Search in B2B: the good, the bad and the ugly

Search is good!

There is no debate – search engines are brilliant. The volume of content they make available is amazing. They certainly help us vendors get traffic to our sites.  Search engines are good!

But search can be bad too…

But have you ever noticed how some people get better search results than others?  The fact is using the ‘right’ term can yield far better results. That’s part technical: how you use the engine – and part knowledge: do you know enough about what you are looking for.

For an expert with a precise need – searching is pretty straight forward.  The converse is also true – a vague term or incorrect terminology can have you flicking through pages of irrelevant results.

Apply this to B2B ecommerce. The way a customer searches for a product is different to the people ‘on the inside’ – their level of product expertise is significantly different.. To my wife a ‘slinky’ is neither some sort of undergarment, nor is it a coiled spring that can perform acrobatics, but instead a ‘punched pocket’.  Apparently ‘everyone’ calls them that – except people selling office supplies! So this is why search engines are bad and the need for search term optimisation. BUT optimising search terms consumes a lot of resources, – it is often a hit and miss affair and results are not guaranteed

And at times search just becomes ugly

But here’s the rub, what happens when an existing customer tries to buy something from you they can’t find. If your site search fails to quickly return ‘correct’ results the customer will divorce you and find themselves beating a path to the competition. Search then becomes plain ugly!

The power of dialogue

Back in the real world, it’s rather different.  Imagine the conversation…

“I would like some slinkies please”

“I’m not sure I’m familiar with those, what do you use them for?”

“Really? You put bits of paper in them to hold them in a ring binder”

“Ahh.  Punched pockets, of course. We have several types, clear or frosted?”

Dialogue is much more powerful than search, because it enables an exchange of information which means firstly it is possible to uncover intent and secondly it allows for an exchange of information to clarify need. The result is that dialogue delivers a refined requirement, and a description that matches product data.

Introducing dialogue achieves better product selection, more closed sales, higher selling prices.

So what’s the solution…?

I thought you’d never ask! One solution is our software that delivers Account Management Online: it brings that dialogue in a consistent, accurate and scalable way. Customers are served by your best salesperson every time, explain what they want in their words and then benefit from expert product selection, all wrapped up in an outstanding customer experience. You profit from service online.

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