It was a Thursday morning. I was staring at my coffee cup, trying to resolve an existential question of whether to use Starbucks or Peets. A clear sign that yet another uneventful day was about to unfold at work.
That’s when I noticed a persistent message on my phone. It was a warning from the central air conditioning system in our customer location about overheating. Right from the inception, this app has unified our experience of how we interact with all our business systems. I tapped the notification which showed a colorful live stream of temperature data with occasional spikes in temperature. No need for alarm, it said, a case will be created automatically if the pattern persisted.
I drilled-down on the Asset record to see the customer’s history – past cases, other assets, orders, opportunities, quotes, invoices & payments – all stored in different systems we had but I had a unified view. In an abundance of caution, I tapped the “Create Case” button below the beautiful data stream graph. Just one click -I didn’t have to fill any form- and it showed a new Case. It had all the information in it: customer, asset serial number etc. It even took a snapshot of the temperature data and attached it to the case.
Two hours later, the same universal app notified me that an engineer has been assigned to look into the case. Using the context, I started a in-app chat with the customer and the engineer so we could get more information about the issue, even check out the asset condition and troubleshoot the issue on video with annotations. The customer was very pleased to know we are on top of it. Pete, the engineer, had all the information he needed to resolve the issue. Using his app, he located the parts he needed at a nearby warehouse, booked them, and picked them up.
The app informed me that Pete is en route to the customer as I was one of the stakeholders on the case. I knew the customer was notified on their app too. I was now seeing Pete’s progress on a live map! (Strangely I felt hungry). Watching the customer asking Pete about a different requirement, I was able to attach one of the available promotions to the case with just a click. With this we will be able to show discounts the customer could take advantage of.
My app told me Pete was done at the customer’s site. He didn’t have to spend much time at the customer location because his app automatically populated all the data based on the work he did. The customer signed off the report using their phone app (covid safety protocols). It was also nice to receive a 5-star rating from the customer in response to an automatic survey sent to their app. They certainly were pleased with the complete digital experience we had enabled yet with a personal touch.
A day later, the customer requested a quote from the promotional campaign from their app. Our sales rep instantly created the quotation (one click) and obtained the customer’s electronic approval. The smooth, modern digital experience continued when the customer had been invoiced immediately – something that used to take 6 weeks or more earlier!
I couldn’t help but reflect on this amazing experience! As individual consumers we are so spoiled by the simple intuitive apps that we use to do just about anything – stay connected, control lighting or temperature, manage security cameras, order food & groceries, move furniture, banking, entertainment, the list goes on. I was impressed how much the experience of business apps have caught up with the consumer experience! Business users -employees, partners and customers- are all exceptionally productive with this beautiful modern digital experience.
…. Then I woke up to the sound of a neighbor’s jarring lawnmower. It was a Thursday morning. The reality of clunky, jumpy business apps sank in. It is such a shame that today’s systems of record and most of the so-called rapid app creation platforms have not delivered on the promise of agility, efficiency and modern innovations on a continuous basis. The irony is that B2B companies have access to the exact same technologies as their consumer-facing counterparts. We, whether at home or at work, deserve better.
I need coffee. I don’t care if it is Starbucks or Peets.