In the last few years, considerable attention has been paid to improving customer experience (CX) in the B2C world, however, research by Accenture Strategy makes it clear that CX is equally, if not more, important for B2B buyers as well.
In a recent report, Accenture states that “90 percent of B2B executives cite CX as a very important factor in achieving their organizations’ strategic priorities. That’s up from 86 percent who felt that way two years ago.”
An article by Mathew Sweezey published on Convince & Convert points out that 80% of B2B buyers expect the same buying experience as B2C customers, expecting companies to respond and interact with them in real time.
Talking about expectations, B2B buyers seem to be much more demanding than B2C customers. The same write-up indicated above lists that:
- Up to 75 percent of business buyers expect companies to send their company personalised offers, and
- Nearly 65 percent of business buyers are likely to look for other vendors if a company didn’t make an effort to personalise communications with their organisation.
In short, B2B marketers can no longer ignore the importance of CX, dismissing it as a B2C marketing trend.
CX Maturity of B2B Organisations
According to Gartner, 81% of companies expect to compete mostly or completely on the basis of CX in 2019. Thus, more than price or product quality, customer experience would soon be the biggest differentiator for businesses, even in the B2B space.
Source: Temkin Group
In November 2015, Temkin Group published research indicating the CX maturity level of B2B organizations. Surprisingly, only 3 percent of B2B companies were found to value customer experience as an integral part of their company culture.
Fortunately, things are changing in present times. A 2018 report on “The State of CX Management” by Temkin Group highlights that 54% of companies aspire to be industry leaders in CX in the next three years.
The report also compared CX leaders with CX laggards, and discovered that “the leaders enjoy stronger financial results, are more likely to have senior executives leading company-wide CX efforts, and employ more full-time CX employees…”
Here are some more facts about CX leaders to inspire you:
- CX leader grows 12 percent faster than CX laggards [Forrester Research].
- Brands that improve CX experience a 10-15 percent boost in revenue and up to 20 percent lower costs [McKinsey Insights].
Three Areas to Enhance Customer Experience for Business Buyers
Transforming your B2B customer experience can boost your bottom line significantly. Let us tell you how.
1. Adopt a ‘Customer-Centric’ Business Strategy
According to research, only 14 percent of large B2B companies claimed to be genuinely customer-centric in 2016. As a corollary of this statement, it is evident that much needs to be done by B2B organisations to become customer-centric.
However, this statement also provides a window of opportunity to intelligent B2B companies which can gain a competitive edge in the market and improve profitability by offering a superior customer experience to their users.
To achieve this, you must drive your organisation to be a part of the 14 percent of companies that have customer experience deeply ingrained in their company culture.
This means, you need to engage all your employees and not just someone in HR, to consistently work on understanding customer needs.
The most successful companies in this regard are those with cross-functional teams, wherein all the departments work together to influence the customer experience.
A CMO article shares that “Creating a happy customer is not a marketing-only endeavour; customer service, product development, R&D teams, operations, and IT all play a role. However, just 12% of B2B marketers said that functional teams were strongly aligned around a holistic customer experience strategy.”
The Accenture Strategy report shares an interesting diagram that shows how ‘Masters’ (CX leaders) are far ahead of their peers when it comes to building talent models and organisational mindsets centered on customer experiences.
Source: Accenture Strategy Report
2. Make It Easier for Business Buyers to Conduct Business with You (read better communication)
Across all B2B markets, the ease of doing business with a supplier is a key metric for customer loyalty and satisfaction. Therefore, companies need to make it easier for business buyers to purchase from them by facilitating seamless transactions and interactions through technology adoption.
Besides, it is also becoming relevant for companies to be available for their business buyers to interact in real time, which can be a major factor in closing sales by facilitating a buyer’s sales journey online.
Technology adoption can be a major game-changer in this regard, facilitating omnichannel communication between suppliers and business buyers in real time.
Put simply, omnichannel refers to providing a consistent and personalised experience to your buyers to simplify their customer journey irrespective of the channel they choose to interact with you. Easier said than done, right?
Not at all.
Latest technology such as AI-enabled chatbots and live chat software with co-browsing features make it a breeze to connect with your buyers at various points on their customer journey.
In the previously mentioned Accenture Strategy report, CX leaders agree that technology adoption is the key to upgrading your customer experience for B2B buyers.
According to the report, “Masters are more tuned in to digital’s disruptive effect. Seventy-three percent of B2B execs surveyed believe smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) will completely change the way they market, sell and serve their business customers. Among masters, that figure soars to 85 percent.”
The report goes on to say that, “…more masters are likely to expect increased use of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to shape interactions with customers and channel partners (83 percent versus 68 percent).”
Thus, investing in the right technology could be the key to transforming your customer experience and boosting your sales. Some noteworthy technologies to build your customer experience include:
A study by the American Marketing Association found that companies using live chat witnessed a 20% increase in conversions as compared to companies who don’t.
The reason is simple, real-time chat offers blazing fast customer query resolution by instantly connecting buyers with support agents. Agents can also reach out to customers at the most opportune moment in their purchase journey to maximise their chances of conversions.
Co-browsing technology offers a powerful visual engagement tool to businesses that are committed to delivering a seamless experience to their customers.
With co-browsing technology, your agents can see your customers’ browsers without visiting their physical location and fix their issues instantly – resulting in up to 18% improvement in first call resolution and 14% reduction in call handling times.
Chat bots offer the perfect way to scale your customer support activities by offering 24/7 online support to customers. By using a chat bot on your website, you can help your users find answers to their problems in real time without having to waste any time making separate searches on the site.
As chat bots come packed with AI capabilities, you only need to use your existing FAQs, chat history, and knowledge base to build your Bot’s foundations.
Besides handling a substantially higher volume of interactions in a short span of time, using chat bots initiates conversations and making personalized recommendations to users, leading to a better browsing experience for customers.
3. Offer Personalised Experiences
When you walk into a garment store – you don’t want to be sold the same dress as your neighbour’s. In fact, what would really delight you would be personalised recommendations by the staff at the store, saving you time and also making you feel better owing to the personalised attention.
The same philosophy applies to B2B buyers.
Today, companies are not looking for one-size-fits-all solutions but appreciate suppliers who can give them personalised recommendations based on their business needs and budget.
“66 percent of consumers say they are likely to switch brands if they are treated like a number instead of an individual.”
Indeed, at a time when B2B buyers have access to endless information and choice, personalisation is a necessity to stand out from the competition and reach out to your customers effectively.
“By 2020, 75 percent of business buyers expect companies to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they initiate contact, while 73% expect that products they purchase will self-diagnose issues and automatically order replacement parts or service.”
But how do you achieve this?
Once again, technology comes to your aid by offering a deep insight into customer behaviour that can help you personalise every point in your customer’s journey.
From getting to know your customers (you can use analytics to learn about customer demographics and browsing habits) to establishing strong communication with them (by using the technologies mentioned in the previous point) to offering the best product recommendations for their requirements (with Machine Learning algorithms), small technology upgrades can go a long way in improving your customer experience while keeping your customers’ personal data secure.
Having a B2B customer experience strategy is crucial for companies who wish to succeed.
However, to truly develop a customer-centric culture in a B2B organisation, delivering excellent customer experience at all levels of the business is relevant. Do so by training employees suitably. And constantly upgrading to the latest technology to facilitate seamless transactions.