Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mastering eCommerce Optimization: Retaining Customers

Platforms / Strategy / Technology

Once You Have the Order – Care for Your Customers

In previous posts, I’ve applied B2B use cases and solutions to the best practices presented in Episerver’s eBook entitled A Guide to Mastering Ecommerce Optimization. Those posts covered how to Attract, Engage, and Convert B2B buyers. This post is about how to care for B2B buyers to create to create long term, profitable relationship.

As Episerver points out, B2C retailers use aggressive campaigns to attract new customers that lead to repeat purchases. B2B sellers should target that goal and more. Sellers should be looking at ways to offer self-service support for on-going purchases, returns, payments, customer and technical support, and ways to lower their own cost of doing business.

It is time for B2B sellers to support the full lifecycle of their “customer’s” business first, then look at how their own business processes meet their customer’s needs. By doing that, customers are more likely to view you as the easiest to do business with. At that point, pricing pressures are reduced and more strategic relationships are possible.

Using Data

As previously discussed with regard to converting customers, use your own data and what you know about your customers to nudge them into future purchases by reminding them of abandoned carts and eligible promotions. To really help their businesses run more smoothly, use predictive analytics to send reminders for supply replenishment. Offer subscriptions that can be easily modified or delayed. Provide seasonal and relevant promotions based on buying histories, events that may trigger the need for your products (think natural disasters, major events, etc.). Suggest new ways of buying that may lower their overall investment while securing future revenue for your company – such as bundling products together at a discount, taking a quantity discounted order, but allowing them to receive shipments over time. Look for other tactics that actually make it easier or cheaper for your buyers.

Multichannel Customer Service

This is something that we at Rightpoint are really focused on. It goes without saying you need to ensure that consistent content, service and support is available in all your sales and marketing channels. Whether a buyer calls on the phone or visits your website, they should have access to their price, product availability, and all relevant product information and technical data.

Beyond that, B2B sellers need to invest in better digital tools to connect online and offline channels. For example, if you call your sales rep or customers service about an order status, they should have visibility into all your orders, their current status, pricing, and so forth. Beyond that, they should see product offers that may fit your profile, be able to see what products you may have been researching in your online store, and even what items may have been abandoned in your shopping cart.

For sellers, sales enablement and commerce enablement are key investments to create a better buying experience for customers. By providing ways for sellers to create shopping lists, quotes, or even placing an order on the behalf of a customer and eliminating a series of phones calls, you are making it easier for your customers to business with you. At the same time, you are likely lower your own cost to serve.

Post Sale Marketing

Every company sends out the standard email confirmation. Most are very basic, product information, pricing, order totals. It’s time for B2B sellers to act more like B2C retailers. Expand your post sales email confirmations to include new offers, links to related products and information. Ask them for a post-sale survey about their experience. These are simple things that can be easily added to checkout and transactional emails.

Once the order is received, there many different touchpoints you can use to create further engagement. Once a product is received by customers, why not ask for reviews about the product – or even basic feedback for your internal use only? Ask buyers to share – maybe only within their own organization - but also with the broader community. Granted, some buyers would feel that gives up a competitive advantage, but social is a powerful tool for many B2B companies today.

Customer Self-Service

Though I alluded to this earlier, provide your customers with powerful self-service tools. This includes basic order status and order history, but it can be much more than that! Provide buyers with a dashboard of relevant data and content based on their role. Personalize it to their buying locations. Offer user self-administration for things to manage access, roles, and purchasing workflows. Include budgeting and reporting tools for companies to assess their own buying habits and efficiencies. Include return authorizations to further reduce the incoming customer calls to your support center.

On the product side, ask for participation in product reviews and go beyond that by providing product forums so your customers can self-educate and also provide feedback to your product and marketing teams. Is there some risk in that? Of course, but the risk of not engaging buyers is far more severe.

This is not a simple task. You will need deep integrations to your ERP, CRM, and potentially other systems. But, with any ecommerce implementation, most of those connections will be initiated. Building out the customer experience to present personalized dashboards is well worth the investment. Buyers are rewarded with a one-stop shop for all the pre and post sales purchase needs. This leads to a happier customer and one that is likely to help you Net Promoter Score.

That usually leads to a long term, profitable relationship. It’s WIN, WIN for both parties.