Better Data Boosts B2B Performance
"Decision making at big B2B companies is often skewed by anecdote and myth," claims a new article in Harvard Business Review. "Anecdotes gain that stature because managers often lack timely, reliable information."
Author Rob Markey goes on to discuss how smart B2B companies use frequent, direct feedback from key stakeholders at customer sites to support the efforts of sales, operations, and service teams. "Methodically capturing, cataloging, and analyzing individual conversations on a large scale allows companies to turn anecdote into statistically robust, reliable data," he says.
But capturing and analyzing it isn't enough. Markey stresses the importance of getting vital information out to managers quickly, and ensuring there is a process for acting on any insights uncovered.
OFS Brands, a supplier of contract furniture for office, healthcare, education, government, and home office markets worldwide is using WebFOCUS to empower its sales force, as well as employees in manufacturing, purchasing, transportation, quality control, and other areas, to analyze and visualize information to improve decision-making, enhance customer service, and boost product quality. The dashboards, reports, and BI apps created with WebFOCUS incorporate direct customer feedback, in the form of unstructured information culled from information submitted by customers to the company's trouble-ticket and quality control/returned goods authorization systems. A tag cloud uses fonts and colors to indicate the relative importance of commonly used words, isolating popular topics within a large volume of raw textual data.
Product issues can now be identified at a glance, with stakeholders drilling down to more detailed data to determine which problems are isolated and which are ongoing, and what the root causes may be.
The success of this tag cloud has prompted OFS to plan for another, to let its customer service group understand comments and discern customer sentiment pertaining to orders. This tag cloud will be combined with visual discovery capabilities, so the sales department can more easily uncover opportunities, outliers, and exceptions.