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How to be available to your customer 24/7 through just a digital solution

It is as important to nurture existing relationships with your customers as it is to make new sales and cater to new prospects. B2B (Business-to-Business) companies sometimes neglect this. B2B companies often have relationships more complicated than the B2C (Business-to-Consumer) ones. It is so because of the high order value and the complexity of the task at hand.

It is quite a task to be available to your customer 24/7 in any set-up, whether B2B or B2C. The COVID scenario totally changed the relationship of the companies with their customers in a B2B environment. This made B2B portals more beneficial and vital for the upcoming business. B2B customer portals add features and aid the business in enhancing operational efficiency, minimising expenses and making better relationships with dealers, distributors and suppliers.

What are B2B customer portals?

B2B portals are digital solutions that enable businesses to interact with each other in a digital environment. B2B customer portals provide a centre for B2B buyers where they can request support from their dedicated account executive, reorder items and manage billing and payment.

There are other services customers can also have access to:

A B2B customer web portal serves as an online platform that facilitates communication, collaboration, and transactions between businesses. The specific functions of a B2B customer web portal can vary depending on the industry and the needs of the businesses involved. Here are some common functions:

1. Order Management:

Order Placement: Customers can place orders directly through the portal.

Order Tracking: Real-time tracking of order status and shipment details.

Order History: Access to past orders for reference and reordering.

2. Product Catalogue:

Catalogue Browsing: Customers can browse through the products/services offered.

Product Details: Detailed information about each product, including specifications, pricing, and availability.

3. Account Management:

User Profiles: Businesses can manage user accounts with different levels of access and permissions.

Profile Customization: Users can update their information, preferences, and settings.

4. Quotation and Pricing:

Request for Quote (RFQ): Customers can submit RFQs for custom pricing.

Pricing Information: Display of negotiated prices, bulk discounts, and terms.

5. Collaboration and Communication:

Messaging: Secure communication channels for inquiries, support, and collaboration.

Notifications: Alerts for order status changes, promotions, or other relevant information.

6. Document Sharing:

Contracts and Agreements: Access to important documents such as contracts, agreements, and terms of service. 

Invoices and Statements: Electronic delivery of invoices and financial statements.

7. Inventory Management:

Stock Availability: Real-time information on product availability and stock levels.

Reorder Suggestions: Automated alerts or suggestions for reorder based on historical data.

8. Integration with ERP Systems:

Data Synchronisation: Integration with the customer’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for seamless data flow.

Automated Processes: Streamlining of business processes such as order processing and inventory management.

9. Customer Support:

Ticketing System: A system for raising and tracking support tickets.

FAQs and Help Center: Access to self-help resources for common queries.

10. Reporting and Analytics:

Sales Reports: Detailed reports on sales performance and trends.

User Activity Reports: Insights into user engagement and interactions.

11. Security and Compliance:

Secure Login: Authentication and authorization mechanisms to ensure secure access.

Compliance Features: Adherence to industry-specific regulations and standards.

Implementing a B2B customer web portal can enhance efficiency, transparency, and collaboration between businesses, contributing to a smoother and more productive business relationship.

Customer Expectations from B2B in this era

Customer expectations in the B2B space have evolved significantly over the years, driven by advancements in technology, changes in communication patterns, and the influence of B2C experiences. Here are some key factors contributing to the evolution of customer expectations in B2B and why businesses need to adapt to providing constant availability:

  1. Digital Transformation:

   Expectation: B2B customers now expect a seamless and digitised experience similar to what they encounter in their personal lives as consumers.

   Adaptation Need: Businesses must embrace digital transformation, incorporating technologies like online portals, e-commerce platforms, and automation to streamline processes and enhance accessibility.

  1. 24/7 Connectivity:

   Expectation: Customers expect to interact with B2B platforms and service providers at any time, irrespective of traditional business hours.

   Adaptation Need: B2B businesses need to ensure constant availability by providing online portals, automated customer service options, and responsive communication channels.

  1. Real-Time Information:

    Expectation: Instant access to real-time data on product availability, order status, and other relevant information is now a standard expectation.

   Adaptation Need: Implementing systems that provide up-to-the-minute information, such as inventory management systems, order tracking, and live customer support, is crucial.

  1. Personalization:

  Expectation: B2B customers expect personalised experiences tailored to their specific needs and preferences.

  Adaptation Need: Utilising customer data and analytics to offer personalised recommendations, pricing structures, and communication ensures a more engaging and satisfying customer experience.

  1. Multi-Channel Communication:

   Expectation: Customers prefer multiple channels for communication, including online portals, email, live chat, and social media.

   Adaptation Need: B2B businesses should diversify communication channels and integrate them seamlessly to meet customers where they are and provide timely responses.

  1. Efficient Order Fulfilment:

  Expectation: Timely and efficient order processing and fulfilment are essential for customer satisfaction.

   Adaptation Need: Automation in order management, inventory tracking, and supply chain processes can help B2B businesses meet demand promptly and accurately.

  1. Transparency and Accountability:

   Expectation: Customers now expect transparency in pricing, processes, and performance metrics from their B2B partners.

   Adaptation Need: B2B businesses should prioritise clear communication, providing detailed information about products, pricing, and delivery timelines. Additionally, maintaining accountability through service level agreements (SLAs) is crucial.

  1. Adoption of Self-Service Options:

   Expectation: B2B customers increasingly prefer self-service options for tasks like order placement, tracking, and issue resolution.

   Adaptation Need: Implementing user-friendly online portals and self-service tools reduces dependency on manual processes, empowering customers to manage their interactions independently.

In summary, B2B businesses need to adapt to providing constant availability by embracing digital transformation, implementing real-time systems, prioritising personalization, diversifying communication channels, ensuring efficient order fulfilment, promoting transparency, and offering self-service options.

Your B2B Customer web portal can transform the way your customer perceives you and operates the business. To understand more

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