A great B2B customer portal can help you dominate your industry
Everywhere you turn it seems that business leaders are talking about user experience. Marketers are spending boatloads of money with agencies to build the next-generation “customer experience” on the corporate website. Unfortunately, they are forgetting one thing…the customer experience to actually order your product.
While B2C companies have learned this lesson the hard way, most B2B companies are just starting to wake up and realize that a great customer portal is no longer a luxury. It’s necessary for survival. You would be amazed at the uninspiring portals which billion-dollar companies have been providing to their dealers, distributors and key customers.
A great customer portal is no longer a luxury…It’s a necessity.”
The CEO of a Fortune 500 manufacturer recently told me, “our customers are still old-fashioned and prefer a handshake to a click”. He went on to tell me that they have a customer portal but less than 5% of their customers actually use it. After taking a look at his customer portal I sent him a note back highlighting many of the same topics I have outlined below:
Top 10 Reasons Your Customers are NOT using your online portal:
1. The user experience is dreadful. – Well, I was not that brash but certainly let the CEO know that the design and interface of the portal reminded me of an excel spreadsheet. Forget guided navigation…most products didn’t even have images.
2. Your site was built by programmers. – No question that a strong dev team is critical but the front end user interface must be professionally designed.
3. The search tool is worthless. – This is problem #1 for most complex sites today. If they cant find it quickly with a good search, they will go elsewhere.
4. Personalization. – Too many sites are built for retail consumers and not buyers. The winning B2B site needs to be built for the buyer persona giving them the specific tools they need to do their job faster.
5. It’s slooooooow. – Performance plagues many customer portals. The customer is used to waiting less than a second on other websites.
6. Online help? – If you are selling a complex product it is imperative that you provide a quick way to get online help. Chat is often a great option.
7. Reviews. – Studies are showing that reviews in both B2B and B2C sites are a key factor in closing business online.
8. Better content. – Too many customer portals put a sku, a picture and a 42 character description from their ERP on the website. Up your game here.
9. Better communication. – One of the key reasons Amazon is successful is because of what they do after the sale. Emails and texts about orders, shipping and delivery are keys to order satisfaction.
10. It doesn’t work on my phone. – Consider moving this one to the top of your list. The next generation of users may not even use a computer
Unfortunately none of these issues are resolved with a quick fix. Often it takes a strong digital leader and partners who know your market and users. Solve these issues and you will find that your customers are not only willing to place orders online. They probably prefer it.
(The author Brian Strojny is co-founder of Insite Software and has provided strategic digital ecommerce leadership to B2B organizations since 1999.)