Why Invest in Customer Experience?
Did you know?
If you want your customers to stay loyal, you have to invest in their experience. By the end of 2019, more than 50% of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovation.
An effective online presence will never obviate the need for a human sales representative, particularly for large deals. It can, however, equip both customers and the salespeople who serve them with detailed product information, white papers that outline common use cases, case studies showing how similar organizations have used a product, and more.
New technology is driving much of today’s channel shift in business-to-business sales and marketing as it speeds information exchange, product discovery and order entry online. But customer-facing technology built around the demands of systems rather than the actual needs of the customer can negatively affect a company’s brand, reputation, and loyal following.
No matter how complex the business, customer experience always boils down to a human being trying to accomplish a goal.
What’s the most important thing that B2B companies underestimate about creating world-class customer experience?
B2B companies underestimate how often they de-humanize customers by referring to them as ‘users’ and ‘buyers’ or in terms of function such as ‘procurement’ and ‘IT’. De-personalization is a problem because you risk ignoring and thus failing to meet customers’ social and emotional needs, which are just as important as than their functional needs.
In B2B, it’s rarely a big disaster that sends clients to the competition. It’s ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ Small, fixable hassles chip away at the perception that your brand is helpful and easy to work with. Two-thirds of a company’s competitive edge is based on the experience they deliver to their customers, as more than 50% of companies view customer experience delivered by contact centers as a competitive differentiator.
Leading firms take a parallel approach. They work on a package of small changes at the same time they figure out the big issues. The result is a constant stream of improvement, little bursts of delight that show customers you know you need to improve and are working hard to do it.
The importance of experience
In today’s B2B world, what will make you stand out isn’t just your product, but rather the services you offer around that product. B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a salesperson who provides new insights about their business or industry.
In other words, B2B sales are increasingly becoming a ‘consultative’ process with customers expecting salespeople to serve as product experts and educate them on the market rather than simply trying to close a deal. About 73% of customers consider customer experience as an important factor affecting their purchasing decisions.
At its best, B2B commerce empowers customers to get more information on their own while giving businesses, especially smaller businesses, a way to compete with digital behemoths on something other than price or functionality. Customer experience and a consultative sales process aren’t just theoretical advantages; they are competitive differentiators that have allowed many B2B organizations to grow and thrive. When companies provide a personalized, seamless experience, they generate average revenue growth of 8.1%, twice the rate of competitors with less-developed digital platforms.
Building trust in the face of disruption
Beyond providing a pleasant and consultative buying experience, successful businesses will be the ones that build trust with their customers. B2B buyers listed ‘trust’ as the single most influential factor in the buyer/seller relationship. Business is a sensitive issue and buyers will naturally want to engage with those they feel will treat them fairly.
B2B commerce sites can easily be linked to services to provide a degree of personalized service. When customers feel that they’re being listened to and have their questions addressed, trust naturally follows. This also jives with the idea of a consultative sales process. Commerce sites can further cement businesses’ reputations as impartial advocates by offering tools to show customer ratings and allow for feedback on product catalogs.
Trust is only becoming more important as an increasing number of industries face the threat of disruption.
Putting it all together
Surprisingly, being responsive to customers in an effort to drive increased differentiation is making it harder for customers to buy solutions. With 89% of businesses soon to be expected to compete mainly on customer experience, organizations need to work towards providing seamless customer experience.
Simplify the buying process for B2B customers
Don’t just respond; instead, recommend
B2B customers make a multitude of decisions when buying a solution. The sales organization and its reps can guide buyers based on past experience with similar clients. Their insights enable customers to move towards a purchase that solves their business problem.
Map the stages of the customer buying process to understand how best to support customers through each step.
Identify the customer decision roadblocks that must be overcome in the purchasing process.
Align prescriptive interventions to identify challenges or preemptively guide customers around roadblocks to keep them moving toward a purchase decision.