No doubt about it, self- service is here to stay. In our previous blog post on the topic “Outsource Your Sales to Your Customers. They’ll Love it” we pointed out the inescapable trend in consumer behavior. Many customers value and prefer self-service channels to human interactions. The reasons are numerous, and include the efficiency of the interaction, satisfaction of being in control, ability to “time shift” the service experience to fit the customer’s schedule, and the diminishing need for customers to form traditional “ relationships” with businesses.
This has been a hard pill to swallow for many B2B businesses, who fear loss of control. Rather than lamenting this loss of control, however, B2B businesses should embrace it and realizing that enabling self-service support is good for business, good for customer satisfaction and good for sales!
First and foremost, according to Forrester research business buyers who go online and order for themselves have a higher average order value. Forrester found that the offline customers who changed to an online purchase environment spent more money per transaction after the switch.
The same research also shows that customers are less expensive to support once they migrate online. By spending less time on tasks such as basic re-ordering, salespeople have new freedom to spend their valuable time building new relationships, prospecting other accounts, or pursuing other high value activities such as training and more premium sales.
A recent study by the marketing leadership council showed that in a B2B buying context, customers completed over 50% of their buying process before ever engaging a supplier sales rep (and the upper limit was as high as 70%).
Online self-service also allows firms to attract and service a new class of customers, who are profitable to them only as online customers. It wouldn’t make sense for the company to dedicate sales resources to personally call on this group of smaller-volume purchasers. But in a self-serve environment, these relationships can be very low maintenance and ultimately profitable.
Bottom line, self-serve is a win-win for everyone. Customers who go online and order for themselves are happier, and have higher order value. For retailers who do a good job and give them a good experience, (caveat: easier said than done, the bar set by Amazon and others is high) they will be more satisfied, more loyal, and more likely to refer your company to others. Your sales team will like it because they can be more efficient, sell more product, service more accounts, and focus on the highest value activities with their time.
If you want to check out our recent whitepaper on this topic, click here to download.