Here’s How Ingram Micro Used Digital Technologies to Understand Customer Behavior and Create a Seamless Experience
Customer experience is at the fore of many business strategies in 2019. With unprecedented competition due to the global marketplace and intense pressure from huge ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, it’s customer experience which is becoming a key brand differentiator – even among B2B companies.
The question which falls to brands looking to improve customer experience then is how do they gain a greater insight and understanding into the behavior of their clientele and then turn that understanding into policy? Naturally, being 2019, part of the answer is found in digital technology, which can be used to get to know customers better and learn how to better serve them.
IT product provider Ingram Micro is one such company and has some great ideas on how to apply digital technology to create a seamless customer experience for its B2B clients.
The first step in this strategy was for Ingram Micro to move from a customer-aware to a customer-led model. This change in philosophy allows the company to better understand the motivations for their customers’ behavior and the pain points they encounter day-to-day. Technology can then be used to meet those customers where they are and try and avoid those pain points for a more frictionless experience.
“Ingram Micro is at an inflection point,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer of Ingram Micro, Tom Peck. “Our customers, vendors, and resellers want speed and agility, so we need to change from a B2B to a B2C mindset, and technology is a huge part of that. To improve every customer touchpoint, we talk about moving from customer-aware to customer-led. It is no longer good enough to understand what customers are doing and how they're doing it; we want to understand why customers are doing what they are doing.”
To connect with customers, Ingram Micro has deployed a host of innovative digital technology. Chat-bots and artificial intelligence software is giving the IT provider’s clientele the ability to engage with the brand whenever they want and whenever they are. Naturally, the software can gather data from these interactions which is allowing Ingram to build new and more detailed buyer persons for its customers and innovate to address common the common pain points which are causing them to get in touch.
However, Ingram Micro isn’t stopping there and is curious about a great many established and emerging technologies and how they might also be used to drive real organizational change and superior customer experience.
“We are exploring pilot products in multiple areas,” added Peck. “How can blockchain enable a secure procurement chain or help with reverse logistics? Can robotics and virtual reality help in our pick, pack, and ship processes and give us higher perfect order index scores?”
Blockchain in particular holds great promise for B2B brands and their supply chains. While the technology has yet to prove itself outside of the finance industry, the security and transparency the peer-to-peer transactional platform offers has the potential to bring new confidence and customer satisfaction to any industry which relies on complex supply chains.
Ingram Micro recently announced a new cloud-based marketplace which it hopes will provide customers with a seamless B2B experience. The automated platform is designed to offer a one stop shop where buyers, sellers, and solution providers can connect and build strong business relationships and allow Ingram’s partners to purchase, provision, manage, and invoice with ease.
Another way in which Ingram Micro is helping to create this new environment of customer experience focused innovation is by bringing its own IT and digital teams together and breaking down the silos which exist between the two sections of the organization.
“IT and digital are all a part of one organization,” said Peck. “The worst thing I could do is run the teams as a silo. One team could be perceived to be more important, which can really backfire. Both functions are important. When you run IT and digital a singular team, you gain collaboration and speed.”
However, when running these two arms together one must be careful not to let the tail wag the dog, so to speak. Some people view this kind of organizational shift as moving towards allowing technology to run the business, so it’s important to challenge that perception with early innovations and successes which demonstrate the value of the new structure.
Technology is helping B2B brands better serve their clients through seamless and superior customer experience. Just looking at the work being done at Ingram Micro is enough to effectively communicate just how powerful this technology is right now and it’s only going to get more so as time goes on.
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