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By Christophe Viry
on 14 Mar 2017 11:05 AM
  • Grande Distribution
The huge business advantages that come with a modern B2B integration approach are not only significant in terms of productivity, but also in ensuring customer satisfaction. We often talk about the main advantages of integration, such as higher collaboration, visibility and access, but there are many other aspects that should also be mentioned. Once a company has the opportunity to join a selective, collaborative and innovative network—an “excellence club”—the positive impact this will have on their business will be practically immediate.
 

Higher customer satisfaction and retention

Our recent IDC survey portrays that 71% of the companies evaluated, which is a vast majority of them, mention the positive impact that modern B2B integration has on customer relations. It creates strategic benefits that lead to a higher percentage of both customer satisfaction and retention. This is without a doubt the main challenge that businesses face today: ensuring that their customers are not only satisfied, but that they do not search for a better experience elsewhere. With competition at an all-time high, one needs to always be able to predict customer expectations and exceed them, especially when it comes to product features, quality of product and service, and of course price. 
 

Enhancing customer service through an integration of networks

But we also need to see beyond what is described above, because a customer’s experience also includes points such as the ease of working with an organization, how reliable and willing they are to minimize issues and provide solutions, and well as the speed and ease of interaction and transaction. This is why it has become crucial for companies to integrate networks into their supply chain, connecting suppliers, providers, customers, and transportation managers together in a place where strategies can be integrated and synchronized. High levels of customer service are only possible when a business network operates and interacts seamlessly. Mary may love buying her skincare products online from a specific outlet, but if she notices that the same products are sold by another company with faster shipping times, and with more reliable customer service, she will have no qualms in switching allegiances, even if there is no difference in price.
 

Other highly valued benefits

The main business integration benefits identified by the evaluated companies are the positive effect on customer relations (70% of companies), the reduction in cycle time (70% of companies), as well as the integration of more flexible and agile business services (68% of companies). But not far behind are also benefits such as the improvement of demand forecast, better employee time optimization, lower business risk, a more streamlined invoicing process, more rapid time-to-market, and, not to be forgotten, the ability to develop differentiating services for clients. Integration is also synonymous with lowering costs, whether in logistics, communication or procurement. Most of these benefits are based in efficiency, which immediately affects productivity in a positive fashion. Any gain in efficiency will always lead to a higher productivity output, and at the end of the line, happier customers. If an unexpected snowstorm delays Mary’s delivery by a few days, but she receives timely notifications and the availability of alternative options, she will most likely appreciate not only the efficiency of the company, but also their proactivity. 
 

Productivity does not mean employee reduction

However, efficiency and productivity do not immediately go hand in hand with employee reduction. According to the companies evaluated for the IDC survey, optimizing employees (65% of the companies evaluated) is a lot more important than employee reduction (43% of companies evaluated). This goes to show that companies now understand that enhancing productivity means optimizing an employee’s time and work, rather than cutting back and reducing their number. This important point highlights how integration and collaboration is changing the traditional views of how businesses work.
 

Christophe Viry

Expert in EDI, Software integration, e-invoicing…