Today’s consumers have the ability to browse, make purchases and manage their accounts online. Business buyers have come to expect the same capabilities from their suppliers. In fact, according to a recent McKinsey survey, a lack of speed in interactions with their suppliers—an inevitable result of manual processes—is the number-one pain point for B2B buyers.
B2B businesses that adopt digital enhancements now can gain a crucial edge on their competitors. A national B2B retailer’s recent partnership with BlueTarp demonstrates the power of improving your customers’ online account experience.
Retailer reduces credit card use by 80% and saves $1M a year
Like many B2B retailers, this company lacked the ability to offer online bill pay to its business customers. It was eager to introduce this feature because of customer demand and the increasing costs of accepting credit cards as payment for in-house credit balances. Though this practice is widespread, it’s expensive. Retailers are effectively paying twice for each transaction: They’re paying for the cost of an in-house credit program, plus the credit card processing fee of 2-4%.
By adding the ability to pay online, implementing a policy change and carefully communicating these changes to customers, BlueTarp was able to achieve 14% growth in online bill pay adoption in the first few months. At the same time, it converted 80% of credit-card-on-account payers to other forms of payment, resulting in the retailer saving $1 million a year.
Create a self-serve B2B credit portal your customers will love
Online bill-pay is just one of a suite of self-serve capabilities the retailer began to offer. Before, customers had to call in and were bounced between credit, sales and customer service for simple billing requests. Now, they use their online account to download statements, view past purchases, request more credit or dispute charges. BlueTarp surveys show that making this switch to online self-serve tools increases customer satisfaction. In fact, BlueTarp’s most satisfied customers are the highest users of their online accounts.
Self-serve portals, designed with intelligence, bring two essential qualities to the customer experience: simplicity and flexibility. Simplicity is paramount when introducing any kind of automation. Since the objective is to make transactions easier for customers, it’s important to develop an intuitive platform that doesn’t leave them with more questions than answers.
On the other hand, the B2B credit process is complex, and customers’ needs are always changing. That’s why BlueTarp’s customer portals offer a high degree of flexibility, so customers can change their preferences in areas like billing, payment reminders and approved purchasers. They also give customers the ability to pay by job, invoice or any dollar amount; create custom permission-based roles for different levels of employees within the company; enable and disable user accounts; reset user passwords and invite new users.
Gain operational efficiencies and cost savings
Making the move to a more digital purchase-to-payment experience benefits B2B retailers just as much as their customers. Every action a customer can take to self-serve means you aren’t paying someone to answer a call or research what they need or mail a statement. By enabling the ability for customers to pay online, you’re not only making life easier for their AP department or bookkeeper, but you’ll get paid more quickly as well.
What’s more, any question that can be answered within the customer portal means they’re not using your sales team for help. With less time devoted to customer service, sales can focus on making new sales and identifying new growth areas.
Online account management is fast becoming the preference for most B2B customers. In fact, 86 percent of respondents in the McKinsey survey said that when it comes to reordering, they’d rather use self-service tools than talk to a sales representative. As digitization continues to transform the experience of individual consumers, self-serve portals for B2B customers will become the expectation, rather than the exception. Companies that fail to make the change today run the risk of losing customers in the future. Plus, as the retailer that partnered with BlueTarp can attest, you could be missing out on significant annual cost savings.