Written by Björn Neumann (@CCMTechnology) for Buljan & Partners Consulting
CPQ (Configure, Price, and Quote) technology is a key success factor to improve customer centric B2C and B2B processes.
What are the advantages and aspects to keep in mind when implementing CPQ initiatives?
When looking at the sales cycle and main customer touch points, the product or service offer is not only the cardinal point of maintaining business relations, either B2C or B2B, but the key to one’s business. Most importantly this offer should be:
- efficient (especially fast) and
Other important aspects for presenting configurations, quotes and offers are:
- flexibility (adapting quotes to the customers’ needs)
- multi-channeling (having a genuine offer on all channels at all times; or alternatively using technology as an enabler to go multi-channel)
- targeting (adapting the offer to the customer’s specific situation)
- manufacturing and delivery (e.g. via integration with the backend ERP system)
- authorization (the offering party is authorized to apply terms and conditions)
- being comparable to similar products or services(within the business line or with competitors)
- guidance (helping customers and employees through the offer)
- compliance (e.g. ensuring that price calculations meet local legal requirements)
There are many positive factors worth mentioning when applying CPQ technologies, such as improving customer experience, improving employee engagement and improving customer effort KPIs, which are related to a customer-centric strategy. They are explained below.
The configuration process can and should be an exceptional consumer experience: 3D presentation of the products, available color schemes, scroll in/out or real-time image adaptation of accessories and options. Configurations are real-time and available from the R&D department and automatically transferred to images without photographing. Configurations are available on all devices and can be shared with others on social media. Configurations can be easily saved and adapted. Customers buy because it is an exceptional experience.
With the right technology, employees involved in the sales process can obtain more responsibility and become more engaged; training needs are reduced or better ones are invested in. Technology is helpful, not a hindrance. Due to automation, the throughput per employee is increased. Errors are avoided and the emphasis during the sales process is on the content, not on its administration.
When measuring customer effort (e.g. by using the Customer Effort Score – CES), customers can save time and effort using CPQ technology. The configuration process and price calculation is more efficient. Unnecessary inquiries are avoided and customers spend less time obtaining the right quote when needed. A real win-win for both sides.
On the other hand, technology is also criticized: it cannot replace the personal aspects of the sales process; it only has a supporting function. Often a sales person can and must read between the lines and “sense” what the customer wants or is able to spend.However, this disadvantage may also be an advantage, as sales representatives have more time to concentrate on the personal relation during the CPQ process, rather than using a complex application.
In summary, CPQ technologies can be of high impact within the customer journey and should be thoroughly analyzed regarding their potential to improve customer and employee engagement, reduce costs and efforts, and increase sales.
Björn Neumann is Managing Consultant and Service Line Leader for Customer Centric Technology Leadership at Buljan & Partners Consulting. Björn is a specialist in Project Management and CRM system implementations accross several industries since 1998.
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