When you think about the importance of customer experience, you could be forgiven for your mind wandering to the B2C environment. After all, customer experience and satisfaction have long been one of the top priorities for B2C businesses, yet it’s only now that B2B businesses are catching up. But let’s consider just a couple of things here; firstly, your customers are your business. Without them, what do you have? Surely that’s reason enough to make them Priority Number One. Secondly, your customers are people (we don’t mean to state the obvious!). They’ve experienced exceptional customer experience as consumers and, surprise surprise, they want that very same experience as B2B customers.
What is B2B customer experience and why does it matter?
B2B customer experience, in a nutshell, is every interaction your business has with your customers. It’s hard to manage clients’ feedback, but it is much easier with the help of enterprise customer feedback software. The tricky part? In B2B marketing, that means more people to impress and ultimately, keep happy. If you don’t? More revenue to lose. More at stake. More long-term risk to your business and its stability. So, that’s why it matters! But let’s dig a little deeper…
In B2B business, whatever your industry, you’ll have competitors. Competitors that are just waiting for you to slip up so that they can take business away from you and grow their own customer base. Now, no one wants to lose out to the competition, but it can be a costly mistake, not just professionally frustrating. Losing customers to competitors means reduced profits (obviously!) and increased marketing costs as you strive to fill the gap left by your ex-customers and grow your business once more. It costs more to acquire new customers than it does to retain them - so surely it’s non-negotiable that you need to look after what you have - your existing customer base?
What does a good B2B customer experience look like?
Here are our top tips for excelling at B2B customer experience…
Listen, empathize, personalize:
You’ve probably heard the old adage “treat people how you would like to be treated”, and this is just as relevant in business as it is in real life. Imagine you were investing your company budget (and your professional reputation, if you’re a decision-maker) in another company. You’d not only expect the product or service to perform as expected, but you’d also want to feel valued and that your opinions mattered. Is this how your customers feel?
Your customers are real people; they should be treated as individuals and their needs and wants listened to. Whether you’re talking to them on the phone or sending them a quick email, make it personal and show you care. In every interaction with your customer, listen - and make sure they really feel heard. Be personable, approachable, and transparent. There’s no weakness in discussing openly with your customer what your product or service does and what it doesn’t. Have they found an issue with what you’re providing? Be empathetic and work with them to find a solution - after all, your job is to be the solution to a specific problem they have as a company, not to add to their woes.
Trust builds credibility. Earn your customers’ and prospective customers’ trust
We’re going to take a tentative step away from customer experience for just a second, but bear with us, there’s a reason behind it! Let’s focus for a moment on your lead generation strategy. In all honesty, even with an absolute gold standard B2B customer experience strategy, you are going to go through times of churn, where customers leave you through absolutely no fault of your own. Even with a marketing dream team that knows exactly how to generate leads, in this day and age, everyone is online, and customers - both B2B and B2C - are highly likely to look at reviews before making a final purchasing decision. So back round to how customer experience plays a part in all of this! Put simply, build up the trust and loyalty of your current customers with an excellent customer experience, and they will leave your business 5-star reviews that are the social proof prospective customers need to get them over the line. It’s not enough for you to tell them how good you are, that you’re the solution to their problem. They need to hear it from the people who really matter.
Understand your customers’ business and provide solutions based on what they’re trying to achieve
It’s very easy for a customer to come to you with preconceived ideas as to what they need or want to buy from you and to just let that happen. Business is business, right? But is what they’re asking for really the solution they need? It may not seem obvious, but here’s another chance for your customer experience to shine. Listen to what they need and their pain points, understand their business and make recommendations that will genuinely help them. This immediately builds trust; clearly, you’re not just ‘in it for the money, but because you want the same as they do; what’s best for their business.
Accommodate different communication preferences
In today’s digital world, it’s not enough to just be available on the phone. Whilst we personally like the more traditional approach of actually talking to someone, many customers don’t! More and more people feel comfortable chatting online, so ask yourself the question, how can your customers reach out to you? Aside from a phone call, can they email, and contact you via social media, or live chat? You can also go the extra mile and create B2B portal for your clients And just as vital - if you open up your communication channels, remember to stay human. There aren’t many who enjoy the impersonal experience of talking to a robot, and we’re all about the customer experience, remember!
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback - and act on it!
You may think you’re winning work-wise - but what do your customers think? Having honest conversations with them on a regular basis and asking for feedback can help you to understand your customer’s needs better. Gaining their thoughts and then taking action to improve what you’re offering shows you care and that their opinion really does matter to you. With research showing that 91% of unhappy customers will leave a company without ever complaining, taking the ball from their court, asking for feedback, and making a change can help you to avoid your customers becoming one of the 91%. Going through regular cycles of feedback can also help you to understand your own business and customers better and stay ahead of the curve, anticipating problems before they occur and stop them in their tracks.
Your whole team needs to be invested in customer experience
Absolutely, your customer success team is the ones leading the way, flying the flag for your customers. Dealing with them day in, and day out, listening to their wants and needs and communicating that internally to the team. But it doesn’t start and end with them. Your customers can make or break your business, so every single member of your team needs to make the customer experience their business. Every department needs to think about what their customers need. What can they do, in their own way, to deliver that gold standard experience you’re striving for? How can they make your customers' lives easier? Only when you’re all pulling in the same direction, with B2B customer experience at the forefront of everyone’s minds, will you truly be a customer-centric business
While there’s a lot to think about here, if we want to strip everything back and just go back to basics, the message from us is simple: be better than everyone else. Many businesses claim that their customers are their main priority, but the reality is very different. With the perfect personal, customer-centric approach, it really doesn’t matter what your competitors do, even if they undercut you on price. You will have built a loyal customer base that sticks with you because of you. Creating a friction-free environment that meets your customers’ needs effectively and where any issues are dealt with in a timely, understanding manner (because no one can be perfect 100% of the time), is the ultimate all your customers are asking for. It doesn’t seem like much, does it?