Is The Digital Customer Experience Relevant To B2B Brands?

Jennifer Arnold

Last year SAP Australia/New Zealand released the 2016 Digital Customer Experience research, which investigates consumers’ views about the quality of digital customer experiences they receive from local consumer brands and identifies the impact of this on brand loyalty and advocacy. In sharing our research with SAP customers, I meet with many business-to-business (B2B) organisations.

Often the first question I’m asked is, “Our customers are other businesses, so is this research relevant to us?” And my response is always, “Yes, because until Artificial Intelligence runs the world and all future business engagements are conducted chatbot to chatbot, your customer on the other side of the screen isn’t a business, it’s a real person, who is also a consumer.”

Our research with 6,000 ANZ consumers found they’re nearly 5 x more likely to remain loyal to a consumer brand if it provides them delightful digital experiences.

In a business setting, employees typically will have less or no choice about the businesses they have to engage with compared to the wide choice they have as an individual consumer. Therefore, we expect in the B2B segment the impact of an individual employee’s experience on brand loyalty will be less critical to the brand’s business.

However, based on conversations with customers and partners, we’ve found the quality of the digital experience does affect how an employee chooses to engage with a business, which impacts productivity, cost, and efficiency. For example, if a manufacturer wants customers to use an online ordering tool but the tool doesn’t work properly or is hard to use, the customer’s employees may choose to work around it by emailing or phoning in orders. This can increase the processing time and result in the manufacturer having to double-handle the order information to enter it into its system.

When it comes to the impact on brand advocacy, nearly 70% of ANZ consumers would be willing to recommend consumer brands that provide them with a delightful digital experience.

The feedback we receive from SAP’s customers also suggests that the impact on brand advocacy is slightly less for B2B organisations than for B2C brands. This is primarily because large numbers of consumers share feedback about their experiences and recommendations on broad social media platforms, and again, average employees often can’t choose the companies with which their employer does business.

That’s not to say advocacy is not important to B2B companies. An increasing number of B2B organisations, including SAP, use the Net Promotor Score rating, which measures advocacy as a key indicator for customer satisfaction and business health. Aspects of customer satisfaction typically measured include service quality, communication and responsiveness, customer support, the ease of doing business with the company, fit of products and services, and handling of issues. If these aspects aren’t well supported by a positive digital experience, customer satisfaction and the willingness to promote or advocate for the company will be impacted.

The size of a company may also matter when it comes to the the impact of the digital experience on loyalty and advocacy. For smaller B2B organisations, the impact may be greater because their customers are less likely to be locked into long-term contracts and would have more choice of providers, so risk of customer churn is greater.

Consider this: If you have a regular print supplier for your company documents, proposals, posters, and so on, and their online systems for booking, tracking your orders, and exchanging and checking artwork don’t work to your satisfaction, would you stay with them or go to a supplier that provides a better-functioning system? Which of them would you recommend to a friend or colleague who needs print services?

Improved loyalty and advocacy aren’t the only objectives organisations expect from improving customer experiences. More and more I’m asked to share our Digital Customer Experience research findings with our B2B customers and discuss what they can do to improve experiences because enhanced customer engagement is central to organisations’ overall digital transformation strategies. These transformations involve adapting their products and services and creating new channels to sell to and support consumers – all increasingly digital-only.

This is expanding the customer experience conversations outside of the marketing and customer service departments into all business functions and levels. The customer experience – especially the digital customer experience – is relevant and increasingly critical to every part of the business in every brand in the market.

If you’re from a B2B organisation, are you trying to improve your digital customer experience? If so, what are the most critical steps you’re taking? What changes do your customers want to see?

For more information about improving your digital customer experiences, read our 2016 Digital Customer Experience research paper and join us for the discussion at our four-city Art of the Possible roadshow across ANZ starting 7 March.


Jennifer Arnold

About Jennifer Arnold

Jennifer joined SAP in May 2015 as Vice President and Head of Marketing, Australia and New Zealand. She is a member of the APJ Marketing Leadership Team as well as the ANZ Senior Executive Team (SET). She leads the ANZ Marketing team in supporting sales goals across SAP’s portfolio, building SAP’s brand and reputation ANZ, and driving SAP’s integrated marketing execution. Jennifer joined SAP from Unisys where she spent nearly nine years, most recently hold dual roles of Enterprise Services Global Portfolio Marketing Director and Enterprise Services Practice Business Consultant. She was responsible for developing and delivering global integrated demand generation campaigns and sales enablement materials. She also developed and rolled out the company’s global sales personas program. In her consulting role, she worked with clients to design persona-based business and technology strategies and develop enterprise services analytics projects. Prior to her global roles, Jennifer was the Unisys Asia Pacific Marketing Director, managing a team delivering campaigns focused on IT services, security, infrastructure and applications across the region. Prior to Unisys,

5 Ways Field Service Supports Top-Notch Customer Service

Lisa James

Sales organizations are often well-oiled machines, delivering the right product at the right time to customers. Keeping customers happy after the sale, by providing customer care that positively reflects the promises made during sales and by the larger brand, can be more challenging. Field service either delivers on these promises or undermines these efforts and brings down customer satisfaction.

