Digital selling platforms are quickly replacing phone-based and in-person selling today. Though B2C industries may be leading this change, B2B sales are not far behind. Consumerization of customer expectations is a natural outcome of this shift. Therefore having a customer-centric mindset and providing a great customer experience is becoming more critical in the B2B space as well.
90% of B2B executives say that customer experience (CX) plays a key role in helping them achieve their organization’s strategic priorities. While only 20% of B2B companies really excel at providing a good customer experience, which also reflects in their financial results.
How can you get in that 20%? While differences may exist in B2B purchase behavior, transaction processes, and decision-making dynamics, here are some time-tested ways to help you level up your customer experience game.
- Understand your customer
B2B customer journeys are typically more complex than those for retail customers. On average a B2B purchase involves between 3 and 5 decision-makers. What this means is that you need to be able to convince both the influencer as well as the decision-maker. For this to happen you need to understand what drives each buying group in the process. This helps to message at scale while providing a great experience to every part of a company that can have an influence on the final buying decision.
- Personalize Customer Experiences
It can be a challenge to create personalization in the B2B world. Oftentimes B2Bs have a wide range of clients that differ from each other much more than typical B2C customers. As their business requirements differ, so should the solution that you’re offering. Look at your online content. Is it communicating appropriate value to your diverse customer groups? Your website and online profiles are your gateways to being ‘chosen’ by your buyers. Compelling arguments on these digital platforms that solve their unique business needs can help them consider your product or solution. If your buyers come from different industries, consider customizing the messaging and value propositions that meet their needs. This can help immensely in creating a great first customer experience.
It can also be more difficult to imagine the person behind the decision making process when you are selling to a business. Behind every business decision, there is a real person with thoughts, feelings, and preferences. To avoid treating your clients as a number, create a personalized approach to marketing and sales. Personalize automated customer interactions involved in meeting customer needs. So whether it is fulfillment, billing, or customer support – strive to provide a personalized experience to your business buyers.
- Make your experience and messaging omnichannel
With B2B companies, it’s common to need multiple channels to complete purchases and get the job done. Just because your customers are jumping onto a different channel doesn’t mean that they don’t expect the same quality of experience. This is an area that B2B companies need to have a consistent focus on.
Assess if the transition from channel to channel is polished enough. Are your customers receiving the same quality of service on your website as they are when they talk directly to your customer success rep? Can they easily reach your business if they have a concern? Is the voice of your company maintained on each platform?
Through creating omnichannel experiences, you communicate to your customers that QA is a priority for your business. The more you can monitor and consolidate the necessary channels across the customer journey, the more likely your customers are to have a consistent customer experience.
- Create a smooth UX across the board
Today’s consumers, whether their B2C or B2B, expect a smooth UX. We’re well into 2020, so make sure your UX looks like it. When your UX is outdated or clunky, it damages your CX because customers spend more time being frustrated than actually making the purchases they need. A lot of B2B software’s core user experience has not been updated since the early aughts. Are you flinching uncomfortably in your seat because this sounds like you? Don’t worry, improving your UX could be as simple as updating your site navigation.
Take a look at your website. Would it be self-explanatory to someone who has never seen it before? Or does it take some time to get the hang of it? With each extra step your clients need to take to understand your site navigation, the chances increase that they will leave your site altogether in irritation. Cleaning up your site’s navigation is a great step one to improving your site’s UX and improving customer experience.
- Focus on retention
Tracking customer retention is one of the best ways to know where you’re already succeeding, and where you’re missing the mark. The good news is, B2C companies experience a higher average churn than their B2B counterparts (7.05% Vs 5%). This may be because B2B purchases are not emotional and tend to be a lot more complex and hence stickier.
Start by evaluating your customer churn rate. While some percentage of customer churn is inevitable (who has kept EVERY customer they’ve acquired?), make sure that it doesn’t rise above the threshold that you have set for your business. If you notice an increase in the average churn rate, it may be time to dig into the reasons why customers are leaving.
Have you invested heavily in sleek marketing, but your UX is still stuck in the past? Maybe your clients feel that the product hasn’t met their expectations, and this is causing them to seek out other solutions. Whatever the reason may be, identify the source of your customer churn so you can make changes to your CX to increase customer retention.
- Collect feedback and commit to improvements
Your customers are a great resource for collecting feedback. How do your customers currently feel about their CX? Conduct surveys to get a better understanding of where you are.
But, conducting surveys is only part of the puzzle. Once you have analyzed the results of the survey, be sure to share them with your customers. Transparency is key in demonstrating that you are listening to your customer’s concerns. Let them know that you have understood their feedback and your plans for improvement.
Lisa Crymes, Chief Experience Officer at DST Health Solutions:
If you show that you are going to do something [to] improve CX…clients will feel more motivated to provide feedback.
In this way, CX works in a loop. Start by collecting feedback from your customers to know where your CX is now. Then, implement a plan to show your customers how you will improve CX in the future. Once the improvements take hold, your customers will be more inclined to give you more feedback going forward.
Showing your customers that their voice matters will help boost your CX among current clients and give you valuable insights on how to get new customers.
Create stronger CX today
Though CX might feel like an overwhelming new realm, it is crucial that B2Bs put as much emphasis on positive CX as B2Cs do. In Walker’s Customers 2020: A Progress Report, it’s stated that customer experience will be the key brand differentiator in 2020, overtaking both price and product. Customer experience is the way the market is moving. Track your retention, identify your customer base, increase personalizations, invest in smooth UX, and collect feedback, to get started with fantastic CX for your B2B. So, what are you waiting for?