In this article, we are going to look into the importance of focusing on B2B customer experience and the factors that make the B2B customer experience management a success.
A B2C customer experience tend to be extremely fleeting in nature. Most of the interactions that happen between a business and their customers turn out to be extremely unmemorable for both parties, since the length of partnership is extremely limited.
While in case of a B2B customer experience management, the experience between clients and businesses last long. For example, a customer can work closely with a business on a project on IT implementation. And during this time, the bond that they share can break or strengthen depending on the experience that the customer receives.
With the amount of money and end game outcome at stake being a lot higher in case of a business to business setup than one which comes packaged with a B2C setup, the errors or mistakes that a business makes will be ignored a lot less.
Above all, rectifying the errors turns out to be a more costly affair in case of a B2B setup than in the B2C space.
No matter how well you aim to connect with a business prospect, there can never be utmost synergy. There will always be some approach or some framework that would be different in the businesses - leading to a void between the two entities.
This void, in turn, can either help grow the two businesses together or break them at the back of superiority complex. The reality of the outcome lies entirely on the customer experience that the service provider business is able to offer - the more streamlined it is the fewer will be the discrepancy issues.
Now that the role of customer experience in improving the B2B setup has been established. Let us move on to the ‘how’ - How to better your B2B customer experience management process.
Every quality automated and personalized customer interaction goes beyond the typical ‘purchase funnel’. It extends to the plethora of activities that are involved for meeting customers’ needs - from fulfilment of customer support and their billing - everything should be devised to provide nothing but the best to the customers.
Segmenting the customers according to their buying behaviour and needs enable companies to develop custom-made experiences for all the different groups.
These customer requirements can vary according to the business type - small companies having unpredictable purchase plans to the multinational corporations backed by analytical, technology-centric buying processes. It can also vary greatly on the basis of the product type.
However, in spite of the plethora of differences, the B2B customers normally fall in either of these three user persona groups, with each of them having their key features for building personalized experiences.
The “One-click” customers: This customer class is made of small accounts that tend to transact with businesses as if they are consumers and not businesses. They are a lot more expensive to serve at scale and more often than not, lack the technological sophistication. One good example can be the user base of cloud-as-a-service providers. They want access to the software in one click and their perception of the product is equally effected by the user interface as it is by the functionality.
The Analytical customers: This demography belongs to those sophisticated medium and large sized accounts, which gather detailed market intelligence for getting informed on the purchase decisions. This customer segments requires a much higher personalized set of services from their providers.
The Solutions customers: These are the large account customers who require even greater customization than the analytical buyers, since they have multiple non-commercial challenges like extensive regulation, high liability risks, and stricter security standards.
The most well-curated B2B customer journey calls for advanced digital abilities, in four primal areas:
Insight-offering relationships: Businesses need to have a complete understanding of who their customers are, what purpose is served with each purchase, and the factors that drive their buying decisions. For this, it is very important that the insight should guide interactions at all stages - product design, marketing, and engineering.
Friction-less interaction: Businesses should make it extremely easy for the customers to buy their offering and for that, they should facilitate seamless buying and selling transactions through digital technologies. The aim here should be to automate or eliminate the cumbersome processes and interactions - from ordering, payment through fulfillment and replenishment, end-customer service, and the back-office functions.
Omnichannel integration: The sellers must identify the customers’ choice of interaction channel - email, phone, face-to-face, and even whatsapp - all the while ensuring that a consistent customer experience is maintained and the view of the customer is streamlined across all the channels.
Platform business models: Businesses should explore working models and open platforms which facilitates collaboration and integration across the entire value chain, via data-driven services and products (like the proactive, predictive, and preventative field-service models active on all the connected devices).
For many businesses, moving in the direction of consumer-focused B2B model is a signal of radical cultural shift, which calls for new processes of working and brainstorming, throughout the organization. The B2B organizations, which constantly offer consumer-level digital services have the know-how of how sales, marketing, IT, product development, and other functions impact the customers’ experience. These organizations break down all the traditional silos and create cross-functional teams that are ready for optimizing every interaction that happens between a company and their business customers.
Backed by the power of autonomy and resources the teams create concepts; test, filter, and deploy innovations, which are aimed at the creation of a friction-less experience for their customers. They make use of agile methods to create minimum viable products (MVPs) which deploy customer benefits speedily and in a tangible manner, requiring very less investment. By concentrating on the outcomes, they are able to keep track of and adjust the KPIs that measure the progress against the organizational goals, like better customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, and user retention.
Here were the four steps that come together to make a B2B customer experience management process a success for the business. Ultimately, it all comes down to an individual business’s intent that they carry to make their offering more human and business centric. While these steps will take a business closer to their business customers, the steps will have to be brought into practice and shouldn’t be treated as a one time initiatives.
Author Bio: Akanksha