As brands begin the process of continual digital transformation, there are several factors that need to be considered in order to provide successful solutions for common B2B pain points. Innovative ideas are great, but only if the company can operationalize it successfully. This article outlines steps you can take to begin instituting your digital transformation with a customer-centric focus.
B2B companies are fast realizing that their customers are expecting a more B2C-like experience, such as Amazon’s. Customers like access to their order history, product recommendations, and detailed product information as table stakes. As B2B companies continue to improve and optimize their digital transformations, one of the biggest questions they can ask themselves is how to improve the experience and resolve their B2B customer pain points.
Common Pain Points in the B2B Buying Journey
Product information and specifications are often quite complex in B2B companies. There are typically various internal systems that hold product information, pricing, and engineering documents. Yet for the customer, all of this needs to be displayed seamlessly. Adding technology such as Product Information Management and a Digital Asset Management System will enable the company to service customer needs using the right technology for those capabilities instead of hacking an already taxed system.
Another pain point is the lack of customer service. B2B buyers are not willing to spend a lot of money on a product that may not meet their specific needs. In these instances, having a customer-service center that can quickly put the buyer in touch with a product engineer is very valuable. Additionally, having digital capabilities such as a product configurator could help answer these questions. When viewed through the lens of increasing usability of the system, we can see clearly how digital transformation is driving customer experience in the B2B landscape.
The most significant barrier to change in B2B businesses is inaction. Every company should have a budget to keep improving their customer experience and operations incrementally. For companies intent on changing holistically, make sure you continue moving the needle forward through improvements in the areas of people, processes, and technology. A commitment to transformation, however minor, will create a culture of change and problem-solving that allows your company to push past major challenges.
Creating A Culture of Change
Digital transformation for B2B companies relies on adaptability. If you do not have the budget or resources available to do a massive implementation, you can always start making small, meaningful changes.
To know where you are going, you need to know where you are coming from, and pathways in digital transformation are rarely linear. It’s important to take a hard look at your digital maturity and determine where you are. Often, this can mean understanding your gaps and how to define strategies to mitigate them from a holistic viewpoint. Gaps can be a lack of resources or skillsets, poor processes, or even old technology.
The second part of identifying gaps is ensuring you have a champion to advance the maturity in those areas. Who is accountable? Who will lead? And what are some timely success metrics that will determine if the endevour is beneficial or not?
Steps to Implement Digital Transformation Effectively
As brands begin the process of continual digital transformation, there are several factors that need to be considered in order to provide successful solutions for these common B2B pain points.
First and foremost, companies must think about the feasibility of the project. Innovative ideas are great, but only if the company can operationalize it successfully. Next, is the budget something the C-suite is willing to invest in? It’s important to gain alignment with all stakeholders and institute KPIs to measure success.
The following are three steps you can take to begin instituting your digital transformation with a customer-centric focus:
- Use insights to drive customer-centricity.
Solving buyer pain points is rooted in knowing what your B2B customers want and need. Spend time researching your analytics to determine where customers are dropping off and not converting. For example, is the buy button below the fold? Or is it possible that product information is inaccurate?
Determine the foundational items needed to build a best-in-class experience, and consider these as table stakes. Once you have your foundational items identified, you can begin building differentiating factors that set you apart from your competition.
Seeking buyer feedback is essential to effective digital transformation. Always ensure that you’re creating customer-feedback surveys and then implementing the suggestions you receive for more successful transactions and increased customer loyalty.
For instance, if you’re embarking on a new website design, consider showing it to a few potential buyers or trusted clients and solicit their feedback. Simple actions like this can have a huge impact on the sucess of your digital transformation. Communication with your buyers is critical, especially as you move forward in creating the best buyer experience possible through digital transformation.
- Invest in the right technology.
Adding technology such as a Product Information Management System, eCommerce, or a Content Management System allows you to streamline efforts and focus on growing your business. It doesn’t make sense to create home-grown solutions when there are purchasable products that can be configured to meet your specific needs.
However, make sure to take time to think about the holistic technology landscape and determine which products integrate well together. This will help avoid a cumbersome point-to-point solution and create efficiencies with data and integrations.
- Define an operational model and timeline.
We’ve talked about the customer and the budget. We’ve also discussed defining what needs to be built. Now let’s talk about making it operational.
Anything foundational needs to go first, and as it is built, an operational model needs to be defined to keep it running. Who owns the digital product? Who will make the decisions? Who will fix any issues? Who will ensure it’s meeting expectations? Defining all of these items and monitoring the success is crucial in a successful transformation.
For companies looking to resolve their B2B customer pain points, there are several techniques to create an outstanding experience for everyone — team members, clients, and future customers. By utilizing technology correctly, creating accountability within systems, and developing thoughtful, feasible plans to create change, companies can achieve their goals while also delivering excellence.
Written by Mousumi Behari.
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