Over the past decade, the B2B customer experience (CX) has become a top priority for many companies. That’s because customers have more choices than ever and will take their business elsewhere if unsatisfied with the experience.
For B2B organizations, though, CX is more complicated and critical. And as we’ve learned over this past year, changes in our personal lives are affecting work life too, which means customer expectations are evolving faster than ever before.
Make a human connection.
The most important thing for companies to remember regarding the B2B customer experience is that first-time buyers are people, just like you and me. We’re all human beings with feelings, emotions, and lives outside our job descriptions. That’s why you shouldn’t treat your customers the way a customer service chatbot would—you’ll come off as robotic and unapproachable!
Instead, aim for a more human approach by using your name (if appropriate) in emails or phone calls; making sure your tone is friendly and personable; asking questions about the buyer’s day or how their weekend went; sharing personal stories about yourself; being empathetic towards their struggles; being an active listener instead of interrupting them with scripted answers or solutions. You can even add emojis if they make sense.
What does a B2B customer experience entail?
Understanding the B2B customer experience is critical to creating a positive one. To do this, you need to understand B2B customer experience.
The B2B customer experience is the sum of your interactions with a business and its customers. It’s not just about using a service or product—it’s also about how those services and products are delivered to you and how they make you feel when interacting with them.
Think of it like this: If you go out for dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant, you can have a fantastic time eating pasta while listening to old-school Italian music playing in the background (I’m very romantic). But if your server was rude, didn’t smile when you ordered your meal, or forgot any part of your conversation (for instance, forgetting that you wanted extra Parmesan cheese), that experience would turn sour quickly.
B2B challenges to overcome
In the B2B world, customers have many options. And they’re not always loyal. They may change their minds at the last minute or call you with a question that you can’t answer off-hand. Customers can be hard to reach, understand, and please—and that doesn’t even get into how much work it can be just serving them!
B2B customers face unique challenges when buying a new product or service. They’re not just being asked to choose between two products, like a consumer might be; they are also making a choice on behalf of their company, which means they need to make sure that the purchase aligns with their company’s needs and goals.
This can make it difficult for B2B customers to focus on the benefits of your product without getting distracted by other considerations. In addition, because a committee often makes purchasing decisions, one person in the group may have a plan that doesn’t align with everyone else’s—which could cause delays or even derail the entire process entirely.
Use these tips to improve your B2B customer experience
Here are three tips for strengthening your B2B customer experience:
- Make a human connection. No matter how sophisticated your product or service is, it’s still being created by people. Your customers want to know that you have accurate, live humans working on their behalf and looking out for their best interests. It may seem old-fashioned to some but connecting with other humans is the only way to truly understand someone else’s needs and wants — which means it will help you deliver better experiences in the long run.
- Speak their language — literally! While it might feel awkward at first (and probably even a little silly), speaking in their language can go a long way toward ensuring that your customers understand what you’re offering them before they buy into anything else. Also, consider using plain language throughout all aspects of your brand to reinforce this message across all channels — from advertising campaigns through social media posts to email newsletters (and whatnot).
- Be where your potential customers are hanging out online. Why? So that when those potential customers do start looking around for information about what services/products will meet their needs best as yours does. Also, perhaps there’s already an existing relationship between brand name recognition and actual familiarity, thanks to both parties’ efforts thus far together over time.
Learn more about your B2B customers
The first step toward improving your customer experience is understanding who they are.
- Know their business: Not just the kind of product or service they offer, but what makes them tick. What’s their company culture? What do they value? How do they operate daily?
- Know their industry: If you don’t know anything about an industry, you probably need to brush up on it before talking with anyone from that sector. You can learn everything there is to know about a market by reading books and articles online, attending conferences or networking events in the field (if possible), and engaging directly with customers who work for companies in this area. You’ll be surprised at how much more comfortable you feel when speaking with prospects after doing some research!
- Know their pain points: If you’re not familiar with any pain points within your target segment, then start asking questions! The more time spent researching these areas beforehand will pay off big time when working directly with these contacts later down the road because you’ll already have a good idea where they might be coming from based on where things have been going wrong thus far–and those issues could become deal-breakers if left unresolved during sales conversations later down the line.
Be responsive and timely with your customers’ requests
If you’re going to make a big deal about responding quickly, then you better be able to deliver.
It’s essential that you respond to customer queries or complaints quickly.
If a customer reaches out via email and doesn’t hear back within 24 hours, they may think you’re ignoring them. Customers can quickly lose confidence in your brand if they feel like their concerns aren’t being addressed or taken seriously enough by your team.
