As many individuals from the scientific community and the business world can agree, the interaction between customer and company has changed forever as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  While in the near future we may return to seeing some of the traditional methods of customer engagement become successful again, technology will enable companies to return to growth.

From the lens of a traditionally successful company in industry verticals like pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, consumer goods, or even automotive, the shift to online interactions and app-based communication has been a shift that most are not well equipped to handle.  Investments in technology are often littered with a set of evolving requirements, a litany of legacy systems, and a group of leaders who have not built or implemented tech solutions in the past.  Make no mistake that this is the norm rather than the anomaly.

The takeaway from this article is the important timing of starting the digital shift.  When the world has decided that in-person engagement through meetings, lunches, happy hours and customer visits are not viable options, finding ways to engage your customer through digital means is a bet worth taking.

While in the near future we may return to seeing some of the traditional methods of customer engagement become successful again, technology will enable companies to return to growth.

1.

Reach your customer with technology

A high touch customer in a one-time sale vs a high touch customer with repeated, predictable sales is a sales challenge that can be addressed by technology.  In the one-time sale, the sales rep is of the utmost importance as the driving force behind the purchase of that product depends on so many factors including the level of service they receive.  The effect of this service tends to drop off as the product becomes a commodity purchase over time.

We’ve found that regardless of the price of the product (as long as it is competitive), customers prioritize convenience and transparency after the first purchase.  Applying consumer sales tactics to enterprise and b2b purchases can be much more effective when you have the purchasing power literally in their hand.  Recurring orders, flash sales, subscription purchasing, special promotions, loyalty programs, etc., can all be implemented and drive engagement and ultimately more orders.

2.

Interact and incentivize your customer

Interaction through technology with your customer beyond when they are attempting to order is paramount in keeping your engagement high and company top of mind.  Finding new ways to prompt the customer for opting in to programs or promotions, or rewarding them for certain behaviors are easy ways to implement.

It is also important to clearly define what the roles of the different players are at your target customers.  A great example is in the world of pharmaceutical sales.  A doctor who owns a medical practice might be legally responsible for product and want to be able to see the ordering history and trending of purchases, but the front desk might actually be more responsible for placing those orders, managing the discounts/rebates and ordering on demand for patient load.  The clear delineation between these roles can keep each persona interactions unique, and incentivize them differently.   

3.

Keep your customer engaged

Enterprise/b2b sales have long been dry and emotionless transactions required out of a necessity to run their business.  In the world of tech, changing the messaging, tone and design around interaction with your enterprise customers can be the difference maker.  Rolling out those fun, witty and informative snippets of information can be watered down and reinterpreted by people down the communication chain, but tech can provide the direct channel to the customer outside of all other noise.

We’ve found that the implementation (both technically and operationally) of a live chat experience has been incredible for b2b sales as often the questions require a phone call.  These calls take time, result in voicemail or robo answering, and are hard to schedule based on the schedule of many accounts.  The chat experience provides a less stressful way to interact with an expected resolution time that is more reasonable for both parties.  It allows you to scale a customer service team with many less people to address a much larger audience and gives peace of mind to your customer that keeps them coming back for more.

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