Even a small investment in sales automation can lead to satisfactory results

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A study on the user experience (UX) delivered by sales automation tools in the B2B context was completed for the DIVA project by the master’s degree student Outi Alarakkola in December 2016. The study was conducted for Terveystalo, which is a member of the DIVA consortium as well as the largest healthcare service company in Finland. The study concentrated on a digital tool called Service Selector. The target group of the study consisted of micro business companies.

Digitalization changes radically sales processes

Digitalization changes radically sales and purchase lapparimobiili-002
processes in B2B markets. Business buyers actively search information from digital sources and make purchase decisions already before meeting sales representatives. In order to reach the B2B customers’ novel expectations, and to create value to them, the sales organizations must be able to provide purchase and other sales related services in digital channels.

Case Terveystalo

The study was done as a part of the DIVA research project, where one of the main goals is to develop new tested digital tools to support B2B marketing, sales and purchase processes in digital channels. Terveystalo already provides a wide selection of digital services for private customers, and aims at developing new digital tools also for their B2B customers. In this thesis project, Terveystalo wanted to experiment automatizing a small part of its B2B-sales service: promoting and giving information about occupational healthcare packages for micro businesses. The tool for that, the Service Selector, was designed and built in this thesis project using ZEF survey tools.

The main objective of the thesis was to study the UX delivered by the Service Selector to potential customers consisting of micro business companies. Another goal was to find out the effect of the Service Selector on both sales and on company image. In addition, the study aimed at finding out what digital B2B purchase services micro business owners find useful and to increasing the overall understanding of Terveystalo’s micro business customers.

The respondents don’t care whether they are served by a human or a machine – as long as the service quality is excellent

The research data was collected during 10.6 – 30.9.2016 from the Service Selector click data and an online questionnaire, which was launched to the Service Selector users. The response rate of the questionnaire was too low to reach generalizable results to the research questions, but a number of good ideas for the user-centric further development of the tool were collected. On the other hand, there were plenty of Service Selector users, of which 15% made an offer request to Terveystalo and whose click data could be exploited in the study. The respondents of the UX survey gave the Service Selector a grade of 5,8 on a 1 (worst grade) -7 (best grade) scale. As a conclusion, the respondents don’t seem to care whether they are served by a human or a machine. They are satisfied as long as the service is efficient, they get tailored products or services and enough information for decision making.

Even though the results of the UX study could not be considered reliable and generalizable from the point of view of quantitative research, the thesis project was successful from Terveystalo’s point of view. All the data collected about the potential micro business customers helps the sales managers and other sales personnel in the further development of digital sales related services. Terveystalo aims to continue using the Service Selector after the four-month period that this study lasted, and plans to take into use similar tools in other product areas. The most important outcome of this thesis project is that even a small investment in sales and purchase automatization can lead to satisfactory results.

Outi Alarakkola and Lili Aunimo

Outi Alarakkola graduated in December 2016 from the Master’s Degree Programme in Information Systems Management at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. She wrote her thesis “User Experience study of B2B-sales automation – case Terveystalo” under the supervision of Lili Aunimo.

Lili Aunimo is a principal lecturer at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. She also works as a researcher in the DIVA project and was the supervisor of Outi Alarakkola’s Master’s thesis.

Read more from the thesis itself at http://www.theseus.fi/handle/10024/117648