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October 03 2017

Is it easy for your customers to do business with you?

This is a guest blog post from Frank Sohn, Novus CPQ Consulting, who is one of our speakers at TactonDay later this week!


Most people intuitively know that quick and efficient responses to customer requests increase the chances of satisfied customers. These satisfied customers will, in turn, come back for more business. The question is why it's so difficult to actually deliver quick and efficient responses to customers?

I think we all have different experiences of this, so let's first look at some examples of what makes it hard to do business with a company.

Customer Service

  • Asking a customer multiple times for the same information
  • Customer has to re-enter the same information in multiple places
  • Customer starts investigating and buying products online and when a question comes up that requires someone to support them, nobody is available
  • Product/Service offering is not available on mobile devices

Support

  • Contact Support
    • When a customer calls support, it either takes a long time (e.g. 5+ rings, 5+ minutes waiting time) before someone answers the phone, or the call goes straight to voicemail.
    • When a customer uses a web chat tool, they get no answer or a delayed answer (e.g. wait 5 minutes before a chat response comes up)
  • Customer Support is not available 24/7/365

 

Every company should keep in mind that the ease of doing business with your company is about what the customer needs, and not what makes life easier for you!

 

While nowadays many businesses offer a multitude of ways for customers to connect with them, the most important differentiator is still a personal touch. Who doesn’t like to be treated like they are special? Note that a personal touch does not necessarily mean face-to-face contact: it might be a small notification about an online product training that the customer is interested in and that is now available. The objective here is to provide personalized and valuable information to a customer on a regular basis.

 

Now, let’s have a look at things that can help make your company easy to do business with.

 

Tasks

  • Review systems & processes to be able to respond faster to customer RFPs, questions, inquiries, complaints etc.
  • Reduce the number of people and/or steps involved in solving a problem for the customer (e.g. fewer touch points, fewer fields to fill out)
  • Investigate different CPQ Solutions with the help of an experienced CPQ expert

 

CPQ solutions are an excellent way to make your company a company that is “easy to do business with”. Why? Because they can address many of the negative business examples that are mentioned above.

 

How Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) solutions can help you become easier to do business with:

Examples by Route-to-Market

Sales Team

  • Guide Sales Reps with the least amount of questions to determine the product/service the customer needs
  • Guide Sales Reps to cross and upsell options
  • Guide Sales Reps regarding best Pricing (Profit/Margin) that they can offer to their customers

Channel Partners / Distributors

  • Offer the same user experience to your channel partners, sales team, and eCommerce customers. This simplifies communication in case something is not working as expected
  • Allow each channel partner to see “their prices”
  • Provide extensive “Help” (e.g. text, images, voice, video) to channel partners that don’t work with your CPQ tool on a daily basis

eCommerce

  • Enable product visualization to let users “see” what they select/configure
  • Provide extensive “Help” (e.g. text, images, voice, video, chat capability to contact you while they configure a product) so that a customer does not get stuck
  • Allow a named user to “save” multiple configurations for a limited time in the shopping cart. This allows you to send additional recommendations, tips & tricks and sales prices to online customers

 

While the maintenance of a CPQ solution does not impact the CPQ user, it is a very important cost consideration for every CPQ customer. It simply doesn’t make financial sense, in most cases, to have a completely different user experience for every Route-to-Market because it will only cause confusion. Here's an example:

If a sales rep sees a feature “Hard Disk Drive” for a product “Laptop”, but the channel partner does not see that feature, there will be confusion regarding why the channel partner does not see that feature and what he/she must do to see that feature. This becomes very confusing when a customer buys directly from your company and via channel partners, because they may expect a certain behavior that is simply not supported in the other Route-to-Market.

A key objective should be to reduce CPQ product model maintenance by having a common or at least aligned user experience, across all Routes-to-Market (as far as possible and desirable).

Nevertheless, the guiding principle should be to use Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) solutions and processes to make your company a company that's “easy to do business with”. This may also mean that you have to invest more in a CPQ solution and the integration of this CPQ solution with 3rd party systems (e.g. CRM, ERP, PLM). If it is done right it can pay great dividends! To check if you reached your objectives, you should put some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place before you move forward with any CPQ Project.

 

Want to know more? Contact Frank Sohn if you have any questions!

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