Successful field service delivers the right people to the right jobs and is backed by the right parts and knowledge to get the job done. Ultimately, customers should consistently get the results they need, regardless of whether service is over the phone, in the field, or via chat, online messaging, social media, or email.

To build a successful field service model that provides excellent customer service throughout the customer lifecycle, put these five top field service considerations on your agenda.

1. Proactive service

A proactive field service model offers more to the customer, reducing the time between insight and action, while providing greater product knowledge for maintenance and repair. From knowing what service level agreements are needed to having remote sensors tip off field service techs when a repair or maintenance action is required, proactive field service stays ahead of the customer. This intelligence relieves the customer of work and increases satisfaction with service.

Field service technicians encounter unpredictable situations – stalled equipment, overheating equipment, malfunctioning systems, and insufficient safety protection. Even when unpredictable problems arise, having customer insight and data accessible to field service more ably addresses any issues and prevents further equipment damage.

2. Transparency

Scheduling field service is often the first hurdle customers and managers have to overcome. Nothing creates customer dissatisfaction faster than repair delays, which cause operational outages and lost revenue. In oil and gas, for example, idle equipment can cost millions. The right systems create transparency between customers, technicians, managers, and other key parties, so there are no mysteries about why a tech is running late or a part isn’t yet delivered. A tool that gives customers, technicians, and managers insight into scheduling goes a long way to smoothing out scheduling problems, both in terms of technician workload and reducing customer wait times.

By offering your customers the ability to schedule appointments based on their availability, then syncing that appointment to the technicians’ and managers’ calendars, removes a significant roadblock to customer satisfaction.

3. On-site and off-site collaboration

Providing links between off-site field service technicians and in-office expertise and data is critical. At a customer site, field technician calls plagued by limited access to customer service history, parts, and repairs knowledge and predictive maintenance data are more costly for the customer. The faster and more effective field service can deliver customer service, the happier the customer.

Create systems to streamline and automate collaboration between mobile technicians, managers, and in-office experts. Give technicians access to service history, equipment knowledge, and all the tools they need to make the repairs and move on to the next customer. Get control of field service by leveraging technology to create bridges between knowledge silos within an organization.

4. Flexibility

The onsite technician is the first point of in-person contact with the customer. The ability to access service data, check stock, take surveys, generate billing, get relevant signatures, access knowledge, and communicate directly with the right people at the right time requires access to the right tools. Having the flexibility to respond across channels to real-time issues is invaluable.

Field service technicians who can access needed data only when online, but who are outside the reach of wireless connections, deep within the bowels of an HVAC system, are stuck. A technician armed with the mobile tools they need, regardless of the ability to access online resources, is better prepared to meet whatever contingency arises.

5. Actionable performance improvements

Excellent customer service that’s constantly improving and responding to changing circumstances in the wider industry and within a customer’s organization can identify, address, and fix logjams in short order. Identifying KPIs and measuring them consistently is one thing. Turning them into actionable performance improvements is the more difficult task.

Measuring service delivery (time onsite, customer satisfaction, predictive and preventive maintenance outcomes, cost of repairs over time, field service safety, etc.) against targets highlights problematic areas, people, and products and helps organizations identify solutions more quickly.

Resolving field service technician performance problems, critical equipment supply issues, ongoing safety concerns, and systemic service delivery revenue shortfalls are only a few of the issues field service organizations face. Creating the right KPIs with the right feedback loops increases efficiency and ultimately increases customer satisfaction.

Getting control of field service management isn’t easy. Taking actions on these considerations lays the groundwork for operational improvements and increased customer loyalty and happiness.

Artificial intelligence is a key element in customer experience delivery. To use it successfully, try these 5 Steps to Your Customer’s Heart with Emotionally Aware Computing.


The Difference Between Advocates And Influencers (And Why You Need Both)

Tiffany Rowe

These days, marketing is filled with flashy buzzwords: growth hacking, datafication, value exchange, brand essence, storytelling, thought leadership, and more. Two terms that have enjoyed surprisingly long lives as marketing jargon are advocate and influencer, and their longevity hints at their importance in a business’s marketing strategy. Unfortunately, many small business owners and young marketing teams don’t understand the difference between these vital marketing roles, and either use the terms interchangeably or ignore one and focus on the other.

However, both advocates and influencers—along with a handful of other marketing heroes—are integral to a wildly successful marketing campaign. This guide will help small businesses understand the subtle details of each role and why they absolutely need to attract both.

