The future of digital for B2B companies is always changing and difficult to predict. The old style of development was to build what we need for today and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
Through a series of presentations and conversations at B2B Online Summit in Chicago last week, the concepts of blockchain, technology investments and automation kept taking the lead in the discussions on the future.
Let’s take a look at each.
Blockchain: Beginning with blockchain, what does it even mean? Not a new technology as many may think, the simplest of answers is a way for one internet user to transfer a unique digital asset to another internet user. It should be looked at as a technology solution. Centralizing your customer data and data profiles as well as setting your digital standards are great places to start. Now, how are others using it? In short, to increase productivity and turn-around. Remember, time is money. Don’t be intimidated by bringing in a third party who can assist in building this digital solution. Just be sure to stick with your set standards. Standards such as security and content guidelines should always remain the same.
Technology Investments: The Summit asked its audience in a mobile poll, “What is the best bang for your buck in terms of technology?” The overwhelming response to the mobile poll was 'personalization.' Although this seems to be the word of the decade, it reigns true. Personalization leads your potential customer to the best options for them and, more often than with non-personalized experiences, ultimately a purchase (calculate personalization's return on investment). Although, personalization is only part of the concept, you also need to think about the customer experience. Your technology should focus on your customer showcasing your product or service in a way that presents you as the solution. Before making a huge technology jump though, think about validating a specific measurement first. For example, the customer’s journey from browser to buyer and how each channel and click impacted sales.
Automation: In B2B everyone is on a similar journey to obtain better customer data. Some opt for customer care automation, some for content, some for personalization. Despite this, when polled, 35 percent of the respondents at B2B Online indicated having no plans in place. A good starting point, especially when taking pricing and availability into consideration, is with customer care. Employing an option like chatbots may fit well. You could review basic conversations the bot has before more specific questions come into play and before the customer is moved to a care specialist. Use the bot for direction. Just be sure not to completely automate and disrupt the customer’s experience. This should enhance their experience, not disrupt it. Whether looking at customer care, content or personalization all automation should still be tested and optimized on an ongoing basis.
All in all, B2B Online brings to light the many challenges all B2B organizations face. What you need to think about is what future you are going to create for your company and customers and the best method to do so. This may be blockchain, new technology or automation. No matter what, be sure to have all internal parties on board, trial the changes and always think of the customer first.
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