Last blog I talked about how tying B2B projects to corporate goals and objectives can raise them to become strategic. As an example, I looked at how the more partners and more transactions that are automated with B2B Integration the more information is available digitally, which opens up a lot of possibilities for using that information. As I wrote that, I didn’t expect that I would be experiencing it first hand as a consumer.
In December I was in the market for a new car, I have driven the same brand ever since I could afford to buy/lease a new car and not just purchase a hand-me-down from my parents. But my old car has served me faithfully for over a decade and it was time to retire it and find a new one. While I could write a lot about how the car buying experience has changed in the past decade, since I was last in the market as an active buyer, that is a story for another day; however, I will say that living in the “age of the empowered customer” really saved me money and the dealership that was willing to work with me as a 21st century consumer had gained brand loyalty from me and those that still operated like they always did never stood a chance of getting my business. But I digress….
I knew exactly what features I wanted, the color, specs, etc, which meant that I had to order my new vehicle from the manufacturer because there wasn’t one that met my expectations in a 5 state area. While it is great to get exactly one I wanted, I had to wait up to 8 weeks for the vehicle to be built from the date I placed the order deposit. After the excitement of the search, delaying gratification for up to two months is not the ideal outcome. But here is where the auto manufacturer surprised me. During the wait, they regularly updated me via email of the progress of my car, through the major stages, order placed, staging, production starting, assembly, painting …. all the way through delivery to my dealership. I received emails with links to a page for my car. My webpage had all the production staged listed, it told me where my car was being assembled, identified the current stage, and included pictures of the process (I would have loved to have a live webcam stream or recording of my car going through assembly instead of stock photos). Tracking my vehicle made the wait feel a lot shorter than if I had just been waiting for a call or email telling me it was at the dealer.
My point here is that because the auto manufacturer uses B2B integration to automate their processes and transactions across their supplier community and inside their organization, they had the digital information to keep me up to date on the progress of my new automobile. I loved it and I knew that it was only possible because they were using EDI transactions. Once a company has the digital information, it isn’t a lot of work to use it to improve the customer experience, but I can tell you that I was delighted by how I was kept informed of my new car’s journey to me.