Contributor: Vishnusurya Pinnamaraju, Managing Consultant – SCM, Enigen
In today’s competitive market, your customers aren’t just looking for vendors who are reliable or have good prices. They’re expecting more than that. As our MD Alex Love covered in this video, a changing workforce is one of a few drivers that is shifting expectations in B2B and dramatically impacting how buyers want to transact with their vendors. It’s also changing what they expect from that relationship. Today’s customers prefer vendors who can provide the fastest delivery, the highest quality, the simplest way to purchase, the easiest returns and more.
HOW CAN VENDORS MEET THE EXPECTATIONS OF TODAY’S CUSTOMERS?
Vendors need to consider what’s fundamental when managing CX, when it comes to a transactional relationship. It’s both the ‘way in which clients can buy from you’, and ‘the information you provide them when and after they buy from you’. You can offer your clients a great customer portal with intuitive UI, but without the data behind it supporting them in things like tracking, re-ordering, and scheduled maintenance, it’s just a flashy sales window.
What we need is to link strong supply chain operations with your front-end UX. The only way, at least in my opinion, to offer truly excellent CX in B2B is by having great supply chain operations which work closely with the Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service teams. Having detailed, connected supply chain data is the key to building outstanding customer experiences in B2B.
1. DELIVERY DATE
Customers prefer to buy products from vendors who can provide the fastest delivery. If you’re able to meet accurate, quick delivery times you’ll improve your customer’s experience – helping them to meet production deadlines or their own delivery deadlines with precision. By developing efficient order fulfillment operations, you can ensure your organisation is able to ship products in the minimum amount of time, to specific deadlines, and maintain a strong relationship with your customers as a result. Keeping them up-to-date with this information by plugging your Supply Chain data into your customer portal ensures they can plan their own operations around your delivery schedule and be reliably kept up-to-date as things move forward.
Quality is very crucial for customer satisfaction and for retaining a good relationship with your clients. Customers are ready to pay more for a product which is made to high-quality standards. By following best practices and enhanced processes in the supply chain operation like manufacturing, maintenance, and inspection the quality of the product can be improved which in turn will improve customer satisfaction and build on your relationship. In the event there are issues with quality, having proper visibility into your supply chain is key. I’ll go more into this in my next blog.
3. TRACK & TRACE
In the event that there is a challenge with the quality of your end-product, it’s critical that action is able to be taken when issues are raised. Vendors should be able to identify the root cause of the issue and take immediate corrective action to resolve the issue before sending additional defective products out to other customers. By being able to trace where component parts come from within your own supply chain, you can keep a close eye on where problems arise if there are challenges with quality. It’s possible to trace the root cause only if supply chain operations like Procurement, Manufacturing, Quality, and Shipping are connected with each other and using updated reporting technologies. The other reason this technology is really powerful is because it can help customers know where their products are coming from and help towards their sustainability pledges.
4. SIMPLE RETURNS
In the event there are issues with the end product, customers also expect to be able to make simple, fuss-free returns. Businesses prefer vendors who can provide a great level of service even during the return and credit process. In my experience, clients are more likely to develop a long-term relationship with vendors who make the returns process quick and easy, and ensure credit is returned promptly. This can only be achieved when customer service teams work closely with the supply chain team to inform them about the return request from the customer – preferably using technology that’s integrated between the front-and-back end, to automate the process. This way the supply chain team can arrange returns quickly through efficient logistics operations, and the customer’s problem is solved as quickly as possible.
5. AFTER-SALES SERVICE
Customers often look to develop relationships with vendors who they are confident can provide them good long-term service, which is particularly important when purchasing long-lasting products like heavy equipment and machinery. Vendors who can provide both a cohesive sales experience and a supportive after-sales experience will be more likely to win business because customers can contact the same vendor for after-sales services like exchanges and repairs. To achieve this, vendors need to make sure they have a well-connected supply chain, customer service, and aftersales teams, ideally using a common technology platform, to enable them to quickly respond to customer issues, exchanges, repairs etc.
Without implementing robust supply chain operations and reliable technology backbone to support your organisation, you can’t truly offer the customer experience B2B buyers are coming to expect. Enigen were recently featured in The Independent about this very topic because our organisation has such a good breadth of knowledge across Supply Chain Management & Customer Experience. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch with our team at [email protected]