Over the past couple of decades, the concept of being able to conduct business operations virtually (both in a B2B and B2C setting) has caused a huge ripple effect for companies across the board. Perhaps no area has been impacted more than the customer experience (CX).
For the most part, customers are no longer limited by geographic location or time constraints. In other words, businesses are now able to provide solutions around the clock to people around the globe. The ripple effect of this is that customers now have more options than they know what to do with. The result is that buyers are going to gravitate to the companies that provide a stellar CX. In many ways, this concept was the catalyst that brought the “Age of the Customer” into heavy focus. In fact, studies have found that B2B buyers are 5.2x more likely to purchase from companies that prioritize a great CX.
Now, in the B2B world, this can be a VERY difficult task – as there are a plethora of factors that come into play, of which are not as prominent in B2C operations. So, without further ado, here are three critical areas of the digital CX that B2B companies need to place at the forefront.
1. Accommodation of ALL Decision Makers
Perhaps the biggest difference between B2B and B2C operations is the number of decision makers involved in a transaction. In the B2C universe, purchases are typically made by one person. As a result, the CX is more one-dimensional and can be tailored to a very specific customer. B2B transactions, on the other hand, generally involve a handful of decision-makers; most of which have their own set of interests.
For example, let’s say you are a SaaS company that sells a graphic design program for SMBs. There are several different parties you must appeal to in order to make a sale. This would typically include:
- Gatekeeper – handles most communication with your company (likely an administrative or executive assistant).
- Accountant - will determine the program’s feasibility.
- CEO/President/Owner - will make the final decision to buy.
- Graphic Designers – the ones using the program every day.
With this in mind, your CX must be properly designed to accommodate all of these stakeholders and convince each of them that your software will improve their lives.
In this scenario, it needs to be clear that your communication practices are quick and streamlined for gatekeepers. Implementing an AI-chatbot is a solution that many businesses are using for this purpose. For the accountants, you need to be 100% transparent about the costs with no surprises. To appeal to the CEO, Owner, or President, the bottom line impact needs to be clear. For instance, you need to prove how and why your solution will increase the daily output, prove that the company can take on more work by implementing the program, and in turn, boost revenue. Last, but certainly not least, the CX needs to demonstrate how it improves the day-to-day for the graphic designers on the front lines.
The key here is understanding the pain points of everyone involved in the decision-making process down to the smallest detail. With this knowledge, you can create a CX tailored to solve each one.
2. Omni-Channel Versatility
There are more digital channels available these days than ever before. While you may have a target customer segment with aligned interests, it’s very possible that the channels and touchpoints they use are very different.
For example, if you are running an international eCommerce platform, your target customers in different countries may share the same overarching interests, yet have completely different preferences when it comes to the CX. Perhaps your customers in the US prefer to reach out via live chat or social media with their questions, whereas customers in the UK would rather communicate through email.
Keep in mind, developing an omnichannel CX is an ongoing task.
There are several key strategies to ensure that you keep up with new and existing touchpoints. You can start by examining your engagement. How and where do your B2B customers typically consume and engage with your content?
- Social media?
- Organic search?
- Paid search?
You can also use data from past purchases and customer service interactions to better understand the context of your buyer relationships and better accommodate their preferences. According to a study by McKinsey, a typical B2B customer will use six different interaction channels throughout the decision making process. Ultimately, the key to a successful omnichannel strategy is making sure your organization is easily accessible across the channels that your customers use the most.
3. Education and Instruction
Another one of the colossal differences between B2C and B2B sales is that impulsiveness does not play as big of a factor in B2B. The ability to build relationships for the long haul is crucial to the success of B2B companies. That being said, your CX needs to encompass the whole picture and place a VERY high emphasis on educating and advising.
Going back to the concept of needing to appeal to multiple decision makers within a company, you simply cannot expect to make sales unless you can prove to each one throughout the CX that you are an expert resource and have the knowledge to solve the major problems. Depending on your industry, the bulk of your content should be geared towards the beginning and middle of the buyer’s journey.
If you are an agency offering SEO services, you need to create consistent content that addresses the rapidly changing landscape of this industry. The content should clearly demonstrate that you understand the finer details and can provide some expert advice. More importantly, it should be crafted in a way that proves why businesses need your expert service. For instance, following a Google algorithm update, you can talk about the major changes, potential ranking factors, and lay out the complex details on how to recover. From here, you can make it clear that SEO is a job that never stops and letting a team of specialists handle it is one of the wisest decisions a business can make.
In general, B2B buyers are willing to shell out the extra money for a superior product or service. If you can provide expert information and advice throughout your CX, it’s a prime indicator that your solution can solve your potential customers’ problems.
Over to You
In the B2B world, some would argue that CX is just as important as the product or service.
Creating a CX that gives new, existing, and potential customers everything they need is not a one-off project. It is an aspect of your business that needs to be monitored relentlessly and refined as needed. Digital solutions, platforms, and touchpoints are changing by the day, if you don’t adjust your CX accordingly, your competitors will!
I am Natalia Hawkins, a content writer, and a blogger.