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3 Key Lessons to Improve B2B Customer Experience

By: SmallBizClub

 

Key Lessons to Improve B2B Customer Experience

Delivering great customer experience nowadays matters as much to B2B companies as it does to their B2C counterparts.

The statement should not come as a surprise, really, considering how much the B2B world has evolved within the last decade, owing to the rapid advances of digital technology. There are now for instance, more potential touchpoints where business customers can interact with the products or services, as well as more information accessible for them to help make a purchase decision. Empowered by these newfound capacities, these business customers are more or less growing akin to B2C customers, with similar expectations for experience that are arguably harder to satisfy.

Many companies consequently have begun to take heed of the shift. According to research by Accenture, 79 percent of B2B executives believed differentiated customer experience directly affects their business and 78 percent believed it could actually provide competitive advantage. The benefit of this adaptation is also supposed true, with McKinsey suggesting it could lead to a 10 to 20 percent reduction in serving cost and 10 to 15 percent increase in revenue growth.

But a problem exists, and it lies on a simple question on how to do it right. From the same Accenture research, it was found only 23 percent of surveyed B2B companies generated strong returns from their strategies to improve customer experience. In other words, a staggering 77 percent performed poorly.

What did these companies do wrong?

Mainly, they came unprepared. The process of creating exceptional customer experience is much more complex in the B2B world—it requires skills, tools and resources greater than those in B2C. The journey too is far longer and more complicated, and most of these companies weren’t ready to execute their strategies properly. A real commitment is needed—there’s no going halfway.

In the light of all this, improving B2B customer experience thus poses as a daunting task, but nevertheless it’s not impossible. For B2B companies who are still up for the challenge, some key lessons from the leading practitioners—the 23 percent – should definitely come in handy. They encompass the following:

Take customer service to the next level

B2B customer service arguably is different than those of B2C but nevertheless it proves to be as significant. This is considering that, among many others, product innovation is more occasional and long-term relationship often takes place within the B2B industry, and thus a more immersive customer service in B2B could actually be a point of differentiation in determining whether a customer would stick around with the business or not.

In taking it beyond common expectation, most importantly the service shouldn’t exist in the end or in a separate silo of a customer lifecycle. It needs to be embedded not only after the sales process but also before, ensuring a more holistic approach. According to Diane Gordon, the intent of such approach is more about creating relationships, rather than just individual transactions, since a solid one would help customers ‘tolerate some bumps in the road.’

One way of incorporating service during a pre-purchase process can be observed through the example of BMW, which started ushering in product geniuses in its dealerships early 2015. These experts act as lifestyle advisors by demonstrating BMW’s features to prospective customers, helping them experience the product early in the buying process.

Invest more in customer-centric technology

The key to effectiveness and efficiency in meeting customers’ needs and demands (hence creating a fulfilling experience) lies in the use of appropriate technology. Failing to keep up with these digital advances would not only render most customer experience strategies obsolete, but also exacerbate the risk of financial loss in the long run.

According to Accenture, the investment itself needs to be strategic and ideally be accomplished within many different areas, ranging from eCommerce, customer self-service to mobile enablement. All in all, the primary goal B2B companies need to keep in mind is to streamline and simplify the customer journey, making it easier for customers to connect, experience and interact with your products.

The benefit for such investment extends further in equipping team members to better assist the customer. For instance, having real-time customer data can help provide insights into what customers are looking for so the sales or service team can engage them with relevant piece of information.

Map out customers and their journeys

As McKinsey suggested, the importance of such effort originates from the complexity B2B companies face in delivering experience. That is, they generally have to deal with multiple customers each with varying needs, and thus pleasing all of them is evidently going to be more difficult. Consider the case of a B2B company selling a SaaS product, for instance. Not only does the company have to respond to the concern of prospective decision makers who first encounter their product, but they also need to address the later needs of the team as well as end users who are eventually going to use it. This process evidently gets more complicated with the increase in the number of stakeholders, and thus painstakingly mapping each of the journey, satisfaction and needs becomes pivotal.

The reward itself is evident. Dedicated companies would be able to better anticipate customers’ struggles and needs, ensuring they keep satisfaction high at all times. It also helps show customers that the company is being proactive, nurturing customers’ trust that they would receive a great overall customer experience for the days to come.

Allan TanoemargaAuthor: Allan Tanoemarga is a content writer at Bornevia who mainly writes about customer support, business culture and growth, and content marketing in general. His prior experience includes working for up to two years in Australia’s both offline and online media.

Published: July 19, 2016
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