More than product quality or price point, the biggest battleground for customer competition in 2021 remains customer experience (CX). And it’s clear from many studies and our lived experience that many organisations still have some work to do.
B2B (business-to-business) companies in particular are lagging across board, with research showing they have an average customer experience score of less than 50%, compared to a 65-85% average for B2Cs.
It’s also easy to overlook how heavily intertwined the two crucial elements of satisfaction and loyalty are with the overall customer experience. If two companies can offer the same level of product satisfaction in terms of quality and price, the one with the better customer experience will likely result in a more loyal customer. Likewise, loyalty may come from a lack of other options. It all comes down to customer expectation versus reality.
How customer experience (CX) strategies can help
The need for innovation and digital transformation has never been more important, and this is especially true in a world where customer expectations revolve around speed, efficiency and a high level of responsiveness and communication.
According to Hootsuite, typical B2B customers are already 53% of the way through the decision-making process before they engage with a sales professional, which is why it’s important to consider digitising the customer journey rather than relying on traditional face-to-face sales methods alone. And of course an increasing number of sales are conducted entirely online, cutting out the opportunity for a face-to-face interaction to cover for a deficient digital experience.
Where are B2Bs going wrong?
Very few large B2B companies (less than 15%) have truly embedded customer experience into the fabric of their organisational culture, according to B2B International. While this is necessary to create true change, it’s not without its challenges.
Because a B2B company’s customers and their buying patterns are often more complex than that of a B2C model, a B2B company will need to employ different, and in some cases more tailored, strategies to improve the overall customer experience.
“There’s no turning away from the fact that we operate in an experience-focused economy, which means that being able to offer a customer-centric experience is key – we can’t force buyers to change their behaviour to meet our solution,” Idea Science’s Lisa Mena says.
“In the B2C market there are already clear expectations shared by customers and businesses alike, but B2B is yet to catch up with customer expectations outweighing outcomes.”
And herein lies the opportunity for competitive advantage.
Improving the customer experience digitally
Digitising your own customer journey means meeting your customer needs at every point, so to start you need to identify what your customers’ unique needs and pain points are.
Selecting the issues that you can have the biggest impact on, the next step is to brainstorm and formulate potential business solutions.
Mapping them against the customer lifecycle will show you where they will be best implemented, so that you can adapt your CX to drive efficiency in the overall sales process and help you provide an omni-channel experience. This will not only meet your B2B customer’s needs at every touchpoint, but, if Hootsuite is right, can help you do more than half the sales legwork before they reach a person in your organisation.
Offering a more streamlined, personal and meaningful customer experience across all channels, both online and offline, will also help you to capture and retain loyal customers. And at the end of the day, that’s always an advantage.
Are you ready to maximise your B2B customer experience? Idea Science can help.