Turning your customers into raving fans!
Customer experience is critical to a company’s strategic priority, and according to a survey done by Accenture, around 88 % of companies indicate that with every passing year, they are investing more in this area. This increased importance is driven by the fundamental changes in what business customers expect and how they want to interact with their suppliers. In fact, a large percentage of executives agree that business customers’ higher expectations, desire for customized solutions, increasing-price sensitivity, higher knowledge, and self-direction have a significant impact on their company’s customer experience strategy for both sales and service. With the predicted substantial and sustained changes in sales and service, customer experience here to stay!
While the value of CX is still elusive in the B2B sphere, B2B companies need to face the challenges and opportunities from the changing dynamics of the business customers. Traditional B2B models are built around a linear path or funnel to purchase. Accelerated by digital technology, the way business customers engage with suppliers today has fundamentally changed. The customer journey is now:
• Dynamic- Business stakeholders move at consumer speed and expect agility and a consumerized experience across multiple channels.
• Accessible– content is everywhere, and access to knowledge is more open. The influence of other stakeholders of B2B ecosystems (peers, colleagues, vendors, partners) is much more persuasive.
• Perpetual– Business customers now expect ongoing engagement from suppliers. Always-on touch-points and increasingly more sophisticated sourcing and procurement functions lead to real-time monitoring of suppliers’ performance, continuously comparing the promise versus delivery. Evaluation, not purchase, is the focus now.
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No wonder expectations are set by our experiences as consumers. With so much discussion on the ‘consumerization’ of B2B on this basis, the new-emerging view is that it is more business to humans now, rather than B2B or B2C. Having said that, B2B is more complex and more nuanced than B2C, certainly for large companies.
Let’s see the building blocks that contribute to providing a steady and robust customer experience. These building blocks play out across the buyers’ life cycle and articulate a target experience that drives both loyalty and advocacy. These lie at the heart of any organization’s customer experience strategy and provides a framework suitable for both implementation and measurement. These building blocks align closely with the primary human psychological factors. Therefore, it should be no surprise that these apply whenever and wherever there are social connections and relationships involved.
Following are the essential building blocks of excellent customer experience:
1. Personalized Offerings and Services: Using individualized and targeted attention to drive an emotional connection.
2. Exhibiting Integrity: Being trustworthy and engendering trust.
3. Meeting Expectations: Managing, meeting, and exceeding customer expectations.
4. Sticking to a Resolution: Turning a bad experience into a good one.
5. Valuing Time & Making Efforts: Minimizing customer effort and creating frictionless processes.
6. Being Empathetic: Achieving a thorough understanding of the customer’s circumstances to drive a good and strong rapport.
These building blocks cover the factors that contribute to a long-term sustainable, and profitable relationship between businesses and between companies and consumers.
1. Personalized Offerings and Services: Getting to know your customers well is the first step to a winning strategy. Being alert and receptive to their needs and wants, relating to business goals, and then tailoring experiences to particular circumstances is central to personalization. In a B2B relationship, this knowledge and understanding may need to span multiple individuals rather than just the buyer. It is also essential to set personalization in the context of the competitive marketing sphere where the clients are competing with and how they are performing.
2. Exhibiting Integrity: Trust is followed by integrity- which is the foundation of all relationships. This trust formation process is very critical and is based on reliability and ensuring beneficial results for both the parties.
3. Meeting Expectations: The nature of B2B purchasing often requires a sales pitch or formal presentation, whereby organizations are tempted to put themselves in a good-formidable light. We frequently find that this often turns over into a tendency to over-promise at the outset and then failing to deliver. It has a significant impact on the relationship and its durability. The accurate and realistic setting of expectations is a challenging but essential component to forging a successful relationship.
4. Sticking to a Resolution: Failure to provide excellent service and reliable customer recovery may impact businesses in a big way. Not to mention, the ability to resolve issues quickly and reliably is paramount. It is particularly true in the B2B environment involving a big customer. Progress reports, timelines, and updates are more widespread in the B2B world–indicative of a function with a different level of complexity. But the concept of sticking to the resolution applies to both. The service recovery paradox is equally in evidence- fixing an issue promptly and exceptionally well, and the customer is likely to think better of you than they did before it went amiss in the first place. It also means informing the team of what happened, how it was resolved, and how it can be mitigated in the future.
5. Valuing Time & Making Efforts: Valuing time and effort, the comfort of doing business, and the time it takes to drive loyalty in both B2C and B2B. Finding opportunities that can reduce cost, time, and effort are dominant relationship enhancers.
6. Being Empathetic: Finally, being empathetic and being able to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and making them feel that you can see the world from their perspective is what will win their hearts for sure. Understand and get to know their priorities and challenges, the obstacles that will get in the way, and their concerns. If you’re able to gauge the emotional temperature and having the emotional intelligence to react accordingly, you have a win-win. Being empathetic to the client at the customer level- is imperative to understand how the decisions being considered may influence both the parties involved.
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Through such experiences, customers get used to a much higher standard of service. As such, personal customer experience plays a significant role in the setting of expectations. In B2B relationships, the experiences customers receive have an impact on how they evaluate their B2B suppliers. Indeed, customers rate their customer experience on average 2.3 times more positively if the same brand (if applicable) delivered an excellent B2C experience to them. In a customer’s mind, the separation between B2C and B2B does not exist. The primary B2B customer will mostly judge us on the strength of this relationship and the value they have added over a period of time.