For two decades, Purchasing Power, an Atlanta-based voluntary benefit company, has been partnering with local and global businesses, making it possible for its employees to access important products and services immediately with flexible payment plans through payroll deduction.
By design, the Purchasing Power e-commerce platform is easy to use, but the seamless experience is only made possible by the effective digital strategy and execution led by Chief Technology Officer Prakash Muthukrishnan. As a leader in technology-driven customer experience (CX), we sat down virtually with Muthukrishnan to learn more about how the company has approached the art of CX, the role technology plays in enabling it, and where Purchasing Power is heading next.
A Transformation Journey Defined by Customer Experience
Purchasing Power launched in 2001 and quickly gained market leadership in the voluntary benefits market thanks to its strong customer support and offerings. However, it reached an inflection point in 2014.
While Purchasing Power had developed strong customer relationships using traditional engagement channels, Muthukrishnan anticipated that the company would need to evolve as the pace of technological innovation increased. The first capability they saw as an opportunity: more robust functionality that would automate the merchandizing department and give the company a more enhanced view of inventory on its Web site. In conjunction, the company needed the Web site to complement its recently launched mobile app, creating a true end-to-end experience for its customers.
SAP Commerce quickly emerged as a solution that could power Purchasing Power’s multi-year digital transformation journey aimed at unlocking these capabilities.
Muthukrishnan’s focus on mobile experience would ultimately pay off for Purchasing Power. “Seven years later, more than 70% of our business’s traffic comes through mobile channels,” he said.
Since 2014, Purchasing Power’s digital transformation strategy has been anchored around the end user’s experience. After rolling out new Web site functionality, Muthukrishnan’s team followed with new mobile app features, including customer communication and smart notifications, that unlocked an ability to quickly discover new customer behaviors and to test promotions.
The results spoke for themselves: utilizing automation increased customer satisfaction and enabled new business capabilities that improved the overall customer experience.
What’s Next for Purchasing Power?
As the SAP Commerce solution has evolved in functionality, Purchasing Power’s e-commerce solution has grown along with it. Muthukrishnan has had his finger on the pulse of the solution since it was initially implemented in 2014, rolling out new self-service features as available by SAP. Under his leadership, Purchasing Power’s road map calls for a technology portfolio rationalization effort to determine if the business is due for new tools or if it can utilize the tools it already has in its digital ecosystem.
This year, Purchasing Power also plans to continue to better serve its customers by finding new, exciting features to integrate into the e-commerce experience for its users. For example, Purchasing Power will leverage machine learning algorithms to segment customers and offer them more relevant promotions along with personalized content.
Undergoing a digital transformation journey isn’t always easy, but Muthukrishnan and his team have found some best practices beneficial. These include prioritizing ruthlessly, sequencing initiatives, challenging old assumptions, and working with an open, evidence-based mindset to ensure continuous value for its customers.
Given the immense success the company has seen, especially in recent years, and the rapid growth fueled by its customer experience approach, it’s safe to say Purchasing Power’s team will continue setting an example for CX practitioners for years to come.
John Tully is senior vice president and managing director of the South Region at SAP North America.