Tuesday Apr 08, 2014

3 Secrets to Innovation...and why we believe we were were recognized by an independent analyst firm By David Vap

Innovation starts with seeing things differently than others. It starts with looking at a problem, and finding a way to dramatically change for the better.

Benjamin Franklin knew that. Ben wasn’t just a great visionary, he was a practical experimenter. He focused on needs—such as saving lives—when he invented the lightning rod. He understood the complex nature of electricity, and transformed that knowledge into a real, practical solution that helped everyone. He said it best, “well done is better than well said.”

That’s why Benjamin Franklin inspires us. While our innovation focus is a little different, we value connecting the dots between seeing a possibility and doing something about it. Customer Service is mission critical, and it’s hard to do really well. Real people are impacted every day when they can’t get their needs met – from the serious to the whimsical. From the need to know when your medication shipment arrives at your house to returning that shirt that was a size too small.

Our 3 secrets of innovation? 1) Focus on making what’s hard simple. 2) Solve real problems for real people. 3) Don’t just spin a good vision. Do something about it.

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2014 B2B Commerce Survey Reveals B2B Businesses Continue to Struggle With Complexity While Increasing Focus on the Customer to Drive Growth

The results are in!  We surveyed B2B commerce IT and business professionals to see where their organizations have invested in the last year, challenges they are facing, and key investment areas for 2014 and beyond.  Here are some of my key take-aways from this year’s survey:

Complexity grows in 2014 as businesses strive to increase market share
B2B organizations have always operated in complex environments – even before the internet came along.  Now having to contend with new and growing digital channels opens up new forms of complexity. 28% of survey respondents support 10 + brands / websites online and 31% support 5 + languages adding to the complexity of their business.  Complexity across pricing, products, channels, online experiences, and back-end systems all remain a challenge for businesses selling to other businesses through digital channels with 98% of respondents dealing with complexity in their org. 

Online channel drives revenue in 2013 BUT is expected to take an even bigger piece of the pie in 2014
There is still a lot of opportunity for growth with only 39% of respondents seeing 20% or more of their revenue coming from the digital touch points.  Survey respondents agree with 86% expecting at least 5-10% growth online in 2014.  But, how will businesses achieve growth in their online channel?  Many respondents believe that their customers are looking for key capabilities such as custom pricelists, search & navigation, and mobile web/apps when buying online.  To provide these features B2B organizations are making a higher investment in their commerce infrastructure and multi-channel tools. 

Customer satisfaction not only a priority in 2014, but a key success metric
Growing market share was the top priority in 2013 and still is for 2014, but other company-centric priorities of 2013, such as growing profit margins, have shifted to include more customer-focused areas such as customer loyalty and retention and increasing the cross-channel experience.  For example, only 8% of respondents said customer loyalty and retention was their top area of focus in 2013, but 45% said it was going to be one of their top priorities in 2014.  And, 28% of respondents say they measure customer loyalty as a key measure of success.   The impact that B2C experiences are having on B2B expectations still remains important in 2014 with 77% of respondents agreeing that customer expectations have changed due to B2C practices. 

Mobile is now table stakes for customer experience, but not yet driving significant direct revenue
Mobile is no longer a nice to have in B2B but is beginning to be a must have to meet customer expectations.  40% of respondents said that mobile is a key capability B2B buyers need but only 2% of respondents said that mobile is drove significant revenue in 2013.   I predict that mobile will begin to be a key revenue driver for B2B commerce in 2014.   Do you agree?  

Want to see the complete survey results, click here to join a live webcast April 16th.
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