B2B eCommerce in a Time of Pandemic and Beyond: Are You Listening?

The global COVID-19 pandemic will change the nature of work in ways that we are just starting to understand. One of the changes that has been written about extensively is the increased importance of eCommerce and providing more (and better) self-service capabilities. Statistics show that B2C eCommerce increased 200-300% in China, and this trend is reflected globally as the pandemic has expanded.

For B2B sellers, some companies are now seeing the challenge with not having invested in eCommerce and other digital self service capabilities. Others who have started down the path are seeing that there is more to be done to better support their customers at a time when face-to-face selling is not possible. The ideas that we share in the coming weeks help you address an increased workload on your call centers and other ‘people-based’ selling and support motions.

We’ll be publishing a series of three blog posts that share our point of view on how to make meaningful progress through better listening, better engaging, and better converting customers. Our goal is to provide plenty of ideas that can be implemented without a large budget (or in some cases, any budget). This week’s post focuses on ways in which you can better ‘listen’ to your customers.

One of the quickest, easiest ways to get started on your digital journey (with or without an eCommerce presence) is to implement chat. Since the start of the outbreak KPI’s used to measure call center effectiveness (Average Hold Time, Average Hold Time, Abandonment Rate, etc.) have risen dramatically.

One of the most effective ways to handle increased call volume is by leveraging live chat. There are numerous low cost, or even no cost, options that you can implement in a matter of hours. Chat enables a call center rep, who can only handle one call at a time, to handle four separate chat sessions simultaneously.

Site Analytics
Are you reviewing your site analytics? As more buyers leverage the online channel, it’s critical to understand how those buyers are navigating your site. Do you have a good understanding of how site navigation might be changing? Are customers purchasing different products or services because of COVID? What is changing with your buyers’ behavior?

First, ensuring proper coverage in your analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, allows you to visualize what customers are interested in and measure KPI’s, including conversion rates and cart abandonment. Secondly, tools like Hotjar provide a heat map that shows how people are navigating your site. This tool also enables you to record user navigation on your site to better understand where or why people are dropping out of a buying flow.

Do you have a structured approach to obtain feedback from current and prospective customers? Do you provide the ability to request contextual feedback on your site so customers can tell you where and why they are having challenges navigating your site? Do you call customers to check in and gather feedback? In this time of working remotely, having people who have relationships with customers pick up the phone to gather feedback can be a valuable way to both maintain relationships and gather valuable feedback.

Sales teams provide the ability to listen to customers and respond in real time.  Digital channels lack the same human touch.  In this global pandemic, customer needs and behaviors have most likely changed and it’s important that you use the tools and techniques above to better understand the opportunities to be better serve your customers in ways that drive revenue and customer satisfaction.

Please reach out to me directly if you have any questions or want to discuss any of these topics in more detail.

Austin Lowry
email: austin.lowry@piercewashington.com
phone: 901.848.6015

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