Certain appearances are deceptive by design. For instance, the simplicity of an online transaction masks the interactions taking place behind the scene. Customers only see one logo and use one communication channel on the front, but upon the completion of a purchase online, they are indirectly dealing with a network of B2Bs. This is kept from the customers because if they are made to deal with all the complexity by themselves, you are driving them away with an overstretched and fragmented experience. But when something goes wrong with their transaction, the veil lifts, revealing the back-end of different B2Bs, who are often unable to support their clients in serving their customers.
The e-Commerce boom has influenced consumer behaviour like never before. Economics taught us that it was price that drove demand. Now, we are learning how convenience drives demand even more.
In a B2C context, convenience lies in faster delivery of goods and services with minimal interactions with the customer. They are now placing orders based on the timeliness of the delivery — whether their demand called for a good or a service, and whether it was to be delivered instantly or scheduled for another time. But the fact remains that a disruption of such magnitude can be felt at the B2B end of the supply chain as well.
Buyers in the B2B space have come to expect what ‘end-customers’ have grown accustomed to in the digital B2C space, especially in the case of the services sector. Businesses usually employ B2B service providers with year-long contracts for services that range from repair operations to lead generation. Nowadays, the same tasks are being lent out to freelancers, for reasons like cost and risk savings, variable demand, and the limited payroll.
Take the case of hotels and hospitality businesses. They have begun to use on-demand handymen for repair operations, such as a broken pipe. Also, for tourists, they bring in guides for sightseeing. Yes, they definitely “expect” tourists, but they do not know when or how many of them would need such services. Hence, these guides act as separate entities from these businesses and are called upon demand. The hotel would want the service executive visit them between a specific time window, and even sort out the appropriate skills required for the service. Typically, they employ a series of phone-calls to the service providers, then figure out the best-suited executive for the task at hand, checking if the selected executive is available or not, negotiate a schedule, followed by final confirmation.
An HR executive would no longer want to dwell on the intricacies of a pre-signed contract to make the next move in case of such demands because their end-customer would be expecting immediate results. Even in the case of on-demand services, the company has to ensure whether the service executive is available on the company schedule — not their own. If not, it can pose a problem, because if there is no Plan B, there is no way out.
The provider here is up against the task of scheduling and monitoring said executives, which may prove difficult with the variable demand and the aforementioned factors. Therein lies the need for a system that could offer the best out of a service provider for improved customer experience.
The difference here lies in the fact that the customer’s side involves an entire branch of people, as opposed to one person. The experience compromised for one could compromise it for the rest.
Locus’ Serviceability Tech enables your B2B service to offer all the advantages, and be as easy to do business with, like the best of what consumers avail in online and self-service solutions. Avail easy scheduling based on demand, serve more clients on a daily basis, and make the most out of your resources, while saving on time and fuel costs. It is time to enhance what is special about your business and the experience of doing business with you, instead of hushing it down through cost-cutting.
The term ‘end-customer’ is veiled in technicality. It is generally used to distinguish the person who actually uses the good or service from those who are involved in other stages of its development, production, and distribution. When things go wrong, the pressure is first felt at the end of a B2B service provider. It is usually because such systems are designed for businesses, not people — a notion stemming from a belief that B2B providers do not have end-customers. The solution to this is to treat businesses like people. A supply chain is but a cascade of end-customers.
In the next issue in our B2B series, we talk about the influence of the ‘empowered customer’ era on the distribution of goods, and how Locus can help you make the most out of it.