and offline.
- A single sign-on for both commerce and content. Channel partners require sophisticated tools that allow them to adapt to the sales cycle of their clients. A strong tool offers seamless commerce and content capabilities that include checking inventory, viewing order status and history, requesting quotes and creating compelling and effective cucstomer proposals.
- Easy integration of content and commerce to CRM, ERP and other enterprise systems. Relying on field staff and customer service to manually update these systems results in mass inefficiencies. The right unified commerce solution not only helps bring together the needs of the channel partner in terms of commerce and content, it provides a bridge back to the organization for correct, real-time updates to enterprise systems that run the business.
In our experience, the adoption of a unified commerce solution reduces costs from channel request multiplicity by 50% or more. Using a tool like Insite as a channel partner portal creates a self-serve environment that provides the right information at the right time, in the right way. Ultimately satisfying your channel partners’ sense of urgency, driving more revenue to the bottom line.