In 2016, Orange became the first European company to equip its 2000-strong dedicated French business sales team with a fully digitalised and mobilised work environment. Here is some experience gained thanks to an innovation that is reinventing customer relations and enhancing sales staff’s experience
What risks were involved in your 2016 project to digitalise the work environment of your B2B sales personnel?
We wanted to respond to the expectations of our sales staff who wanted a work environment that was better suited to their needs...something more modern, user-friendly, mobile and efficient. At the same time, this project gave us the chance to integrate more flexible, mobile and collaborative methods of working into our various different entities. It provided us with a foothold from which to move forward with a more comprehensive adoption of digital through workshops on the uses of professional social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn). Finally, this innovative work environment served as a lever to make our ambition of becoming “our customers’ trusted digital transformation partner” a reality since it enabled us to show off our expertise, while also providing the first “business case” in this area, which we could then present to our customers.
What are the key features of this new digital and mobile work environment?
Our sales personnel are now kitted out with a 4G tablet computer that means our business’s traditional work environment is able to coexist and interact with a new application-based and collaborative one. They use classic mode, which comes with a keyboard, for work on their office PC and touch mode when on the go, which gives them smooth and secure access to new job-related applications supplementing their expertise, as well to a whole host of collaborative tools from our products and services range (videoconferencing, virtual meeting rooms, document sharing and storage, security). In order to make our sales teams keen to get their hands on this piece of innovative technology, we set several benchmark requirements such as weight, dimensions, performance and design. We worked very hard to develop the application environment and make it really digital and interactive. We geared it towards the “customer” and “activity management” so as to provide our sales staff with the solutions they were hoping for, while also bringing the topic of the digital transformation to life for our customers.
And isn’t it true that you also involved sales staff in the digitalisation of their work environment and assisted them throughout that transformation?
Yes, we did involve future users in the hardware selection and testing process and, most importantly, invited them to work together with us to co-construct their new environment so as to ensure that they were completely satisfied with and able to use the final product. By adopting agile, people-focused methods we were able to complete the solution in less than 6 months. When the switchover day eventually came, every member of our sales team took charge of their own migration from their old working environment to their new one completely autonomously.
We also made a point of offering managerial support to help sales staff through the digital transformation that was seeing their methods of working and job role change massively. That’s why we ran a training course with an e-learning component, a hands-on workshop and a digital induction session to facilitate the new workstation’s deployment.
In what way will the tablet change how your sales staff sell?
One of the project’s aims was to get our salespeople to sit down with their tablet PCs beside the customer and not opposite them as in times gone by. The reasoning for this being that they can then be more lively and interactive when helping customers find their way around, while also providing exactly the expertise they need. Mission accomplished! By virtue of this light, hands-on working environment equipped with intuitive and customisable applications, our sales personnel are able to set up and hold meetings while maintaining a 360° view of their customers. With just a few short clicks, they can send customers information about our latest developments, help them work out exactly what they need, give dynamic, interactive demonstrations, use video conferencing to call on experts to reinforce their pitch and build their proposal together with the customer in real time. In this way, they add more value: more information, services, customisation and agility, They take on the role of salesperson/consultant.
How is it reinventing customer relations?
This new work space is optimising our B2B customers’ experience with us. They are typically well informed and prefer to have a more intimate relationship, where both parties listen to one another and there is lots of interaction and a good level of responsiveness. In a competitive environment, this enables salespeople to act as advisors – to decipher customers’ individual objectives and constraints and develop bespoke, ultra-customised solutions, collaboratively and in real time. What’s more, this innovative solution of ours has been met with “wows” from customers that it has helped to plan their own transformation projects. It has built trust and helped our sales staff to gain new skills which they can use to answer any transformation-related questions from their customers and be the helping hand they need as they select the right B2B2C approach for their business and embark on their own transformation journey.
Two years on from deployment, what kind of experience and feedback have you received on the B2B sales force’s workstation transformation?
Our internal barometer is showing a high level of satisfaction among sales personnel in line with our target of enhancing the employee experience. This new work environment has also freed up extra time for managers enabling them to better assist their teams. On the customer experience side of things, we have seen our hybrid tablets’ sales go up and the number of customer transformation projects we are running is rising rapidly. Because the technology is evolving at breakneck speed, we take a continuous improvement approach to our innovation, which we are constantly looking to improve with a view to making our sales force’s lives easier. Artificial intelligence is one of the levers we are using to help our sales personnel change their focus and spend more time helping their customers.