Global research shows mobile and social technologies complicate B2B sales processes

Business decision-makers report paying 30 Percent premium for improved customer experiences.

November 20, 2013

Business decision-makers report paying 30 Percent premium for improved customer experiences

Avanade, a global business technology solutions and managed services provider, today released results from a large-scale global survey (including South Africa) on the changing sales process and buying patterns of business and IT decision-makers. Avanade’s latest research shows the “consumerisation” movement is shifting the sales process out of the control of the seller as enterprise buyers begin to mimic consumer shopping behaviours. With this shift, the value of the customer experience is now more important than cost to business and IT decision-makers.

News Highlights:

  • Customer experience now tops price as the most important factor in a buying decision by an enterprise decision-maker. Notably, business buyers are willing to pay up to 30 percent more for a product or service that offers an improved customer experience.
  • Businesses no longer have control over information shared about their products or services. 61 percent of business decision-makers report third-party sites and feedback from business partners, industry peers or social channels is more important than conversations with a company’s sales teams when making a purchasing decision.
  • To help navigate this change, companies are enlisting new people and departments to manage the customer experience. Compared to three years ago, customer support and call centers, IT and marketing are the leading groups now playing a larger role in the customer experience.
  • 70 percent of respondents believe technology will mostly replace human interaction with customers in the next ten years. Anticipating this change, businesses are making new technology investments, changing business processes and redesigning organizational roles. More than 80 percent of companies have changed at least one business process in the past three years to better interact with customers.

“The ‘consumerisation of IT’ is dramatically transforming the traditional ways companies sell products and services to other businesses and consumers,” said Rudi Greyling, Avanade South Africa’s Chief Technology Officer and Innovation Lead. “Businesses have lost control of the sales process, and B2B and B2C buying models are merging. It’s no longer business-to-business or business-to-consumer – it’s business-to-everyone. Those businesses that embrace today’s complicated customer relationships are creating longer-term and more lucrative relationships with customers.”

This new global study builds on findings from Avanade’s Work Redesigned research conducted in January 2013. Progressive companies are changing business processes to adapt to a new style of work influenced by mobile devices, collaboration tools and social technologies. In this latest survey, Avanade found that businesses are changing processes to embrace the new business buyer and by increasing customer sales and support technologies (44 percent globally against 24% in South Africa (SA)), increasing the number of employees interacting with customers (40 percent globally vs SA 47%) and adding automation to the sales process (32 percent globally vs. 29% in SA). This ultimately reveals that South Africa is lagging slightly behind this trend in applying technology to increase customer sales.

There are business benefits to making these changes. The research shows that businesses investing in technology to support better customer service and modifying internal roles are seeing positive results. Specifically, the companies making these changes are experiencing increases in customer loyalty (61 percent globally vs. 57% in SA), revenues (60 percent globally vs. 86% in SA) and customer base (60 percent globally vs. 64% in SA). “This just shows the huge potential in revenue for South Africa businesses if they invest in technology to support better customer service,” added Greyling.

The research also supports the findings of Accenture’s High Performers in IT: Defined by Digital report, which said that ‘high performers’ are fully focused on the customer. Accenture found that ‘high performers’ top three business objectives relate to improving the customer’s experience whereas other organizations primarily focus on cutting costs and increasing productivity.

Avanade surveyed 1,000 C-level executives, business unit leaders and IT decision-makers in 19 countries across more than 12 industries.