James Bates On The Key Elements Of B2B At Online Retailer

James Bates On The Key Elements Of B2B At Online Retailer

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 In pre-pandemic times, enterprises struggled with leakage, with outdated sales engagement and channels – post-covid showed that digital is no longer an option but an absolute imperative. In an ever-changing world, where should the CEO’s attention be focused?

The Online Retailer Conference & Expo in Sydney on 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.

One panel in particular titled ‘The Future Is Digital’ brings together James Bates (main image, 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

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 prior to his attendance.

The Government has said it wants to be the ‘most customer-centric government 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.

Can you give me an example of how the government has implemented something that has been recommended by the customer?

Our Life Journeys program organise government services around key life events rather than, as we traditionally have done, around government departmental silos.

Take, for instance, the birth of a child and those early years. On average, parents will interact with 17 different parts of state government, 10 different parts of the Commonwealth government, and 30 NGOs before their child reaches school.

So we’re doing a lot of work on that particular life journey under our brighter beginnings program which aims to make the system easier to navigate for parents and aims to increase the number of children who are developmentally on track by the time they commence school.

Who were the core team and agencies that are working on this vision? Which departments have been involved?

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 customers.

Like I said earlier, we want all government 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 government effort.

You would have vast amounts of data from the Australian public. How do you use this data to make the government ‘customer-centric?’

You’re right there is a lot of data out there and there is a lot of data that governments collect, but 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 government decision-making.

For example, all of the wholes of government CX Survey results are stored there alongside other more operational data….

What sort of data do you look at? What other tools do you use apart from data to hear the customer’s viewpoint?

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. Ideally, we’re always triangulating one data source with another.

In addition to data, 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. So for instance, Service NSW has a practice of what we call Service time which is when senior leaders spend half a day or a day working in one of our service centers to help them stay connected with what’s happening on the frontline.

By saying you are ‘customer-centric,’ does this mean that customer data/ feedback impacts policy making? How does that happen?

Absolutely it does and we’re 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. It 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’re finding that we’re 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, of course, 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 / thumbs down widget that we use to get feedback from customers and we watch like a hawk. 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 would be the top three things you would advise to a service organisation or B2B organisation that are wanting to improve its CX?

You know as part of our development of the whole government customer strategy, we looked at a lot of organisations around the world 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

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