B2Bs, is it time to fix that dated user experience?


Slowly but surely, B2B companies are beginning to understand they need to catch up with the way their customers are finding, researching and buying their products through digital platforms. They are now starting to realise they are being evaluated using the same criteria as B2C businesses.

More and more, customers are placing a higher priority on ease of use, relevance and value, just as they do when purchasing, for example, a home entertainment product on Amazon or any other digital marketplace.

B2C businesses have long been aware that to be successful in a digital marketplace, they need to prioritise innovation through new technologies, new processes and new kinds of engagements, but with a constant eye on the end-to-end customer journey. At the same time, B2B businesses know that while their customers’ expectations are rising, they are often unwilling to innovate to the level required or unable to commit to any real change.

Balancing the experiential with the operational

In our experience with clients, there’s always tension between improvements to the customer experience and the day-to-day operational decisions that are made behind the scenes. When asked to evaluate their ecommerce platforms in terms of customer experience, many companies still tend to emphasise capabilities that seem vital to them but are largely invisible to their customers.

Web and commerce platforms are now the first and most important connection to customers. But according to SAP Hybris research, companies typically prioritise functions such as security, order fulfilment, and back-office integrations – all of which are important, but don’t add a great deal to the holistic customer experience.

Too often functions that significantly impact a customer’s experience are considered afterthoughts to internal processes. There is no room for this complacency, especially when there is good data that can be put to work to improve the customer experience. Content management and product information management, for example, help to build emotional bonds with customers and influence buying behaviour. The more data can be used to create contextualised and relevant experiences, the better chance there is of hooking customers in, so they’ll return to for repeat purchases.

Customer experience strategy is a team sport

The other elements that make up a successful B2C omnichannel experience are also important in B2B. Outside of digital channels, sales teams need access to product information and content, as well as real-time insights about each customer so they can provide the right advice, at the right time. A close examination of every every touch-point across all channels will ensure that customers and employees are able to access up-to-date and accurate product information.

It’s no longer just the domain of retail, or marketing, sales and customer service teams to be thinking about the user experience. The whole organisation needs to buy into a holistic customer experience strategy and all departments need to understand how they can play their role in providing memorable experiences for customers. Doing business in the digital marketplace is a competitive exercise and a and a constant focus on attracting and retaining the attention of the customer is paramount.

Matt Hampshire is Sales Director, Digital Solutions, DXC Oxygen

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