The future is digital: Why digital transformation in B2B is imperative

Selling and customer engagement in B2B demands a higher degree of personalisation and engagement. In pre-pandemic times, enterprises struggled with leakage, with outdated sales engagement and channels – post-covid showed that digital is no longer an option but an imperative. In an ever-changing world, where should the CEO’s attention be focused?

The Online Retailer Conference & Expo in Sydney running from July 20th – 21st has created a separate B2B conference to focus on the challenges and solutions for B2B retailers, hosting thought-provoking sessions led by some of Australia’s key players to touch on important factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-evolving world that came as a result.

Who are the panelists at the conference?

One panel in particular titled ‘The Future Is Digital’ brings together James Bates (Executive Director, NSW Department of Customer Service), Claire Madden (Social Researcher, Hello Clarity), Marc Levin (CEO, JasonL), and David Campbell (Commercial Sales Manager & Retail Marketing Consultant, Barbeques Galore) to challenge and discuss the current B2B market.

Some of the highlight topics include:

  • Why CX-centric marketing matters – a CEOs perspective;
  • How to find and engage with the right talent;
  • What does the recovery roadmap look like following COVID?
  • Why digital innovation is an absolute necessity;
  • How to monitor behavioral trends for product design and CX engagement;

What is CX in the eyes of the government?

The panel aims to provide attendees with relevant insights moving into the future of B2B marketing, especially for those considering the logistics behind digital transformation. Taking the opportunity to discuss this digital transformation from a government perspective, James Bates provided some key insights on customer experience (CX) prior to his attendance.

What does Customer-centric government mean?

The Gov’t has said it wants to be the ‘most customer-centric gov’t in the world’. What does this mean? And how do you measure this? Put simply we want all government services to be effective, easy, and trustworthy no matter who you are, where you are, or what you need.

How do we measure that? Well, we have a whole government customer experience survey that talks to 30,000 people in NSW a year and covers 37 separate service lines and over 550 different interactions. The survey measures ask people for each of those 37 service lines and 550 interactions – how easy was the service to engage with, did you feel that the service or person you dealt with had your best interests at heart, and how satisfied were you.

How does the customer influence gov’t service allotment?

Can you give me an example of how the gov’t has implemented something that has been recommended by the customer? Our Life Journeys program organise gov’t services around key life events rather than, as we traditionally have done, around gov’t departmental silos.

For instance, the birth of a child and those early years. Parents will interact with about 17 different parts of state gov’t, 10 different parts of the Commonwealth gov’t, and 30 NGOs before their child reaches school. So we’re doing a lot of work on that journey under brighter beginnings program which aims to make the system easier to navigate and aims to increase the number of children who are developmentally on track by the time they begin school.

Who were the core team working on this vision?

Well the role of the Department that I work for, the Department of Customer Service, is to work across the government to help improve services for clients. Like I said earlier, we want all gov’t services to be effective, easy, and trustworthy no matter who you are, where you are, or what you need. That really does include all services. So it’s really a whole gov’t effort.

How do you use data to make the gov’t ‘customer-centric?’

You are right there is a plethora of data and information out there and there is a lot of data that governments collect, however it can be quite challenging to get the right data from the right part of the government in front of the right people at the right time.

To help with that, we’ve recently developed what we’re all the Customer Insights Hub which is really a repository for key customer data from across government that we can then feed into gov’t decision-making. For example, all of the wholes of government Customer Experience (CX) Survey results are stored there alongside other more operational data…

What sort of data do you look at?

We use a whole range of data. Sentiment data, channel and traffic data, operational data, and even a lot of publicly available data. For instance, we used Google and Apple’s mobility data that they released throughout the last two years to help understand how people’s behavior changed through COVID. We’re always triangulating one data source with another.

It’s important to stay connected to the customer’s experience in more human ways, ones that help connect the data to real-life experience. For instance, Service NSW has a practice of what we call Service time which is when senior leaders spend a day working in one of our service centers to help them stay connected with what’s happening on the frontline.

Does this mean that customer data impacts policy making?

Absolutely it does and we are trying to get better at it. Trying to move away from the old days of government consultation where we might put out some position paper or green paper that people would have to find and then take the time to provide feedback in some form that was convenient for us, but not for the people we said we wanted to hear from.

Our ‘Have Your Say platform,’ which is a whole government consultation and feedback platform, really is a million miles away from that old way of doing consultation.

The platform has a lot of different ways of providing feedback and importantly it allows the customer to engage in as much or as little of the process as they would like. And we are finding that we are getting much more engagement than we ever have before.

Were things like Dine & Discover led by customer feedback/data?

Well the great thing about Dine & Discover is how easy the process is to get and use the vouchers through the Service NSW app. And everything in the Service NSW app has a thumbs up or thumbs down widget that we use to get feedback from customers.

The Minister has a dashboard on his phone that lets him see the thumbs up / thumbs down score for every single transaction or service. In addition to the score though, we also make the free text available to the Minister and really anyone working on that service. It’s that verbatim feedback that we really use to drive the backlog development.

What are the top three things you advise to a B2B organisation?

You know as part of our development of the whole gov’t customer strategy, we looked at a lot of firms and the literature and found that customer-centric organisations do five things:

  • They understand their customers
  • They prioritise action and investment around what matters to their customers
  • They deliver high-quality services and experiences
  • They engage meaningfully with their customers
  • They have a customer-centric culture