The business world is seeing drastic changes owing to the challenges thrown by the technology-driven demands of the customers. B2C (business to consumer) industry has already started running in the direction of customer experience (CX); B2B (business to business) is taking baby steps to move forward. There are wide differences in the operations of B2C and B2B approaches, but both of them intersect at a point called “customer experience”. Unlike the previous era, where having the best product or pricing range would suffice to achieve success, the focus is now shifting to service and support for business sustainability.
While previously, customer experience did not account much when it came to B2B transactions, the scenario is now rather changed. As more and more buyers and decision-makers are browsing the internet, checking the comparisons, hearing out to what existing customers of a brand say, the survival in the market is becoming tough! The fear of CX- as scary it may sound, but it unlocks the doors of opportunities on the other side. By this, I refer to the ways a supplier company can use CX as a weapon or a factor of attraction to its buyers.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
– Charles Darwin
This quote by Darwin seems to be quite apt and relevant for the current B2B market situation. One may be having the oldest empire, or may be a very smart solution to offer but if the support systems are not in place and service teams are not up-to-mark, it is quite possible to fall down. The modern businesses seek responsiveness, fulfilment to the commitment, positive attitude, proactivity, connectedness and seamlessness to deliver service excellence. B2B relations need to be maintained above just one-time transactions and adapt as per the changing environment.
Doing CX right is not just an option but a mandate. When we talk about B2C, their responsibility of providing support and service comes at the last stage of sales cycle. It is more or less related to the problem arising with the use of a product and may require a couple of interactions. But for B2B, CX is a journey with many touchpoints that starts right from the planning, marketing, goes through the sales cycle, tailoring the support and continues for forever till the association between two companies is intact. The reasons being – B2B involves long-term contracts, critical impact on working, heavy pricing, functional dependencies and a level of trust and commitment.
Customer experience acts as a catalyst to increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). The way your employees understand and respond to your customers certainly increases the chance to hold your customer and make them spread a word about your reliable services. Thus, it certainly matters on how deeply you nest the CX responsibility in mapping your business marketing & other processes. For instance, to begin with, one needs to understand and answer the following questions-
Who is your customer?
Why are they buying your solution?
Will your offerings fit in their requirements?
What are the ways your solution is adding a value to their business?
On which different stages will they need your support?
How long would you like to associate with the customer?
Only 23% of B2B marketers claim to have a customer-centric—versus a channel- or product-centric—organisational structure
Every customer interaction acts as a teacher to make you learn some or the other valuable thing. It is up to you on how you utilise this chance, collect the information, collaborate with the team and work on it. Because in B2B it’s not just a single call, but the calls may be repeated. The changing expectations can be well-understood with in-depth analysis of CX between buyers and vendor communication. A winning strategy should incorporate a sharp focus and learning in following areas:
Hear them out, hear them right! B2B interactions have expanded across various mediums, traditional methods are not just enough. Decision-makers tend to browse forums, check the views, look at your website, blog, the active support on social media, etc. before buying a solution. Capturing data from every interaction, taking periodic feedback and asking for suggestions can provide scope for improvements. Penetrate all the information in a centralised system and benefit from the analysis of what the figures have to say about your product, support and staff.
B2C products may be limited to dealing with an individual and solving his problem related to a particular product. But B2B support interactions are complex! You are selling a holistic solution that may be used by multiple users with a varied degree of knowledge and may have a different interest in using or buying it. When communicating and providing support to each one of them, it will give your agents diverse dimensions to comprehend their concern and make it up to serve every purpose. Also, it requires patience to help them out in a way and language they understand.
It is always preferable by one and all to work at their own convenience. IT consumerisation has diminished geographical boundaries quite well, but still companies need to take care of delivering as per their commitment. Due to different time zones, there might be a gap in providing a timely response. Whenever you expand your business and extend your services, ensure your availability, reach out to your clients virtually to solve their issues. Also, conducting shows, visiting their premises for training, friendly gestures, new upgrades and introducing services instigates a feeling of connectedness.
Hard facts and real case studies work well in B2B deals – is a true fact. But, it has been observed that a personal bond retains loyalty and drives a long term business relation. Customer-centric initiatives are always appreciated in support interactions. Building personal relationships in such a manner that your client feels that your employees are genuinely concerned for them, hearing them and available to them to solve their problems. Their pain points can be your assets to control the damage over personal bonds, improve the process and be assured of the association.
Being static is good only for providing a seamless experience. Otherwise, dynamic and flexible are the philosophies to lead and adapt. Changing requirements are not new to B2B, especially IT and SaaS-based platforms. With the rapid developments in this segment, one can witness a series of changes in client requirements. However, the secret to CX is perceived it well beforehand considering the business areas they are serving based on the history of interactions. This prepares your team to rise above the challenges in a well-structured manner.
Nobody can ignore the effect of word-of-mouth and reference based sales and marketing in B2B industry deals. Buyers find it easier to trust the existing users and consider their views on a particular solution in question. To be a favourite amidst your clients, foster a customer-centric culture in your company and create a brand value that is propagated through your work. The impact of a seamless and standard outcome never goes unnoticed and is surely going to bring in those magical revenues and accelerate your sales cycle.
As the statistics suggest, customers are 5.2X more likely to purchase from companies with a great customer experience
Indulge in an iterative process of innovation with employee engagement at each stage, regardless of their job title and maintain consistency in all interactions. Move forward to 5 years from now and you will find customer experience will be one of the major deciding factors to choose a company and its services over any other. The execution of CX strategy is a must-have to grow your business and earn a reputation. Little steps with a personalised touch shall make this journey impeccable!
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