Building communications networks isn’t for meek service providers. They need to configure the right copper, fiber, and equipment and services to carry the voice, video, and data workloads of today and tomorrow. It’s a very high-touch process, and it can’t really be done with a traditional, consumer-like ecommerce interface.
Or can it? Calix, a $500 million telecommunications product and solutions company, has identified several B2B customer self-service scenarios—such as when customers know precisely what they want—where it makes sense to do exactly that. The company is borrowing a page from the B2C world to build a next-gen B2B ecommerce site that helps its customers—several hundred communications service providers around the world whose combined networks, in turn, serve more than 100 million subscriber lines—conduct purchases in their business lives in much the same way they do in their personal lives: self-service transactions initiated and completed during a single visit to the company’s website.
Calix is updating a purchasing system that currently requires multiple steps not only from customers but also from its own employees. Whenever customers want to make a purchase using the system, they need to get a price quote first, and then create a purchase order. “So customers send over a list of the parts they need,” says Doug Berringer, a solutions architect for Calix. “They know exactly what they want because they’ve ordered from us 100 times before, so they’ll ask, ‘Hey, can you create a quote for me?’ One of these quotes can take around 30 minutes, and it eats up precious time for the salesperson, who’s distracted from selling to new customers.”
The CEO wanted something different, says Berringer. “He said, ‘We need to take on more initiatives that allow our sales team to focus on new customers and new products.’ That means being more efficient in how we sell to existing customers.” The mandate? Free up salespeople from lower-value transactions while providing a complete, professional, self-service ecommerce experience for business customers.
Connecting the Commerce Dots
To provide a more consumer-like experience, Calix chose Oracle Commerce Cloud to enable customer browsing and purchasing and integrated it with its current Oracle CPQ Cloud implementation for self-service configurations, quoting, and pricing.
But before Calix could roll out the new system to customers, it needed a way to integrate customer and account information from its CRM system. It chose Oracle Integration Cloud Service to connect CRM data to Oracle Commerce Cloud, which pools that data on the other end of the Oracle Integration Cloud Service connection. “The integration is so much smoother, and our ability to iterate is so much faster, because in our implementation and integration, all of the intelligence we’ve built up over the years lives in Oracle CPQ Cloud, while Oracle Commerce Cloud serves as the front end,” Berringer says.
It may not be quite as easy as some B2C transactions, given the complex nature of Calix customers’ business requirements, but with the new system, now in a controlled availability test phase, customers are able to use self-service to select the parts they want and complete a quote. Phase 2 will add the ordering capabilities that allow customers to close out the transaction online. Initial results have the Calix sales team clamoring to get the new system in the hands of their customers as soon as possible.
By leveraging the cloud for ecommerce as well as several other areas of its business, Calix is taking advantage of the support and upgrades that Oracle provides. “Oracle is constantly iterating on the product, and we take advantage of those benefits. We’ll keep the legacy customer-order tool for those who still like it, but integrating and extending it with something more modern is important,” says Berringer. Being able to “polish rough edges” before exposing the new system to customers was crucial, and given the speed of change possible with cloud implementations, “Calix never even considered an on-premises solution,” he says.
Doug Berringer will present “Driving Customer Self-Service Experiences with Oracle CPQ Cloud and Oracle Commerce Cloud” at Modern Customer Experience on April 26, 2017, in Las Vegas.