When it comes to CX in today’s world, B2B businesses need to think more like B2C brands.
Customer experience (CX) has become the primary differentiator between brands. Companies can no longer compete only on product or price alone. Instead, customers are seeking out experience. We can already see that the brands who are succeeding are those who are adopting the latest innovations to provide personalized buyer experiences at every touchpoint. And that’s not going to change.
While business-to-consumer (B2C) companies are making strides in closing the gap between what customers expect and the experiences they deliver, business-to-business (B2B) companies are lagging behind. But they don’t need to. At the end of the day, you’re selling to people. That means your approach needs to be human, and more importantly – seamless. Luckily, B2B companies can get inspired by B2C companies who are leading the CX charge.
B2B Brands Falling Behind Customer Expectations
On average, B2B brands are falling far behind buyer expectations. According to research from McKinsey & Co, B2B brands score below 50% on customer experience index ratings on average, compared to 65 to 85% for typical B2C brands. And that’s not to mention that 77% of buyers report that their last purchase was very difficult or complex.
As CX improves in the consumer world, B2B buyer expectations will rise as well. With more B2C brands providing excellent CX, people will expect the same from any brand, regardless of its product or service. While consumer brands are investing in the latest technology and making use of data to provide personalized CX, only 17% of B2B companies have fully integrated customer data into their operations. Needless to say, there is massive room for improvement and growth.
The Time is Now to Invest in CX
By overlooking the importance of CX, B2B brands are missing out on opportunities to keep up with competition and build profitable customer relationships. According to an Accenture report, 50% of B2B buyers search for improved personalization when choosing online suppliers. Regardless of the market, 86% of people who receive a great experience are likely to make a second purchase. On the other hand, sub-par interactions are likely to drive away customers, with only 13% indicating they would return after a negative experience.
The pandemic undeniably accelerated the demand of the consumer, and companies across all industries and regions had no choice but to adapt quickly. eCommerce is booming for B2B companies, and is projected to reach $1.8 trillion in the U.S. by 2023. With numbers like these, there is clearly ample opportunity. But to get it right, B2B brands will need to evolve alongside their consumers.
B2C Principles Key to Improved Buyer Journeys
All B2B businesses don’t just have one thing in common with B2C brands, they have several! They market, sell, and provide care to people. Keyword being people.
B2B customer experiences need to resemble the great experiences people receive from consumer brands in their private life. In fact, B2B companies that took on customer experience transformation similar to that of B2Cs saw a 10 to 15% growth in revenue, improved customer and employee satisfaction ratings, and 10 to 20% reduction in costs
Companies such as Apple have already realized the importance of enhancing the B2B experience and have taken steps so that their business operations mirror that of a consumer brand. Apple’s business website features a simplified and user-friendly design, content and success stories to inform purchasing decisions, and a dedicated professional support section.
Similarly, IKEA’s business page offers access to chats with design professionals, online planning tools and the IKEA for Business team. A potential customer can easily use tools to find the right solutions and receive personalized recommendations from IKEA’s support team. These business sites prioritize seamless functionality and proactively provide useful content to make the customer’s journey easier.
Delivering Excellent Experiences to B2B Buyers
To deliver the experiences that B2B buyers want, businesses need to copy consumer brands and focus on omnichannel strategy, data collection, and personalization. Today, customers interact with brands across several platforms including the brand’s website, contact center, social media profiles, social media messaging apps, text, and email. With the right tools, brands can ensure every interaction is consistent as customers switch between channels.
This consistency across channels requires collecting the right data to keep marketing, sales, and customer care teams informed on all customer interactions. Nothing shows you care more than by knowing the details of a case before your customer even types it out. This is the future of CX.
Unified data gives a full picture of a customer’s journey so that every touch point can flow seamlessly. Marketing teams can reach customers where they are with information tailored to their interests, sales teams can provide personalized recommendations, and care teams can provide quick, accurate service without requiring customers to repeat their inquiries.
Leveraging Technology and Data to Deliver the New B2B Journey
Bottom line. Business buyers are people, too. Building personal connections with empathy can help build long-term customer loyalty and enhance your brand’s reputation. Approaching B2B customer experience with B2C strategies will help businesses meet growing customer expectations. To achieve the B2C experience for the average business-to-business brand, professionals need a unified platform to combine all available data to truly make every interaction memorable.