In a study by Accenture, two-thirds of B2B professionals states that new brands in the industry use customer experience to carve a niche for themselves.
Establishing a customer-centric behavior is non-negotiable in business to consumer (B2C) interactions. But very little attention is devoted to developing such a mindset in business to business (B2B) interactions.
The journey to improving your B2B customer experience begins with putting the customer at the center stage.
Here are 5 steps to improve the customer experience for B2B:
1. Anticipate customer behavior
Anticipating customer behavior is a proactive strategy that puts you in a position to develop a better customer service environment even before the customer comes knocking.
In a Customer Think Survey, 83% of B2B leaders express their desire to have more customer information that describes their intentions.
Predictive analytics is helpful in this regard. Aberdeen Group reports that businesses that use predictive analytics generate 2X customer lifetime value. With the information at their disposal, such businesses are able to consistently satisfy customer expectations.
The efficiency of predictive analytics lies in the accuracy of interpretation. It is 25% more expensive to acquire new customers than retain old ones. Businesses that use predictive analytics retain their customers by 27%.
Data from predictive analytics show you the history of B2B buyers, their needs, expectations and possible outcomes from their interactions with you. Rather than make generalizations that may be out of line, you have a persona to work with.
2. Provide excellent customer support
According to a study by the Marketing Science Institute, improving customer experience creates more value.
B2B buyers are responsible for the welfare of both their employees and customers. Getting efficient customer support is imperative to keep their business running. Mediocrity is unacceptable because they have so much at stake.
How do you step up to the plate?
· Have a competent support team
McKinsey & Company reports that there is a disparity in the customer-experience index ratings between B2B and B2C. While B2C organizations score 65% – 85%, B2B organizations score below 50%. These poor ratings are spurring a rise in B2B customer expectations.
There is no room for an incompetent support team in B2B interactions. Your clients are experts in their own right and can smell incompetence from a thousand miles.
Hire only the best hands and train them regularly to be abreast with developing trends.
· Use customer support technologies
An Aspect Consumer Experience Survey states that 70% of customers say customer support reflects how much an organization values them. Keeping them on hold for long implies that they are not important.
Customer support technologies such as co-browsing facilitate real-time engagement between the support agent and customer. Both of them can be on the same page at the same time. Customers may lack the technical-know-how of complex issues, and may not be able to solve such issues despite following agents’ instructions. Rather than stalling the issue, the agent can access the customer’s page via the co-browsing screen-sharing feature from their own end.
Co-browsing can be integrated with other technologies to enhance the customer experience by enabling both video and voice chats.
Privacy of the customer is protected as their personal information is concealed from the agent. The customer also determines the areas the agent can access and can limit their movement to the particular tab where the problem exists.
3. Strive for customer retention
According to B2B International, B2B buyers are more rational in their buying decisions in comparison to B2C buyers. They are not buying for their personal gratifications, but to improve their business. It makes perfect sense that they will go for the best.
B2B customer accounts are big assets and are rewarding when recurrent. Think the long haul.
Some ways to retain B2B customers include:
· Listen to their needs
This set of customers are very clear about what they want. Do not assume that you know it. Your duty is to help them actualize their needs. Allow them to lay it all out before pushing the conversation forward.
Ask questions for clarity, and utilize the information in catering to them.
· Treat them as partners
B2B buyers are sellers in their own right. They understand the dynamics of the seller to buyer interactions where the seller is coerced with many marketing antics. Towing that line is a red flag.
Collaboration is one technique that sits well with B2B customers. They want to be a part of the process. Get them involved. Seeing positive results from their contributions reaffirms their expertise.
4. Offer Great Value
In a Bain & Company report, 80% of organizations are of the belief that they offer superior customer experience, but only 8% of customers think that is true.
B2B buyers are always on the lookout for ways to serve their end consumers better. They are intentional about their associations and patronize only B2B sellers that enhance their services.
Some ways to offer great value include:
· Be innovative.
Routine products and/or services become boring over time. Come up with out-of-the-box ideas to excite your customers, so they can, in turn, excite their own customers.
· Offer many options
Businesses have different modes of operations. A one-size-fits-all product is not always efficient. It might be perfect for one business, but not be suitable for another due to their peculiarities.
Give customers options to choose from. That way, they are sure of getting the most value.
5. Accelerate the sales circle
Longer sales circles consume more resources than shorter ones. Businesses would rather cut to the chase to enlarge their returns on investment (ROI), but not at the detriment of their product and/or service quality.
Research shows that ten months is the average duration of time for a typical B2B transaction. This is quite a long time for customers. They would rather have it rounded up in six months. Do not keep them waiting longer than they want to stay.
Sales acceleration goes beyond doing the right thing but doing it faster and better. With the right technologies, your support team will know how to cater to your customers in the smartest ways possible.
For every product and/or service you offer, there are many others offering the same, if not better. When you fail to constantly improve your B2B customer experience, you single-handedly push your customers into the hands of your competitors.
When customers are faced with two good products, they go for the better option. Constant improvement is the strategy to always be ahead.