3 Lessons Enterprise B2B Businesses Can Learn from Operations and Maintenance Customers

Businesses deeply entrenched in integrated technologies to facilitate their customer data and lead generation and management oftentimes experience whole new sets of challenges sustaining and growing their business. At MindShare Design, we’ve noticed a couple key challenges: customization, meeting the customer’s expectations, and the move towards experiential.

Customization— Personalization is king and all data supports that the more personalized an engagement is with a customer, the more likely that customer is to convert and have a larger order. In fact, 68% of marketers believe personalization based on behavioral data has a high impact on ROI (Econsultancy). Companies like Amazon pioneered this trend and now everyone else is playing catch up. There is even a whole sub-set of MarTech companies that do nothing but provide the technology to increase the level of personalization in corporate communications.

Unfortunately, the knife cuts both ways: not only does increasing the level of personalization increase the sophistication of customer interactions, but it adds a high level customization to the company’s own marketing infrastructure. This can make the marketing department less agile in responding to new trends and adds an extra layer of QA and complexity in launching new marketing campaigns.

Meeting the customer’s expectations—as with customization, this trend cuts companies both ways. Not only have customer expectations of brands heightened in terms of customization and responsiveness to customer contact, but brands also turn around and expect the same from their vendors (suppliers).

Move towards experiential—one of the hottest topics in marketing continues to be “experience,” specifically carefully controlling the factors that influence the customer’s emotions towards a brand. This plays out everywhere from “UX” in web design to interactive marketing pieces to being strongly correlated to the company itself, like Disney or Amazon. As an email company, we feel the pressure from customers to push the bounds of creativity and interaction, with new types of emails and creating emails with interactive elements like scratch-off or embedding videos in emails.

While servicing enterprise customers present these challenges, taking a step back and looking at the broader picture will help.

In contrast to our enterprise marketing customers, through open and direct communications we’ve had with operations and maintenance customers, we’ve noticed a different set of trends emerge:

1: Outside of the tech bubble, people just want their work to be easier
The people who try WorkStraight are not looking for fancy tech tools with bells and whistles. They want something straightforward, easy to use and most importantly, something that the rest of their team will catch onto quickly. We recently spoke to a warehouse manager who oversaw a staff of 100 employees. He had just fired 16 for failing a random drug test, and needed a tool to help warehouse workers communicate with the maintenance crew, particularly since the warehouse was so short staffed at the time.

Moreover, people outside the tech bubble are intimidated by tech. There’s a sense that they know they need it and that it’s supposed to make their lives easier, but almost daily our customer support team receives emails from small business owners, managers and administrators overwhelmed or unsure how to figure out how to use productivity tools in their workplace.

2: There is still a lot of reliance on post its, spreadsheets and digging into e-mails – and this pain point is more universal than most people realize.
We were shocked when we first started talking to prospects and current customers of how much their day to day operations and maintenance was still dependent upon post-its, emails and even spreadsheets, despite the size and scale of some of their operations. We realized that for so many, this vital component of running a business had been left out of the digital transformation because of overly (or unnecessarily) complex tools. However, the more we spoke with VPs of Operations and Facility Managers, we recognized that the need was the same across different industries and company sizes– managers wanted more insight into what their reportees were doing and productivity reports that they could give their managers to justify their budgets and team sizes.

3: Keeping the dialogue open with your customers, regardless of industry is vital. When WorkStraight first launched, it was a suite of web-based products– an online point of sale terminal, a calendar, a notes/messaging app, and a work order management app. Customers started telling us directly that they found the work order management part of the app the most useful, so the decision was made to make it the foundational part of the product and build it out to be a full CMMS solution. But, if you look at WorkStraight today, the other 3 apps are still included in the platform, arranged around the work order management tool. Customer feedback is still central to product operations, and 99% of the projects currently on the product roadmap came from suggestions customers made. The other 1% of projects come from our own internal usage of the product. We don’t just sell the product to others– MindShare Design runs on it.

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