Why B2B Companies Need To Up The Ante On Customer Experience


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A recent study conducted by customer intelligence firm Walker has revealed the evolution of business strategy with respect to customer management. The Walker study found that customer experience will be the most important business strategy among B2B companies in 2020. Although CX is already deemed to be slightly more important than product features today, this gap is expected to widen over the next half decade. As a consequence, price will become increasingly irrelevant in a B2B setup.

Although most marketers understand the value of customer experience, it has not really taken off in a big way at least in the B2B industries. That is because most B2B marketers consider their product “utilitarian” and “boring” and not really impacted by intangible factors like experience. One cannot be farther from truth. According to Tim Carrigan, the Consulting Vice President at Andrew Reise Consulting, the difference between B2C and B2B is “very slight” and are exaggerated through myths that do not exist in reality.

So why is there such a perception among B2B marketers? Unlike businesses that cater directly to customers, B2B companies deal with a far fewer number of customers (each of whom contribute a larger chunk to the top-line). In most of these cases, the interaction is direct – either through face-to-face meetings or over phone. As a result, the underlying assumption is that there is enough personal interaction B2B companies make with their customers that there needs to be no additional focus on improving experience – unlike B2C where companies work with thousands of customers and may hence need to walk the extra mile to connect to their customers.

While this is true, companies need to realize the changing dynamics of doing business. Thanks to technology, customers today have a larger pool of prospective businesses to engage with and hence retention is far more difficult today than it used to be even a decade back. Consider a completely B2B segment like corporate tax management – today, technology companies like ADP.com and Intuit help businesses achieve their objectives online which has made contractors for similar jobs unnecessary. Without a strong differentiator, it is difficult for B2B companies that do not operate online to justify their place.

Another important reason why B2B companies need to focus on customer experience is to cater to primal human instincts. A study by psychologist Paul Zak found that hormones that enable us to feel empathy and create understanding are also the reason why we become more generous and trusting. By building a more customer connected product and offering them a better experience, customers build an empathy towards the business which in turn makes them trust the product more. A positive fallout in this exercise is better loyalty towards the brand even if they are aggressively targeted by competition.

Customer experience is a science that can only bring better brand equity to the business and value to customers. It is extremely critical for B2B companies to understand the importance and build a strategy towards this. What are your thoughts?


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