B2B customer engagement: After the deal is done
For a communications service provider (CSP) selling products and services into the new B2B digital marketplace, speed and visibility are the cornerstones on which a successful sales process will be built. However, such a process will not be fully effective unless it has an efficient means of enabling upselling and cross selling once the initial sale has been made, captured and fulfilled. It is very likely that a B2B customer’s first order from a CSP will be based on a trade-off between what they need in terms of communications devices and services and cost. Over a period of time however, and particularly if the business is expanding, their needs will inevitably change and the CSP must be ready to take advantage of any opportunities to cross sell or up sell as they arise.
Once a B2B transaction has been completed the CSP will have stored all the information relating to the sale and will need to leverage it in order to up or cross sell to the customer as and when the opportunity arises because it is imperative is that the CSP knows what would best fit the customer in the light of what they have already bought. Using traditional manual methods, this is a long and time consuming process. For example, the customer is a large company with hundreds of retail outlets and the CSP has provided fixed and mobile connectivity, a range of software products including VPN and security and various mobile devices. To up or cross sell either at corporate or branch level, the usual process is for the sales account manager to go back through different phases of the deal and look at what’s been sold to that organisation or branch and see if they want device upgrades to newer models or if they would like to have more bandwidth as the business has grown. But what if the CSP could monitor the customer’s service usage and know if or when the customer has surpassed or got very close to the limit of their agreed bandwidth or the number of calls they can make on a specific airtime plan? That would mean the CSP would be able to notify the customer that they may want to increase their bandwidth or upgrade their service plan for a particular branch, thereby offering a proactive approach to up and cross selling.
Conversely, if the customer decides they need to upgrade some devices or change other aspects of the original deal, the usual process involves them contacting the CSP’s agent who then initiates a fresh order and the whole sales process is repeated. But what about if up and cross selling could not only be initiated by the CSP, but also by the customer on an off-the-shelf, self-service basis without having to contact the provider’s agent?
This was the thinking behind Amdocs’ cloud-based Sales Quote Order (SQO) platform. Designed with integrated real-time analytics and with automatic systems, it enables CSPs to provide their customers with up or cross sell functionality from a corporate level right down to a specific branch. The key to Amdocs’ offering is the B2B portal, which is the front end of the platform and which can be run on most devices from a desktop to a smartphone. It shows all the specific information that the CSP and the customer has including the original agreement with the CSP including all the lines, devices and services and anything else the customer bought under the terms of the original deal. It also shows an analysis of the service performance, all calls, messages and bandwidth usage as well as what kind of services have been consumed and any changes that were made to the agreement since it was first implemented.
By making this information available on an application, Amdocs supports the ability for the customer to up and cross sell independently, based on accurate and up to date information, in real time. If the customer wants to order a new smartphone or upgrade a service for example, they can do it through the dedicated B2B portal interface from whatever device they have to hand. So, instead of approaching the CSP with a request and having to deal with the entire sales cycle all over again, the customer can do everything in a self-service manner on their own thereby saving precious time and effort. From the CSP’s point of view, the order arrives not as a dedicated request, but as a sale. This is very different to the traditional approach whereby the customer contacts a sales manager to ask for a quote. By eliminating the CSP’s sales representative, Amdocs has made upgrading products and services a very simple and straightforward process for the customer.
Indeed, the cutting-edge B2B Portal is a feature that is unique to Amdocs, offering complete visibility not only of the complete sales process, but, with analytics integrated within the application it also means the customer doesn’t need to approach the CSP with any questions about the status of the services, how many of the services have been consumed, or how long it has been since the devices were upgraded. For the CSP, the ability to offer advice and recommendations based on the integrated analytics capabilities of the platform offers a highly effective means of upselling and has the additional benefit of combatting churn by keeping its customers satisfied.
The B2B Portal is a big differentiator for Amdocs and no other vendor is currently offering anything similar, despite massive demand for an automated sales platform with such functionality. To test the market, Amdocs recently carried out a survey with a leading European firm of analysts and asked to what extent this kind of capability is needed. The answers were unequivocal. Every respondent said they would like to have the self-service capability and to do all these activities on their own. Amdocs’ response has been to design the application from the starting point that anything the CSP’s salesperson would need to approach the customer would be immediately available from any device and that the customer would have the same view. They would both be looking at the same information and there wouldn’t be anything that the customer couldn’t do on their own as and when the need arose. While the simplicity of the concept belies the complexity and sophistication of the underlying platform, as with most ideas, the simple ones are usually the best.