One of the questions I get a lot is the following: “Steven, your books and keynotes, do they also apply for B2B companies?”. The answer is yes! You also have digital and human transformation if you want to achieve a fantastic customer experience in B2B companies.
IoT in B2B could flip the traditional powers in the market
Think about the traditional B2B process: you have the production company, then you have the intermediary company and finally there is the end user. Sometimes it is more complex but let’s use this as a simple framework. The truth is: B2B companies are just talking to the intermediary and the intermediary is talking and selling (and sometimes offering services) to the end customer. For a manufacturer, It is difficult to get information about the end user experience of their products.
The moment that you have sensors and data collection inside of those products, things change completely. It will flip customer experience in B2B completely. In this data enabled world, the producer of the product will have more end user information than the intermediary. Cause the intermediary just talks to the end user. But the end user data about the real behavior will arrive at the production facility. If you want to optimize the customer experience, it starts with understanding the real customer behavior. Once you have that? Wow! Then you can change a lot.
IoT is more than just an increase in efficiency
Until now, I have the feeling that many B to B companies see Internet of Things as the perfect way to increase the efficiency of their processes. There is another side to that and that’s customer intimacy. Once you have the data, you know the usage pattern. And with that, you can do a lot. You can optimize the product, of course, but think about pre-emptive maintenance for instance. It is probably the biggest opportunity in B2B to invest in a world of perfect timing. Imagine the increase in service experience this creates among your customers. The manufacturer will know when things break down before they actually break down. This opens up the gate for a large set of new service agreements that weren't possible in a world without data. It almost feels like B2B products will actually come to life because of this data capturing.
Let me give you an example of a huge B2B company. I was recently in Denmark for a keynote speech where I had the pleasure to talk to the CIO of ISS. It is one of the largest facility service companies in the world. They employ more than five hundred thousand people. Their industry sounds very traditional and conservative, but the opposite is true. They installed sensors in some facilities that they maintain. With those sensors, they learn so much about how employees work and live in a facility. This knowledge delivers additional value to their customers. But more importantly, the data allows them to optimize their service levels at a lower cost.
The following example is a bit strange, but it certainly is crucial in the business ISS is in: the cleaning of the toilets. They have changed that completely. In the past, the teams responsible for cleaning toilets were either too early or too late to reach the optimal result. Now, they can clean these facilities at the perfect moment. They count the number of people who use the toilet. They have all kind of sensors and with that information, they can optimize the cleaning of that facility. They have all kinds of vedning machines all over the facilities (think about fending and coffee machines). In the past, they were often too late or too early to refill the machine. Now, they execute that service it at the exact right moment. They are using data to optimize their service. We are going to see more of that in the very near future.
The question I have for you: can you share some examples of what you and your B2B company are doing with IoT to optimize customer service? I think it is an interesting playing field to optimize your gain and for the first time in history, as a B2B company, you get all the data and the usage patterns of the end users. That’s why I think it is a huge opportunity to invest in IoT and to flip the customer experience game in B2B marketing.