Globys Research A strategic perspective on CSP B2B portals

Applying the ‘Amazon-like’ experience to the CSP business portal

Topics: B2B Portal, Customer Experience

Let me guess – if you had a dollar for every time someone referenced ‘Amazon-like’ experience in a company meeting, you’d be rich. As those responsible for delivering the portal experience, it’s not an easy task to continually align expectations (both customer and internal) with the reality of what you’ve been given to work with (legacy system overload). And with the blurring of consumer and business experiences, the task of defining what’s needed for your business portal becomes even harder.

The way we buy and engage with services as consumers has completely changed, largely in part due to e-commerce giants like Amazon (now accounting for more than 50% of US e-commerce). And while there are some stark differences between our consumer versus professional needs, we can’t discount the fact that Amazon has successfully managed to alter the buying and consumption behaviors of millions of adopted users. After all, isn’t that the ultimate goal of any digital experience?

So what specific lessons can we learn from Amazon in regards to delivering a ‘gold star’ digital experience that ultimately shifts customer behavior?

Single experience with integrated workflows

As you move through Amazon’s buying and fulfillment process, it’s clear to see a lot of thought has gone into the user flows. After searching and adding an item to your cart, the ‘proceed to checkout’ directs you to the payment process. Your stored payment methods and shipping addresses appear, with the user-defined defaults automatically selected. And if you’ve selected multiple items, you can easily apply different payment and shipping methods.

This idea of knowing what customers need to do in order to complete a purchase, or any common task, is step one for CSPs. Then comes defining the specific capabilities required to complete a customer task, such as paying an invoice, viewing a report, or buying a new device. Then lastly, determining if they exist in a digital state today, and if so, are they capable of being integrated into a single workflow or are they deployed across different platforms/portals that hinder integration.

Innovation driven by user convenience and personalization

Although Amazon is recognized for their thought leadership around new technologies, such as AI and machine learning, their broad success is linked to their continued focus on convenience and personalization. Prime (no pun intended) examples of these are the Buy Now (one-click purchase), Dash Buttons (instant reorder) and Amazon Household (multi-user permissions) features.

It’s not ground breaking changes that make the difference – it’s knowing what customers are doing and finding ways to continually make those tasks easier. For business customers, time savings is the most noted benefit for changing the way they engage with their CSPs. If you can find a way to deliver efficiency for your business customers, they will gladly give up their offline, manual practices.

100% self-serve

All of the above has enabled Amazon to operate in a model which leads to very few customer inquiries or disputes. It’s easy to use. It’s easy to know the actions you’ve taken. It’s easy to trust your actions will lead to the expected results.

And most importantly, it eliminates the need to drive to the store, find a parking spot, search on shelves, drive to another store, do a price check, package and ship a gift, enter shipping codes to track, argue about return policies…you get the point.

When your portal experience can successfully eliminate your business customers’ pain points around managing their telecom costs and assets, the idea of 100% self-serve shifts from utopia to reality.