Ricoh: B2B CX needs to model B2C

How Ricoh overhauled its CX for a competitive advantage

With its margins being squeezed, and increasing customer service expectations, global technology provider, Ricoh, realised it needed to do something different to stay successful. 

Like many smart businesses, Ricoh knew customer experience (CX) could make a difference to its success, but it soon discovered 'realising' and 'implementing' are two different things, because, while it wanted to improve CX, silos and ineffective technology were hampering its efforts. 

Shiv Narayan, CEO at Ricoh South Pacific, told CMO that customers wanted service more in line with B2C than B2B; and while margins were decreasing, Ricoh couldn’t just put up its prices and not offer an added extra. 

“But people will pay more for good CX,” he said. “CX can be the difference. However, achieving this is difficult. Sales and marketing have the same goals, but no one was talking to each other to achieve them.” 

To address all these issues and more, a year ago the company transformed the way it manages customer relationships through Salesforce Lightning, a move that has allowed it to proactively engage and respond to customer concerns with the right expertise, at a faster pace.

“We did not have the tools or technology needed for our people to deal with processes and customers quickly. We had different apps to do different things, on different silos, but we soon realised in order to overhaul our CX, we had to overhaul our technology. A recent Salesforce report showed 28 per cent of service agents can’t find all the information they need to do their job on one screen, and this was certainly the case for us,” Narayan told CMO

“We wanted to be on one system, so every team, whether it’s sales, marketing or others, could be on the same screen looking at the same information, no matter what channel the information came from.”

The improvement has been incredible for Ricoh, customer satisfaction has jumped 20 per cent, and employee satisfaction has jumped 37 per cent, all this culminating in a year-on-year revenue rise of 30 per cent. The company has also not lost a single customer in the last six months. 

“Without making these changes to CX, this wouldn’t have happened for us,” Narayan said.

“Revenue is just an outcome. But CX is critical from the start. And how we improved it is by giving our people all the information they need on one screen. This was so vital to us, as customers expect an organisation to know them and their problems before the conversation even starts. 

“It might be considered unreasonable, but customers shop on Amazon, and that B2C service expectation carries over to the B2B market. Delivering on those expectations now means we are enjoying an early adopter advantage, because many B2B organisations are still incredibly disconnected. Now we know what our customers’ problems are, we have transformed CX and service, which has made us more competitive.” 

He added the recent Salesforce State of Service report also demonstrated only 59 per cent of customer service agents say they have all the tools they need to do their job.

“Even if staff are trying to give good service, they can’t without the right tools. By helping our employees, they are able to help our customers. It is those two things driving our increase in revenue.” 

And, as it turns out, empowering sales teams and service agents has also empowered marketing. 

“Customer service and marketing can work together, and they should be. Now, we are using customer service to get better data for our marketing efforts. Mobile workers are a reflection of a brand; people really trust technicians, but they don’t trust sales or marketers on the end of a phone asking them personal questions. 

“By giving the right information to technicians, we can then prompt them to ask the right questions of our customers. In this way, we can capture incredibly relevant data, and marketers can have authentic conversations off the back of this. 

“We can better understand who our customers are and what problems and needs they have now and in the future. We can also understand a customer’s likelihood to churn, because a field worker can quickly input issues into Salesforce, and marketing can then use it to reach out.” 

Since implementing Salesforce, Narayan said he has been surprised at the amount of human connection customers now expect. 

“We thought people just wanted faster, more automated services. But customers actually wanted a human connection from us; they wanted a human experience,” he explained. 

“We implemented this new technology because we wanted to improve our efficiency, automation and AI. But we quickly realised this was all just a facilitator for better customer experience. 

“Now, our field workers are sent out more often to get in front of customers. Traditionally, this was seen as an expense to the business, but we now understand customers want more human interaction. 

“We are using technology to create more opportunities for our brand to offer more human opportunities, and this is differentiating us from the competition. 

“It’s surprising because I thought people wanted to be responded to faster, but they actually want to be cared about.” 

The next phase to develop their agents is further investment in training and technology, to ensure they have the skills needed for the future as their job becomes more sophisticated. In the future, Ricoh is looking to AI to be even more of a facilitator to these differentiating human experiences. 

“We are looking at making AI a facilitator to help humans do human things faster. We want to improve the suggestions, recommendations and predictions available to the service and marketing teams. We are augmenting the knowledge available to them so they don’t have to find it manually. For example, using Einstein Vision, a field technician can identify a part by taking a picture and using image recognition, rather than searching a physical manual. 

“We will also use sentiment analysis to predict the likelihood of a customer churning, thanks to natural language processing. 

“This all allows our human workforce to act on things in a more targeted way. AI will be a facilitator for human experiences by doing the background grunt work.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu   

 

 

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