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Next Gen CMI

Does your channel strategy for B2B services need to be revisited?

 
August 12, 2016

Connectivity has become an inseparable and definitive part of my professional and personal life over the past few years. I want to stay connected on my own terms – my choice, my control, and my convenience. While this works on the personal front, for my professional life it’s a different story.

I extensively use the internet when I am at work. But when I have used up my data limit, can I just ask my digital service provider (DSP) to increase it? No. For my DSP I am just a number with a certain plan. Any changes and I have to go through tedious processes and points of contact. Would it not be a far better experience for me as a consumer if the DSP could proactively give me more data, given my usage profile, as against bundling text messages which, as my historical usage record will tell the DSP, I am unlikely to use?

In the digitally transformed world, B2B has edged closer to B2C in terms of addressing customer expectations with respect to channels – whether it is timeliness and flexibility of channels or reaching to the DSP through one’s preferred choice of channel. With the ubiquity of social networks and proliferation of smart devices, and resulting trends like BYOD, the procurement department is not the sole – or even most important – decision-maker anymore. DSPs must therefore extend similar channel capabilities for selling to and servicing of business customers, as they do for B2C customers.

B2B-channels

 

A B2B channel scenario today is more of a reactive environment like the end-customer calling and speaking to the call center, or writing an email, or calling the sales person for a meeting. All these scenarios, also implicitly assume that the offer catalog or resolution mechanisms can resolve any situation. To go back to the example that we took at the beginning of this post, can the problem be resolved using existing offers? Would the customer service rep (CSR) have the flexibility of offering additional data limit to the affected person? Probably not. Also, would I even be able to talk to a CSR? Would I not be asked to route my request through an authorized person in my organization?

I think DSPs need to ask themselves a few questions. Does the channel, as it stands today:

• Offer new services to business customers? Or allow them to configure service to their immediate needs?
• Make it easier for business customers to buy, use, and share their services?
• Respond to the actual end user’s needs and requirements and not merely those of the procurement department?
• Handle volatility in business needs?
• Provide intuitive self-service tools just like end users have come to expect in their personal lives?
• Engage with customers proactively?

Moving Beyond Connectivity – A Channel Management Approach
Digital transformation in terms of demographic drivers and technology capabilities is forcing operators to think beyond providing basic connectivity or query handling. The idea is to empower end customers, personalize the engagement for them, and proactively communicate with them over an omni-channel framework – as these will act as the cornerstones of an enlightened B2B channel strategy. However, it needs to be equally emphasized that to enhance customer experience, automation and optimization of customer facing and back office systems and processes is a necessity. Merely having a responsive channel, which only exposes the inefficiencies of the enterprise to the end-customer, will not serve the strategic goals for re-architecting channels.

Is it possible to design a compelling customer experience across all channels, based on customers’ usage and needs, with a focus on personalization to ensure that individual requirements of business customers are identified and met in real time? So my DSP will know me as ‘Priya Parmar – heavy internet user’ and serve me accordingly. And I, of course, will be delighted!

How do you think your DSP can change their channel strategy to engage better with you? Share your thoughts with us.’

Priya Parmar is a Business Analyst in the Communications, Media, and Information Services business unit at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and a key member of the team that drives next generation business and IT capabilities. She has worked with leading telecom operators in Europe, UK, the Middle East, and Africa, especially in the area of front office transformation. She has built propositions for CMI providers to leverage opportunities afforded by undergoing digital transformation and revolutionizing customer experience.