Most organisations today understand the need for digital transformation, with the imperative only having accelerated over the past year or so. Strategies that were previously meant for long-term implementation suddenly had to be rushed into place in order for organisations to retain contact with employees and customers alike, writes Greg Gatherer, Account Manager at Liferay.

The extent to which that change was accelerated is remarkable. According to research from cloud communication platform Twilio, COVID-19 accelerated companies’ digital communications strategy by a global average of six years. Research from IDC, meanwhile, indicates that two-thirds of global companies will shift their focus in 2021 from traditional, offline strategies to modern, digital strategies to retain customers in the face of staunch industry competition. It’s critical that companies in the business to business (B2B) space don’t think they’re exempted from this.

It’s also vital that this “digital first” approach be taken by the whole company, including the organisation’s sales teams. Instead of waiting for business customers to get in touch, the digital experience should involve sales teams reaching out and building a relationship that educates customers, sharing content and expertise as a solution to their problems.

CX and digital transformation

In order to understand why that approach is so crucial, it’s important to look at how big an impact taking a customer-centric approach to digital transformation can have.

Some companies might approach digital transformation as a technology project. Implement all the right technologies, the thinking goes, and the organisation will be transformed. When they inevitably don’t get the rewards they were hoping for, they might wonder why they spent all that money and revert back to old ways of doing things.

In truth, digital transformation is more about a mindset shift within organisations than it is about technology adoption. That is, organisations need to embrace the idea that technology can help them better understand and serve the customer, allowing them to create personalised experiences rather than just lumping new technology onto old ways of doing business.

The rewards for the companies who understand this difference are manifest. According to Mckinsey, digital transformation and a focus on customer experience can generate a 20-30% increase in customer satisfaction and economic gains of 20-50%. Additionally, 67% of consumers will pay more for a great experience.

And while those trends are just as true in the B2B space, CX is something that B2B companies frequently battle with. In a study conducted by Accenture, 90% of B2B business leaders stated that they “already believe that customer experience is crucial to their companies’ business priorities.” However, a whopping 72% of them also stated that they have no control over the direction of their organisation’s customer experience program (a discrepancy we call “the B2B CX Gap”).

But there is clear evidence that B2B companies can produce great CX and benefit from it. Gartner has predicted, for instance, that B2B companies with ecommerce personalisation will outsell by 30% competitors that are not providing a personalised experience.

It’s therefore pivotal that organisations put the customer at the heart of their digital transformation efforts. As much as any other department within the organisation, sales teams are critical to that.

Building relationships

So much of CX is about the relationship between a company and its customers and it’s impossible to build a relationship in silence. That’s especially true in a world where 73% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. It should hardly be surprising then that 95% of customers are looking for some degree of proactive communication from the companies with which they do business.

Leveraged effectively, B2B sales teams can be at the forefront of providing that communication and of building those customer relationships. In order for them to do so, however, they have to be properly empowered. One of the most important ways of doing so, is ensuring that they have the data necessary to reach the right customers, with the right messages, at the right time.

Here, a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) can be particularly useful. By integrating tools across the organisation, making collaboration easier, and allowing easy access to the necessary data, they can help ensure that sales teams have everything they need to create a more personalised experience.
These insights not only ensure that customers are more likely to make a purchase, but also that they’ll remain loyal to the company and advocate for it among their peers.

Digital maturity action points

Before that can happen, however, organisations must take stock of where they are in their digital maturity journey. This allows them to determine where they’re at in the present, so that they can define where they want to go in the future.

This assessment should cover all facets of the business and should be done regularly to ensure the organisation doesn’t fall behind in its digital transformation efforts. A good digital maturity partner will help an organisation through this and partner with it in determining the action points it needs to take along its digital maturity journey.

Consistency at the coalface

Getting to this level of customer-centric digital transformation won’t happen overnight, especially for B2B organisations that may not have moved as quickly as B2C companies. But people will increasingly expect the same high levels of digital experience for their businesses that they get as consumers. The organisations that understand this and put in the work will reap the benefits.

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