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Demands on your customers and your own organization continue to grow exponentially. But, is there a way to keep that competitive edge and stay on top of the extra challenges? Is there a secret sauce behind B2B success? If so, what’s the magic recipe?
By now, we’ve heard much about customer experience, consumerization and the impact of mobile devices and social media – all of which are important and relevant – but sometimes the basics get overlooked and there’s no harm in reacquainting yourself with them every now and then.
The secret to B2B commerce is uncomplicated enough. It lies within the simple premise that “users visit your website because they have to; it’s their job.”
As consumers we look for the least path of resistance, and that often begins on your website, researching products and services. And its not always confined to the nine to five either, it can be 24x7x365. So that means your site needs to be about making your customer’s job easier. We are all lazy in some aspects of our job. We all have tasks that we hate doing, but have to because we are paid to do them. So make it easy, really easy for customers, and you’re getting the basics right.
Trying to figure out what features to implement is slightly harder. Look at your customers and how they do their job. What features make them most efficient in their job? Focus on that in the first instance. Features and functions such as search, navigation around your site, cross-selling, delegated user administration and custom contracts must be evaluated against how your customers do their jobs. Would their jobs be easier if they could search and browse?
Do they have to call for their pricing after they find the product, or do you give them their custom catalog and contract? Should you offer self-service so they can view and pay their invoices regardless of the channel they used to make a purchase? How about offering punch-outs, which let customers click to buy a product and have the order sent to their financial management system to generate a purchase order and update their order records?
If you evaluate these questions through the customer’s eyes and how to make their jobs easier and more efficient, the answer becomes clearer. Even better, instead of talking about features first, map a journey through your site based on your customers’ jobs. Then go back and look at how to deliver it.
And what if you don’t know what would make it easier for your customers to do their jobs? Well, think about employing a usability lab or simply visiting your customers at their locations and see how they use your site, and your competitors’ sites.
What gets exciting is when you start brainstorming and finding unique ways to service your customers. You will create tools and features outside of the purchase funnel that no one else has thought of. These innovations build lasting relationships with your customers. They will come back to your site, and often. They will buy and spend more. You will foster loyalty. You will have the opportunity to continuously talk about new products and categories.
Making your customers’ job easier. That’s the secret.