We've been having the wrong conversations.
We shouldn't be talking about matching one experience to the other or trying to funnel our customers down a particular buying path.
What we should be talking about is how to create a single, seamless, customer-led experience, and how to get that experience into the market quickly.
Because the truth is there is no delineation between offline and online experiences.
Think: One Seamless Experience
Think about Uber. As a user, you start with an online experience and move into the physical world quickly and easily. That’s the new paradigm for offline and online experiences. It’s seamless. It’s one. There is no difference.
The experience hasn’t changed from the time when you order a ride to when you get in the car. The experience simply exists seamlessly and easily.
Take Amazon Same Day Delivery or Google Express. You can place an order and receive it in the same day just as if you took a trip to the store. Zappos delivers fast service with some perks. Customers have access to a huge inventory, free one business day shipping and a full year to return items free no matter the reason.
These kind of experiences are forcing change in the marketplace. In a recent survey by Progress, 86 percent of respondents said they have two years to make inroads in digital transformation before suffering from financial or competitive consequences, yet only 34 percent believe their business is effectively managing and utilizing digital content and channels.
There is increasingly little difference between the expectations of B2C and B2B customers. Today, we operate in a people-to-people or P2P market. The experience is driven by digital. Customers expect more. They expect transparency, personalization, accessibility and ease of use.
Create Touchpoints That Engage
A large textile manufacturer whose sales primarily derive from large brick-and-mortar retailers built a community across channels and started targeting consumers directly with loyalty-strengthening initiatives. Something as simple as making patterns available on its site provided customers a way to engage with the brand, even if they make a purchase at a retail partner.
It’s not about offline and online shopping. It’s about creating an experience that encourages engagement and loyalty.
Initiatives like these need to occur consistently across channels. Once leaders find the right recipe for engagement, they can operationalize and scale. The levels of increased interaction and engagement, primarily driven by the customer, are erasing the traditional line between content and commerce. The new opportunity is to deliver B2C-like experiences to B2B customers, and to deliver better value, faster.
Time-to-Value Requires a Mindshift
B2B leaders need to consider not only how engagement should happen, but also how to get solutions into market quickly. A recent Forrester blog says, “Customers are willing to rapidly try, use, and then possibly discard content, apps, and services in a world of seemingly infinite choices.”
The blog continues that giving your team “real insights into the realities of today’s customers and disruptors puts a face and imperative to fast — it affirms the customer-obsessed culture needed in today’s market.”
Time-to-market solutions require a shift in the way you implement and execute. Designing for perfection will delay your ability to deliver value quickly.
Design, build and run it now. Make it good — really good — but don’t sacrifice time to make it perfect. The risks of waiting for perfection far outweigh the potential of missing the opportunity.
Working Iteratively Gets Results Sooner
To realize value sooner, you must work with a cross-functional team that can execute lean and iterative methodologies. Work on a solution, get feedback from your champions and iterate.
This approach produces tangible results sooner with minimized risk.
Siteworx team using agile methodology
By working in bite-size, two-week sprints, you will see and realize incremental progress. Sprints also allow you to work more closely with your design and development team — and your customers — to get the feedback you need to improve the solution.
Using data-driven insights from analytics, your team can adjust and adapt to market reactions quickly, mitigating risk and avoiding unexpected results. The result is that your in-market offerings become customer-led, and the lines between content and commerce blur.
The key is to get in market fast with experiences that are good, not perfect, learn directly from the market and constantly optimize the offering.
Accelerated, customer-led time-to-market solutions are the future. As Forrester states, “fast becomes more important than perfect,” but of course not at the expense of quality.
B2B companies that insist on focusing on perfection run the risk of falling further behind the competition. Companies that focus on customers and speed will win.