What influencers do

The definition of an influencer is relatively simple: someone with the ability to influence large numbers of people. In the past, celebrities were the primary influencers, but these days, anyone with a sizeable social media following may work as influencers. For example, prominent YouTubers like Tyler Oakley and JennaMarbles, popular Instagrammers like Hayden Williams and Ella Mills, and productive bloggers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Jessica Stein all have found fortune, fame, and brands eager to partner with them.

Influencers are useful because they come replete with extensive audiences and established power. Fans are more likely to become interested in products their favorite influencers support, which gives brands greater opportunities to make sales. Though consumers may be motivated by different reasons—enhanced trust in influencer messages, increased desire to emulate influencer lifestyles, etc.—it is generally easier to move consumers through the sales funnel when they find their way into it thanks to influencers. In fact, 60 percent of YouTube followers have made purchases based on endorsements from YouTube stars.

Influencers are paid, but that doesn’t mean attracting the right ones is easy. Influencers have brands just like companies do, and it is important that these brands complement one another. After all, an automotive business would see little effect from a partnership with a fashion influencer. What’s more, business leaders should try to attract influencers with the largest audiences to increase their messages’ scope. Useful tools for locating and connecting with influencers include BuzzSumo and Follerwonk. It is also beneficial to have an influencer marketing platform to better manage existing partnerships.

What advocates do

Though advocates lack the fame of influencers, they have been shown to have exponentially more influence on consumer behavior. Advocates are highly satisfied customers who are willing and eager to spread the word of your business to friends, family, and strangers. In fact, advocates can appear in the wild, already promoting products with no prompting from businesses whatsoever.

Still, businesses are finding ways to encourage customers to become advocates. Loyalty and referral programs are among the most effective because they reward customers for returning to the brand and suggesting the brand to their friends and family. Nielsen found that 92 percent of consumers trust advice from fellow consumers, confirming the long-held belief that word-of-mouth is the most effective marketing strategy. Generating and maintaining consumer advocates is the best way to encourage natural advocacy of a brand.

The most important goal of a company looking to increase its number of advocates is to create a superior product; the second most important goal is creating superb customer service. Customers are more likely to engage in advocacy programs if they are perpetually satisfied with a business. Additionally, companies should have plenty of outlets for customers to share their positive experiences; social media accounts are crucial, especially those most common with the company’s audiences. Finally, businesses should have ample service channels, including feedback portals and live chats, perhaps through a service like Tagove.

What other important marketing movers and shakers do

Influencers and advocates may be the most important marketing movers and shakers, but they aren’t the only ones. For example, businesses might also want to make use of affiliates, who are similar to influencers but who receive bonuses for each visitor or customer brought in. Affiliates tend to have specific codes, like “Insta230,” that provide consumers small discounts and companies more data on affiliate impact.

Additionally, businesses might develop personas to help them craft more targeted marketing messages. Though personas are rarely real customers, they represent different audiences—including those businesses want to avoid. Being aware of different groups’ backgrounds, needs, and interests is vital in developing a strong marketing strategy.

For more strategies that boost your brand, see Your Best Brand Advocates: Employees With Passion.





Tiffany Rowe

About Tiffany Rowe

Tiffany Rowe is a marketing administrator who assists in contributing resourceful content. Tiffany prides herself in her ability to provide high-quality content that readers will find valuable.

The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage

Justin Somaini and Dan Wellers


The cost of data breaches will reach US$2.1 trillion globally by 2019—nearly four times the cost in 2015.

Cyberattacks could cost up to $90 trillion in net global economic benefits by 2030 if cybersecurity doesn’t keep pace with growing threat levels.

Cyber insurance premiums could increase tenfold to $20 billion annually by 2025.

Cyberattacks are one of the top 10 global risks of highest concern for the next decade.

Companies are collaborating with a wider network of partners, embracing distributed systems, and meeting new demands for 24/7 operations.

But the bad guys are sharing intelligence, harnessing emerging technologies, and working round the clock as well—and companies are giving them plenty of weaknesses to exploit.

  • 33% of companies today are prepared to prevent a worst-case attack.
  • 25% treat cyber risk as a significant corporate risk.
  • 80% fail to assess their customers and suppliers for cyber risk.

The ROI of Zero Trust

Perimeter security will not be enough. As interconnectivity increases so will the adoption of zero-trust networks, which place controls around data assets and increases visibility into how they are used across the digital ecosystem.

