Great customer experience. It’s obvious when it happens and quite frustrating when it doesn’t. Websites like Zappos, Hilton and United Airlines are investing significant time, energy and money to ensure that you are not just satisfied …they want you so thrilled that you tell others about the experience. To accomplish this, they have given us better online tools that allow us to search, transact, track and even get support without picking up the phone.

So why is it that this same passion for automating the customer experience is not happening in B2B? I have a few thoughts. It could be a fear of losing that personal touch. Or maybe it’s the feeling that their products are “just too complex”. In the end, it often comes down to the guy on the left. He represents the old way of doing things. I’m sure this guy works at your office. He might even be the owner or CEO of your company. Regardless… the primary reason you have not changed is “because we’ve always done it that way”.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the major differences between a B2C order and a B2B order. I realize that there are some exceptions but, in most cases, you will find that B2B customers are still calling a rep, still using paper and still calling customer service when there is a problem. The chart below outlines a few more…

The good news is that most B2B companies are aware of this issue and are starting the conversations to enact change. A few of them are hiring the talent to make a change immediately and will likely become industry pacesetters. The majority are stuck in a committee trying to plan their “strategy” or next steps.

B2B companies need to realize that the next generation of buyers does not want a phone call. It’s no longer about your great products. Great digital experiences will determine your success or failure with the customer.

If you are one of the leaders driving change now, I would propose 5 keys to help you transform the B2B experience for your customers:

  1. Personalize your B2B – Ensure that the websites are built for each user type you sell to
  2. Simplify your Search – Intuitive search which also recommends products to each user type
  3. Make it Easy to Purchase – Quick order and ability to reorder asap for new and current customers
  4. Constant Communication – Order updates, new products, promotions and educational content
  5. 24/7 Service – Live chat, FAQ and the option for a live voice if needed