You might think that the lowest prices or the most unique product is the key to competing in the B2B marketplace. Another important factor – the customer experience – cannot be ignored.
Even if you have the cheapest options or have a sought-after item, a bad experience can put customers off and send them off to your competitors.
By taking a customer-centric approach, you can grow your customer base and stay at the forefront of your area of expertise. But how do I start?
Here are five tips for improving your B2B company's customer experience.
1. Analyze your current status
While it can be tempting to just dive in and revise your entire approach, it won't get you anywhere. Your efforts must be based on accurate data. Spend time researching your customer base: their needs, their irritations, and their behavior. You can do this in several ways:
- Review sales documents. See where your customers are spending their money. Pay special attention to repeat sales.
- Ask your customer base directly. Submit surveys and see what responses you get.
- Take a look at the industry statistics. Make sure what you offer fits the requirements.
- Monitor your online shop. Use Google Analytics to see how well your website is performing and for which products.
- Talk to your sales reps. Find out what the most common calling them about.
These details will give you a good starting point to understand what needs to be changed.
If you find that your sales reps receive regular calls about a particular product, that's where they focus your attention. If you find that certain products aren't selling, it might be worth removing and doing more work elsewhere.
Source: "The customer experience in B2B … it is behind the times"
2. Use omnichannel strategies
As you increase the number of platforms your business is available on, the likelihood of customers getting into your sales funnel – the process of converting browsers into buyers – increases.
Unfortunately, many companies fall into the trap of being reachable on many platforms but fail to establish links between themThis can be confusing and make it difficult for customers to place orders or subscribe.
Follow an omnichannel strategy that ensures that all of the platforms you use are interconnected. Each channel should be consistent and interconnected so that you provide a seamless experience whenever and however a customer contacts you.
For example, a customer who previously communicated via live chat or email can call one of your agents. If you're using a true omnichannel platform, your agent will have instant access to those previous messages. As a result, the customer doesn't have to go through the same information, instantly feels like your team is on the ball, and enjoys an improved CX.
Although an omnichannel strategy requires an initial investment, this is a great way to be customer-centric as you get to where customers already are instead of waiting for them to contact you.
3. Personalize the customer experience
It's important to convert new prospects into buyers, but also to keep them. Small changes can have a big impact. You can build customer loyalty and get your customers to come back instead of looking elsewhere. They can also lead to more referrals and thus increase your customer base.
Here are some simple things to start with:
- One-click subscription renewals: Allow customers to easily renew or renew a subscription instead of treating them like a new customer.
- Personalized Offers: Customize your email marketing based on how your customer uses your product or service. For example, you can offer a free limited-time upgrade to a premium offer.
- Related information: Share e-books, white papers, or other resources relevant to the products a customer is using.
- Loyalty Rewards: Give cash for a subscription, discount on a related service, or other alternative.
Source: "B2B and Content Personalization: Where We Are, Where We Go"
There are ways to personalize customer experiences beyond online platforms. Examine these methods using the same data you found while analyzing your company.
4. Try new marketing methods
Many B2B companies approach marketing strategies as if they were communicating with other companies. While this is technically true, the person in charge of purchases at these companies is just that: a person. Buyers are more standard consumers than we can imagine, and they likely have expectations based on their experiences with B2C businesses.
Source: "Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends for B2B Content Marketing 2020"
Check out how B2C companies approach their marketing – especially social media presence and email campaigns. Test new approaches and collect data on their success rates. Test one thing at a time to make sure the data you get is directly related to your efforts. That way, you can narrow down what works and what doesn't.
5. Be available 24/7
Most B2B companies have global customers, meaning customers in many different time zones. By making sure that you are available 24/7, at least in some way, you can increase customer satisfaction significantly.
Technology can help. For example, with a VoIP telephone system, you can hire customer service representatives who work from all over the world. Depending on the time of day, customers are routed to the agents who are on shift and available.
Of course, it is impractical for some companies to have a calling team working all the time, but that doesn't mean they can't offer a method of communication. A chatbot or an automated scheduling service on your website can keep customers happy. Such channels can either resolve inquiries or support customers until someone is personally available.
The automated scheduling software allows customers to book appointments without having to rely on staff availability by viewing your staff's work schedule and open meeting times. A chatbot can help with common questions, either directing people to appropriate information on a website, or recording the details of a question for future reference. By linking the two, customers can even schedule a call back with queries so that they don't have to keep trying the phone lines.
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Of course, the tips above should be used on top of the effective strategies you already have. Not all customers want to change how they interact with you. That is why the first step of the analysis is so important! Being customer-centric also means serving those who are satisfied with the existing methods of interaction. Don't overwork things so drastically that these people are left behind.
If you combine the steps in this article with your current methods, you can attract a new customer base while keeping your regular customers happy.