A Layered Approach

Companies that embrace trust as a competitive advantage will build robust security on three core tenets:

  • Prevention: Evolving defensive strategies from security policies and educational approaches to access controls
  • Detection: Deploying effective systems for the timely detection and notification of intrusions
  • Reaction: Implementing incident response plans similar to those for other disaster recovery scenarios

They’ll build security into their digital ecosystems at three levels:

  1. Secure products. Security in all applications to protect data and transactions
  2. Secure operations. Hardened systems, patch management, security monitoring, end-to-end incident handling, and a comprehensive cloud-operations security framework
  3. Secure companies. A security-aware workforce, end-to-end physical security, and a thorough business continuity framework

Against Digital Armageddon

Experts warn that the worst-case scenario is a state of perpetual cybercrime and cyber warfare, vulnerable critical infrastructure, and trillions of dollars in losses. A collaborative approach will be critical to combatting this persistent global threat with implications not just for corporate and personal data but also strategy, supply chains, products, and physical operations.

Download the executive brief The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage.



Unleash The Digital Transformation

Kadamb Goswami

The world has changed. We’ve seen massive disruption on multiple fronts – business model disruption, cybercrime, new devices, and an app-centric world. Powerful networks are crucial to success in a mobile-first, cloud-first world that’s putting an ever-increasing increasing amount of data at our fingertips. With the Internet of Things (IoT) we can connect instrumented devices worldwide and use new data to transform business models and products.


Disruption comes in many forms. It’s not big or scary, it’s just another way of describing change and evolution. In the ’80s it manifested as call centers. Then, as the digital landscape began to take shape, it was the Internet, cloud computing … now it’s artificial intelligence (AI).

Digital transformation

Digital transformation means different things to different companies, but in the end I believe it will be a simple salvation that will carry us forward. If you Bing (note I worked for Microsoft for 15 years before experiencing digital transformation from the lens of the outside world), digital transformation, it says it’s “the profound and accelerating transformation of business activities, processes, competencies, and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way.” (I’ll simplify that; keep reading.)

A lot of today’s digital transformation ideas are ripped straight from the scripts of sci-fi entertainment, whether you’re talking about the robotic assistants of 2001: A Space Odyssey or artificial intelligence in the Star Trek series. We’re forecasting our future with our imagination. So, let’s move on to why digital transformation is needed in our current world.

Business challenges

The basic challenges facing businesses today are the same as they’ve always been: engaging customers, empowering employees, optimizing operations, and reinventing the value offered to customers. However, what has changed is the unique convergence of three things:

  1. Increasing volumes of data, particularly driven by the digitization of “things” and heightened individual mobility and collaboration
  1. Advancements in data analytics and intelligence to draw actionable insight from the data
  1. Ubiquity of cloud computing, which puts this disruptive power in the hands of organizations of all sizes, increasing the pace of innovation and competition

Digital transformation in plain English

Hernan Marino, senior vice president, marketing, & global chief operating officer at SAP, explains digital transformation by giving specific industry examples to make it simpler.

Automobile manufacturing used to be the work of assembly lines, people working side-by-side literally piecing together, painting, and churning out vehicles. It transitioned to automation, reducing costs and marginalizing human error. That was a business transformation. Now, we are seeing companies like Tesla and BMW incorporate technology into their vehicles that essentially make them computers on wheels. Cameras. Sensors. GPS. Self-driving vehicles. Syncing your smartphone with your car.

The point here is that companies need to make the upfront investments in infrastructure to take advantage of digital transformation, and that upfront investment will pay dividends in the long run as technological innovations abound. It is our job to collaboratively work with our customers to understand what infrastructure changes need to be made to achieve and take advantage of digital transformation.

Harman gives electric companies as another example. Remember a few years ago, when you used to go outside your house and see the little power meter spinning as it recorded the kilowatts you use? Every month, the meter reader would show up in your yard, record your usage, and report back to the electric company.

Most electric companies then made a business transformation and installed smart meters – eliminating the cost of the meter reader and integrating most homes into a smart grid that gave customers access to their real-time information. Now, as renewable energy evolves and integrates more fully into our lives, these same electric companies that switched over to smart meters are going to make additional investments to be able to analyze the data and make more informed decisions that will benefit both the company and its customers.

That is digital transformation. Obviously, banks, healthcare, entertainment, trucking, and e-commerce all have different needs than auto manufacturers and electric companies. It is up to us – marketers and account managers promoting digital transformation – to identify those needs and help our clients make the digital transformation as seamlessly as possible.

Digital transformation is more than just a fancy buzzword, it is our present and our future. It is re-envisioning existing business models and embracing a different way of bringing together people, data, and processes to create more for their customers through systems of intelligence.

Learn more about what it means to be a digital business.


Goswami Kadamb

About Goswami Kadamb

Kadamb is a Senior Program Manager at SAP where he is responsible for developing and executing strategic sales program with Concur SaaS portfolio. Prior to that he led several initiatives with Microsoft's Cloud & Enterprise business to enable Solution Sales & IaaS offerings.