Gartner defines customer experience as the “customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.” To that end, when we think of customer experience we typically focus on the ultimate or end consumer. For brands that rely on channel partners to sell and service their products, customer experience starts with their dealers, distributors and agents.
Providing channel partners with a superior customer experience at multiple levels is imperative in driving a brand’s desired channel program outcomes. Seamless and integrated technologies, ensuring program elements are meeting the current needs of channel partners, and providing program and support services that are easy to utilize are just a few of the areas where brands can enhance their channel partners’ customer experience.
Make it Seamless
As the depth, breadth and complexity of channel program technologies increases, brands must provide their channel partners with a seamless customer experience. For some channel program providers, that can be difficult as they struggle to integrate acquired or third-party solutions into their channel platforms.
For a brand’s channel partners, a seamless technology customer experience starts with a simple entry point into their channel portal and, once a dealer or distributor has logged in, provides an easy and intuitive user interface and experience. The value of a brand’s channel program should jump off the page, so to speak, by ensuring the most valuable and timely information is presented right away. That could be a new program that’s being offered or the latest update on co-op fund utilization or reimbursement levels.
Another key aspect of creating a seamless technology experience is ensuring third-party applications are integrated into a channel portal in a unified manner. Successful channel program providers know when to leverage best-in-class third-party solutions for their clients. That said, it’s important to ensure a channel partner can easily navigate from the core channel platform to a specific feature of the portal that is provided by a third party. For example, a channel partner should not have to log in to another application that may be part of a brand’s channel program but is provided by another company. The authentication, access and user experience should be seamless to the channel partner.
Don’t Let it Get Stale
A key component of many co-op or market development fund programs is an ad builder solution where channel partners can access, modify and enhance, and utilize approved branded materials to support the sales of a brand’s products and services. It also becomes important for brands to ensure they are continually updating the materials within the ad builder. Nothing diminishes the customer experience and utilization of a channel program more than when a channel partner logs in to their portal and there are old and outdated assets available in the ad builder.
Brands should establish a defined cadence for adding new or updating current assets in their ad builder to ensure channel partner engagement, program adoption and, ultimately, supporting product and service sales. As part of the asset update process, utilization reports should be analyzed to determine what types of assets are being used the most and driving the most program impact. For example, if digital banner ads are being utilized by channel partners, those assets should be updated more often compared to an asset type that is not used as much.
As part of that utilization analysis, brands can also determine the staged priority for updating assets as well. In other words, update the assets that are driving the most desired outcomes first.
Easy-to-use Programs and Services
Seamless technologies and updated and impactful assets are only as good as the customer experience that is delivered in terms of a brand’s overall channel program and the corresponding services provided to support those programs. If a brand’s channel program guidelines are hard to understand and implement, channel partners may be less inclined to take advantage of a co-op or MDF program.
Similarly, the support services a channel program provider implements on behalf of a brand should be easy to access and utilize. A provider’s support team should be an extension of a brand’s channel team, providing assistance, insights and program oversight that strengthens the relationship between a brand and its channel partners. The most successful support teams not only serve as stewards of a brand’s channel program but play a key role in ensuring a positive customer experience between the brand and its channel partners.
For channel marketers, customer experience is more than a consumer’s perceptions and interactions with a brand’s products and services. It’s important for brands that rely on channel partners to sell their products and services to consider the customer experience of their channel partners as well. By delivering seamless and integrated technologies, ensuring program elements are meeting the current needs of channel partners, and providing program and support services that are easy to utilize, brands can enhance their channel partners’ customer experience and deliver desired outcomes.
About Channel Fusion
For 20 years, Channel Fusion has been delivering strategy, customer experience and return on investment outcomes for brands and their channel partners with a wide variety of solutions and industry expertise. We continue to invest in the overall ecosystem of our channel marketing offering to ensure our clients provide their partners with an optimal customer experience. Our core technologies and configurable platforms are supported by a team of customer-centric “Fusers.” Let us know if you’d like to learn more about how we deliver desired outcomes for brands and their channel partners.