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The B2B Customer Experience: Business Transformation

Posted by Chris Tweten | Oct 14, 2021

6 Best Practices for B2B Customer Experience

Customer experience used to be something only the B2C sector considered; B2B companies focused on the quality of their products and services. That was enough to differentiate themselves in the market then, but times have changed.

Enjoying efficient, fast, and personalized experiences as consumers is something people expect within the B2B sector. According to the B2B Buying Process Report, almost 40% of B2B buyers want to buy, track and manage orders online. Although more than half are not ready to increase their CX budget, most B2B organizations believe that customer experience is a competitive advantage.

Despite this reluctancy, B2B organizations have a wide range of advantages over their B2C counterparts in developing memorable customer experiences.

Advantages of B2B Over B2C Customer Experience

Maturity

When B2B companies start thinking about CX strategies, they are often at a more mature stage than those in B2C. This means they have a solid, established framework to build CX initiatives without needing to start from scratch.

Take personalization, which requires a deep understanding of your customers.

As a B2B, you often have a long sales cycle that contributes to years of engagement and, as a result, a stable business relationship. By adopting technology, you can offer proactive aftermarket services with hyper-personalization in messaging.

Simplicity

To quote Harvard Business Review,

“Most B2B sellers think their customers are in the driver’s seat—empowered, armed to the teeth with information. So clear about their needs that they don’t bother to engage with suppliers until late in the process, when their purchase decision is all but complete.”

While customers prefer straightforward solutions, you can make a significant impact with the slightest change, like eliminating inflated language or sending proactive support messages on product pages.

Deeper Customer Knowledge

B2B companies are often qualified for personalization. Companies that employ pragmatic marketing or ABM strategies tend to dig deeper into customer personas and segmentation.

And they do it well before even starting to reach out to the audience with marketing messages.

B2B CX Strategies To Implement

Define Your Service-Level Agreements

Service-level agreements (SLAs) are the statements that define what level of service customers can expect from a company. Companies use SLAs to provide a better consumer experience by determining what exactly needs to be addressed, in what way, and how quickly. They set boundaries for the staff, set and measure the efficiency of client-company communication.

With SLAs in place, it’s easier for your team to prioritize their client services to ensure no customer gets overlooked. They also communicate to customers about company limitations, lowering the chances of souring the relationship in the future.

Some standard SLA settings that can help meet customer expectations and support agents’ workflow are:

  • Contact Time: An SLA can regulate the frequency of follow-ups to ensure no client is left forgotten after they signed up for a service or bought a product. This practice can aid in fostering a relationship and cutting the stress for new clients.
  • Guidance for Difficult Conversations: An SLA informs the staff about the way they should communicate with customers. For instance, an SLA can determine the time necessary for your team to resolve a problem. If a customer demands an immediate solution to their issue, a support agent can point them to the SLA.
  • Priorities: Some customers have more complex requirements than others. Having an SLA that defines which tickets are critical to acknowledge favors customer retention.

Build A Self-Service Portal

A study from McKinsey shows that 30% of B2B customers have in-person interactions with company representatives. This means that most clients are ready to help themselves.

In a self-service B2B business, you have a few options here:

  • Knowledge bases
  • Chatbots
  • Remote interactions
  • Distance training

When customers get company products and services through self-service, support agents can nurture relationships with existing clients.

To set up a self-service, decide what products and services will work best. Standardized products that have minimal variations and are easily adjusted are recommended. Next, compose a knowledge base to let customers find supporting materials along their journey.

Personalize Your Customer Service

B2B success is all about building a relationship with your target audience.

To thrive, you should know your customer inside out and provide them with the most relevant personalized service. That means you have to know each customer’s history, individual preferences, and recent activity.

The first thing you should focus on to elevate your personalized support experience is arming your team with the right tools. Your support reps should have access to a primary database to lookup data about each customer. Centralized data will allow your support to provide context that customers expect without any micromanagement or supervision.

To identify what additional software you should invest in, sketch out a map of your customer support experience through every stage of their customer journey. Sit down with your support team agents and determine all the possible problems a customer might face.

With a customer journey map, you can find all the ways to reach a customer with timely assistance, rather than waiting for them to request assistance. At this stage, you’ll see the areas that need more work in terms of predictive support and can search for solutions. Taking a more proactive approach is the foundation of building a customer experience people talk about.

Finally, integrate the help desk software into your business software: CRM, marketing automation, call tracking analytics, accounting and referral program software. Syncing all your data will help reduce the chance of human error and smooth out operations as a whole.

Be Proactive

Microsoft has found that 68% of customers favor companies that contact them with proactive support. Proactive support necessitates addressing problems before they arise, in contrast to reacting to customer complaints.

For example, suppose a client calls you with an urgent issue:

They can’t sell any e-books on their website because their accounting software (your product) is returning an error. Assuring the client that your support team is already addressing the problem and giving them a tracking number would be a standard reactive approach.

To shift gears into a proactive approach, the support instructs the client where they should use the tracking number to see the status of their ticket, set alerts for the people in charge, and follow up within the next 30 minutes to assure the client their problem has the due attention.

Another way to be proactive is to post educational content on your website to help people find the information they need. This works well for both common issues and temporary workarounds. In the latter case, don’t be afraid to be transparent about the existence of the problems that you’re working to settle. Customers will appreciate this as it saves everyone’s time in the long run.

For example, if your application is experiencing server issues and it’s a known problem your team is repairing, it would be a good idea to notify your users so they know what to expect. You should also notify them every step of the way so they feel their issues are being handled in a timely manner. Building a proactive customer experience like this makes your customers feel like their voice is heard.

Understand Your Clients

B2B companies tend to have less social media engagement and customer feedback compared to B2C.

One common issue in B2B companies is that most feedback comes from decision makers who don’t necessarily personally use the purchased products or services.

Rely on Simplicity

Customers don’t want complicated solutions. From navigating your website to check out and using your product or service should be a seamless experience.

Make sure your website works with any device your clients might use and modifies its design for optimal usage. This way, you’ll ensure your customers get the same experience across multiple channels. If your website isn’t mobile optimized, this is a great place to start.

It’s also important to ensure your product fits well in your customer’s workflow and doesn’t require any extra technical support to set up and run.

Implement Dynamic Content

Use automated tracking tools to identify new and repeat visitors to present them with the information relevant to their last visit. Using dynamic content can increase customer engagement and improve CX.

Key Takeaways

B2B customers can be challenging to please and the process of getting to know their needs can be tedious. Still, if done right, B2B customer service can give you a definitive competitive advantage, improve retention and build your reputation.

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