How Cloud Communications Can Close B2B’s Digital Gap
Digital is part of everyday life, which means all companies and industries need to have a digital strategy to remain competitive. Yet, new research from McKinsey shows that B2B companies fall short of B2C companies when it comes to digital advancements.
While B2B companies face more challenges when it comes to digitization (they have to deal with more decision-makers in the buying cycle, for example), B2B customers are coming to expect, and even demand, access to digital tools for evaluating products and services and for making purchasing decisions. Going a step further, these same customers want greater transparency around pricing and a more positive, proactive sales experience. In total, this points to the need for B2B companies to make up ground in digital technology investment.
McKinsey points to four key areas—Strategy, Organization, Skills Deficit, and Culture—where closing the digital gap can bring the greatest ROI for B2B companies. When we take a closer look at these areas, it becomes clear that emphasis on one unifying component can offer advances across the board: cloud communications.
As you might guess, B2B companies often fall behind B2C when it comes to placing importance on a digital strategy. In fact, McKinsey found that only 10% of B2B organizations consider digital to be among their top three investment priorities. Perhaps even more disappointing is that only 6% of B2B companies have a customer-facing mobile strategy.
In today’s app-centric, mobile world, these statistics are concerning if B2B companies want to maximize revenue and sales. However, with cloud communications technology, B2B companies can deliver the same productivity capabilities to employees and the same level of service to customers with greater ease. Mobile apps, integration of online chat capabilities and automated self-service features offer the ability to bring your business up to your customers’ expectations for immediate, convenient service - increasing sales and customer loyalty as a result.
A mere 25% of B2B enterprises have strong initiatives when it comes to using digital tools in the workplace. There’s also a clear lack of vision regarding digital strategy. B2B needs to mobilize operations around digital tools, embracing technologies like unified communications within the enterprise to create a clear path toward digital initiatives.
Engaging employees through tools like video conferencing and web chat not only serves to help drive collaboration and maintain open dialogue with management, but it also actively reinforces the important role that digital tools play in business. Regular use of these communications technologies by senior leadership will additionally increase user adoption, making them a regular part of the work day for employees. From here, there’s a trickle-down benefit into our next key area of discussion involving the customer experience.
Integration of CRM with cloud communications technology opens new possibilities for employees. Giving employees the ability to send reminders and notifications to customers and obtain customer opinions through polls and surveys are just some of the ways communications technology can create a more engaging customer experience.
But what does this have to do with skills? The data gathered from these systems can be analyzed to better predict the needs and questions of customers, allowing the enterprise to anticipate key buying habits and usage patterns while also providing more personalized service. Additionally, by streamlining simple workflows with cloud-based integrations and automations, business leaders have the opportunity to staff or train teams with skills that can support more complex B2B customer needs.
Culture of Test & Learn
While corporate culture as a whole isn’t a big barrier to digitization among B2B companies, there is a large gap when it comes to implementing test-and-learn approaches for introducing new digital tools. This results in slow rollout and adoption of technologies that can potentially add great value to the customer experience.
Fortunately, the subscription model of many cloud-based technologies and the flexibility of the latest Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) offerings make it easier for businesses to try, test and adjust. For example, ShoreTel’s CPaaS solution, Summit, offers businesses a full platform on which they can build custom voice and SMS apps to support customer interactions, such as self-service IVR menus, automated appointment reminders or delivery notifications. Without the need to invest significant capital upfront, platforms like Summit allow organizations to rapidly bring new service experiences or even products to market and easily, affordably tweak them based on actual use.
The time is right for B2B enterprises to take a step back and re-focus their efforts around digitization, paying close attention to areas that will yield the greatest return for sales, productivity or the customer experience. A clear digital strategy, widespread implementation of digital tools among employees and customers, and the ability to quickly test and deploy new services will help your B2B enterprise stay competitive in today’s quickly changing market.
Learn more about ShoreTel’s unified communications solutions.