This is why every single member of your team (from executives down) must have access to an effective customer service tool that allows them to track and resolve each issue as soon as possible. Make sure this tool is available on mobile devices so employees can stay on top of issues wherever they are at any given time—and make sure it’s available 24/7 so there are no gaps in coverage during busy hours or when employees take vacation days off; from the office.
Be where your customers are.
You’re ready to have a B2B customer experience revolution, but what will you do? The first thing is to make sure you’re where your customers are.
The following is a list of ways you can engage with your target audience:
- Social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter)
- Email newsletters and newsletters for individual products or services
- Chatbots (in-app messaging)
- A help center (FAQs, knowledge bases)
- A phone number that customers can call during normal business hours (or 24/7 if appropriate).
- A website with live chat functionality that allows visitors to receive real-time support from humans or bots.
- A mobile app where users can connect directly through their smartphones and tablets.*
- Physical location—if you have brick-and-mortar locations where people visit on foot or drive-by regularly (restaurants, grocery stores), consider adding signage explaining who owns them as well as their mission statement so consumers will have no confusion about what they’re buying into when they purchase products or services there; this also includes storefronts in malls and shopping centers.
- Mailbox inside the store where people can leave comments/feedback on quality control issues before making purchases; these notes will then be passed along internally so management staff knows how things went wrong before launching another product line next year.
As a B2B business, you know customer experience is essential. But how can you ensure that your customers have the best experience with your brand?
First and foremost, make sure that visitors can find you easily. This means having a sitemap on your website with links to all your most important pages—including contact information like phone numbers, email addresses, and social media profiles.
If someone tries to reach out to you through live chat or via telephone (or even just email), don’t let them wait for an answer longer than 24 hours—even if it means replying at night or on weekends and holidays. People don’t want to feel like they’re bothering anyone when they reach out in need of help, so do everything possible during business hours and after-hours when most other companies have closed their doors for the day.
Give customers what they want, when they want it.
You’ve heard it before: Customers want to be in control of their experience. And, even though you may think this is just a new way for your customer service reps to feel frustrated while trying to meet unreasonable demands, it’s not.
Your customers do want what they want—and they often don’t know what that is until they have it in front of them. In fact, according to Forrester Research, 57% of B2B buyers say they would buy more often if vendors could provide better pricing on products or services. That means millions upon millions of dollars are being left on the table because companies haven’t yet figured out how best to deliver value at scale through digital channels like websites and social media.
Help customers help themselves.
In the past year, many companies have put more effort into improving the B2B customer experience. Sometimes it’s a matter of providing an option to customers who need help and don’t want to wait on hold with a chatbot or virtual assistant; sometimes, it’s about providing live chat in addition to your phone number.
However, what do all these options have in common? They all allow you to provide self-service functionality that makes it easy for your customers to find answers independently.
In 2022, we expect this trend to continue as more companies look for ways to help their buyers find what they’re looking for without having to contact support reps directly—and not all by themselves.
Take a collaborative approach to CX.
Collaboration is a critical component of improving the B2B customer experience. From your own company, you should collaborate with your customers to find ways to enhance their experience when interacting with you. It would help if you collaborate across teams within your organization and outside of it—including other departments, vendors, and service providers. Your customers will benefit from this type of collaboration, and you’ll be able to understand their needs better.
Keep up with changing preferences and evolving expectations.
The customer experience is evolving rapidly, and the competition is fierce. If your business wants to stay competitive, you must keep up with changing preferences and evolving expectations.
Consider the rise of social media as an example of how customers have changed in recent years. A decade ago, most people still got their news from traditional sources like newspapers and TV shows. Today, however, many people get their news from Facebook or Twitter, and others call it from Google or Pinterest instead!
Social media has fundamentally changed how we consume information online—and if you’re not keeping up with this shift in consumer behavior (or paying attention to emerging platforms like TikTok), then the chances are good that your B2B customers will go elsewhere when they want something new out of life (or into the office).
Here are other B2B customer experience improvements you can make
You already know that B2B customers are different from B2C customers. But here’s a fun fact: they’re more demanding, too!
Why? Because of all the reasons we just talked about:
- They have deeper pockets and more to lose if something goes wrong.
- They need to work with other people’s money and ensure that their decision-making process is fair, thorough, and data-driven (unlike some B2C shoppers).
- They’re typically more experienced at making purchases than their counterparts in other industries who only buy things now and again (and thus less likely to be taken advantage of by marketers).
Each of these tips addresses how brands can ensure their B2B customer experience is as good as possible. To keep up with changing customer expectations and customer preferences, businesses need to stay on top of the trends impacting how they engage customers. This includes everything from how they communicate with customers to how responsive they are online or on social media channels like Twitter or Facebook.