If you still think the term “customer experience” is exclusively B2C, you’re going to have a hard time closing in 2019. In fact, a study of 880 decision-makers uncovered that for every dollar spent to improve the customer experience, businesses got back three in return—with an 11 percent increase in revenue expected for the next year.
It’s a lesson B2C businesses learned long ago. In today’s “experience economy,” selling memorable moments around products is almost more important than the products themselves. Today, B2B businesses are finally starting to catch up.
Here’s how to get the right information into what your buyers want from their customer journey so you can deliver a tailored experience that keeps them coming back for more.
Use Inside Insight to Tailor Your Customer Experience
Building the solid foundation to an outstanding customer experience begins with—who else—your customers. So before you can set out on crafting a positive customer experience, you need intel on what they want.
The B2B customer is not so much an individual as it is a conglomerate, made up of of various decision-makers and end users within a company. This diversity is most likely why so many B2B businesses have shied away from prioritizing customer experience, despite the clear benefits, as the customer is much more difficult to pin down and define then the B2C buyer.
So as you start out gathering information on your customers, look toward any contacts you may have in your network who have inside insight into your prospects’ organizations. A former executive at the businesses you’re looking to target will be able to lay out all the different decision-makers and influencers on the table and help you get a sense for their preferences, personalities, and pain points.
Connecting with customers on their level is one of the major tenets of a solid customer experience, so lean on your contacts for as much intel as possible during this key information-gathering phase. One B2B organization even went so far as to break down their customer base into pre-defined personality sets to help sales personnel deliver on the expectations of all parties. This allowed the reps to prepare ahead of time, knowing well in advance whether or not they would be dealing with a “controller,” a “thinker,” a “feeler,” or an “entertainer.”
Once you get a clear picture of who your customers are and what they value most, it’s time to start brainstorming ways to make them feel heard and valued throughout all phases of their buying journey.
Build a CX Focused on Convenience and Personalization
As you start looking into ways to improve the customer experience for your clients, keep simplicity, convenience, and responsiveness top of mind. It’s true that the best customer experiences manage to connect with buyers on an emotional level—which is great if you’re selling Cadillacs, but a bit more difficult to do at the enterprise level. Performance beats prestige here, so focusing on simplicity and reducing effort as much as possible for your clients will yield the best results.
Any areas where you can reduce effort for your customers will be seen as a huge value-add. If, when working with an insider, you learned about a particular area that has frustrated your client in the past make sure to emphasize how your process has built-in workarounds to prevent those kinds of headaches from happening again.
The more you can personalize your product to meet their needs and make their life easier, the better. Are there any process improvements you could implement to make account renewals or upgrades more user-friendly? If none of these processes are supported by mobile or online platforms, then that could be a major area to invest in to improve accessibility and ease of use. With so many vendors competing for the same business, B2B buyers will welcome offerings that can cut through the noise and zero in on their needs—they may even be willing to pay 16 percent more to get it.
And if they do, great! But remember, the customer experience doesn’t end with a sale. How well you and your team can provide support after the fact plays a significant role in determining overall levels of customer satisfaction. Continue to stay in contact with your clients. Notify them of any new product features and provide access to tutorials or information sessions to help them use your product to its fullest potential.
Deliver on Today’s Digital Expectations
Learning about your customers and making their lives easier is only half of the equation. While it’s true that emphasizing the human element wherever possible is a key differentiator this day and age, that doesn’t mean you need to leave digital by the wayside.
In fact, finding the happy medium is exactly what today’s buyers are craving, so expand your existing customer service infrastructure to account for support across all channels. Multichannel customers were found to be 15 percent more profitable than digital-only ones and 25 percent more profitable than those still in the dark ages using human-only interaction. Today’s big spenders are looking for multichannel experiences, so deliver on this expectation, bring these kind of customers into your business, and share in the wealth.
Create a portal to collect and monitor real-time customer feedback, or create an exclusive forum with access reserved only for current account holders to discuss features of your service and share tips. This serves two purposes: creating both a sense of exclusivity and another avenue for customers to get their issues resolved quickly. The best customer experiences are created by proactive partners that can anticipate customer concerns and address them from the outset. Mine these channels to identify common problems and resolve them ahead of time before bringing in new clients.
While investing in these resources will require additional costs upfront, the end result will be worth it. Think about it: Over 50 percent of buyers prefer to start the buying process online, conducting their own research beforehand and reaching out to vendors later. The kind of users that may leave reviews for your product online are more often than not going to be the kind of users that expect digital tools to be integrated into the buying process in some way. Given the increased weight that today’s buyers are placing on these kinds of testimonials, you want to make sure that you can deliver on the latest trends in expectations to avoid losing out on business during this crucial vendor-selection phase.
B2B businesses still have a long way to go in providing the kind of exceptional customer experiences that are becoming the norm in the B2C space. But that means there’s huge opportunity for your business to stand out if you can get it right. Consider a hybrid approach, that combines in-depth human insight with up-to-date digital tools to deliver an experience that’s personalized to your customers and convenient for them every step of the way.