This is the second of four blog posts detailing how Agilent answered those questions to achieve a successful, integrated, customer experience that supports marketing and pleases customers.
Over the past decade, Agilent recognized a growing need for deeper customer relationships. As in most B2B companies, customer relationships had traditionally been in the hands of the sales team who work with people in various roles at each account and knew their goals, issues, and requirements. This person-to-person knowledge had gradually eroded with the advent of channel partners and larger sales territories, and is difficult to share even as company-wide knowledge of customers has become more important to achieve sales, support, and quality goals. CRM and ERP systems did not store the customer data that would make sales and marketing more effective. With a majority of sales coming from existing customers, knowing who they are and what they want became a strategic imperative.
Agilent’s web site was an obvious vehicle for increasing customer intimacy. But historically, customers have been using Agilent.com as a reference library, a source of software updates, product specifications, and technical documentation. Marketing campaigns were generalized blasts, one-and-done rather than targeted and multi-touch.
As the second decade of the century began, Agilent adopted a strategic initiative to make Agilent.com a vehicle for customer engagement that would improve the effectiveness of sales and marketing.
B2B customer relationships are always a challenge, because the “customer” is a company, and the customer is also many different people with very different roles. Agilent knows some customers quite well, and others hardly at all. Agilent has a close relationship with the technicians whose career is measurement, and with purchasing departments. But many customers are hidden from Agilent, including customers who have purchased their equipment from a third party, as well as production engineers who only occasionally look to Agilent for information. Agilent may not have data about the model of equipment they rely on, or their contact information, or even their names. The first objective was to identify more customers, and then understand what each person wanted.
MyAgilent is central to learning about these customers, as well as a vehicle for engaging them. Better customer information means Agilent can tailor communications to the most relevant information. When a customer downloads an update, it’s a fair bet he is using that model. Future communications can include critical information about that model. Without that information, Agilent can’t effectively notify customers that, for example, an update has been released. Think about it: if every week you get a News email that includes a dozen “critical” messages about products you don’t use, you are not going to open the News. Conversely, if the News is all “must know” information, you wouldn’t miss it.
Mike Kawasaki, Agilent’s head of e marketing, observes a sea change in marketing that he sees as another step in Agilent’s transformation. He described it this way: “10-15 years ago manufacturing went through major changes, with plant consolidation, overseas production, and new supply chain processes. 5 yrs ago, channels were transformed with the advent of channel partners and programs. Now marketing’s transformation has begun. I think it is a 5 year journey that will end with marketing responsible for customer touch, identifying where they are in the buying process, and managing customer data. Sales and marketing will align by region, country, and account type. The game has just begun –we are in the third inning.”
Mike cites a key lesson from this experience: the team “really underestimated the complexity of pulling data from and sending data among the various systems that are connected to MyAgilent. It was a much greater technical challenge than expected. It took several tries to find a technology partner that could deliver the necessary functionality.”
MyAgilent is nearing the conclusion of a 3-year development roadmap. Its current capabilities unquestionably deliver value to customers, who are signing up for and using it at an accelerating rate. It delivers the following benefits to Agilent’s marketing team:
• MyAgilent’s value gives customers reason to identify themselves, enabling Agilent to learn who their customers are and engage them in dialog
• Customer actions and stated interests enhance the customer profile, aiding planning and campaign design
• Richer customer profiles enable Marketing to send most engaging News, offers and alerts
• MyAgilent provides an easy way for customers to tell Agilent which equipment they are working with (model and serial number)
• The MyAgilent page provides a venue for marketing communications
Jim Armentrout, head of marketing for the EU region, sees MyAgilent as a dramatic and necessary move, critical for pre- and post- sales. “The simple act of putting multiple tools and logins in one place is a big step forward. The newer aspects, such as user groups, dialogs and news, create a community of interested customers. If customers find it valuable, then they will come back, which gives me a chance to have great customer profiles. I can be selective about customer communications. I tailor every campaign. It is more efficient for us, and even better, we aren’t sending spam to customers.”
Agilent Technologies is a world-leading measurement company. Its singular focus on measurement helps scientists and engineers alike with its designs and manufacturing of scientific instrumentation. The company is organized into four business groups: Chemical Analysis, Life Sciences, Diagnostics and Genomics, and Electronic Measurement. You might remember Agilent’s birth in 1999 as a spin-off from HP. This case study reflects customer experience and marketing evolution at the Electronic Measurement Group of Agilent.
Agilent is an illuminating example of how – and why—companies can succeed with personalization initiatives.