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The Ultimate Guide to Providing a Seamless Customer Experience in B2B

Marianna

October 7, 2021 |

Well, every day, we are getting personalized recommendations and customized reminders from several B2C companies – but most B2Bs don’t seem to give it much thought. (No wonder why most B2B start-ups fail to become word of mouth!)

For example, tailored recommendations from Netflix, great contact center support from Discover, and innovative tech solutions from Apple.

What B2B companies don’t realize is that B2B buyers are made of flesh and blood, too, like the B2C buyers. Thus, B2C buyers, B2B buyers may want a personalized customer experience, too, led by better convenience. 

Though many B2Bs thought of customer experience as a great priority – their thoughts didn’t match their words until the pandemic hit. We see a change in the tide as far as customer experience is concerned in a B2B.

What is Customer Experience?

Customer Experience or CX is nothing but a customer’s perception regarding the brand or the company. According to the statistics, 86% of consumers would pay more for a good customer experience. So, now you know what a difference it makes. 

It all begins when someone hears about your company for the first time and decides to interact. Combining the services imparted by your sales, marketing, and support team – sums up the whole customer experience.

For example, while the user interface is a part of the customer experience, it’s not the only factor contributing to the experience.

To ensure a seamless customer experience in a B2B, you certainly don’t need to pull crazy stunts; playing it smart and understanding the customers’ mindset makes everything fall into place.

Why Does Customer Experience Matter in 2021 for B2B Brands?

With the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 has changed the way B2Bs used to perceive customer experience. B2Bs have finally shifted their focus from robotic funnels to practical, real-life customer experiences. 

Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal to companies due to the experience they receive. If you cannot keep up with their increasing demands, your customers will leave you.

According to a recent study by the Temkin Group, companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to earn, on average, an additional $700 million within three years of investing in customer experience.

For example, 49% of buyers have made impulse purchases after receiving a more personalized experience.

And, 

For example, 54 percent of people expect to receive a personalized discount within 24 hours of identifying themselves, and 32 percent expect a discount after just one hour.

No business can survive without buyers, and if you want too many of them – it is time to revamp your customer experience strategy. 

How Does Customer Experience Help You Improve Sales?

Happier Customers, Better Revenue

If you’re in a B2B, you would know that there’s nothing better than a happy customer. The happier your customers are, the better your chances of increasing revenue will be as those customers will hardly choose anybody over you. 

According to a study, the upselling statistics of the business grew by 32%. When your customers are getting the experience they desire from your company, they stay. 

If you ensure a better customer experience for all their purchases from the beginning, they will surely consider purchasing more from you than anyone else.

Better Experience, Longer Customer Retention

You know what it takes to convert a prospect into a lead in a B2B, right? And, it’s not at all easy. So, investing your every bit of effort to keep them to you will surely pay off. However, ensuring the best customer experience for them is like a cherry on the cake. 

According to a study, investing in better CX can upscale your customer retention by 42%. Instead of diverting all your focus to acquire new customers, focus on keeping the existing ones. The chances of getting an increased revenue are more in the existing customers than in the new ones. 

No matter how cheap a price you are offering or how your customer service team helps – if the customer doesn’t bag an awesome experience, he/she will probably not return to you anytime soon.

Satisfying Experience, Good Word of Mouth

Even though we live in a world of technology, word of mouth is still more capable of convincing an individual than any exciting feature or offer. According to a study, 23% of customers with a positive experience told at least ten people about it.

If you give a customer a good experience, they will surely tell others about that. So, you are, in a way, multiplying your customers and increasing your revenue at the same time. 

Going by the statistics, 88% of consumers trust online reviews from strangers, and 92% of them are more likely to believe suggestions from friends and family than ads. So, consider word of mouth as your best friend when it comes to customer experience.

Better Service, More Customers

Nowadays, everyone is offering top-notch services, including great customer service. So, how to make yourself stand out from the crowd? Well, you can, by ensuring that your customer experience is top-notch. 

Once a customer is satisfied with your service, they will tell others about it – thus bringing in more customers. So, by investing little in upscaling the customer experience, you’re gaining scopes of better lead generation.

More Personalization, More Purchases

A slight touch of personalization can take you a long way. For example, promoting an offer with the name of the particular customer or giving discounts on the products your customers search for the most can help to aid a better customer experience.

Once you give personalized offers and discounts on certain products they want to purchase, your customers are bound to shop much more than expected.

How To Create An Actionable Customer Experience Strategy?

Understand Your Customer

Did you know that 71% of companies that exceed their revenue and lead goals use buyer personas? To make your company stand out among all, you first need to understand your customers’ pain points. 

So, we suggest, take your time and assess your customers’ pain points thoroughly. If you understand what your customers want and need to elevate their career growth, you can only convert their interest into your brand loyalty. 

Strong team building

To build a great team that can impart top-notch customer experience, you need to choose the right individuals. By combining each individual’s knowledge, skills, and influence, you can surely develop the prospectus of an ideal team.

Behind a great customer experience, there is a strong team that helps to impart it. The teams need to work together to establish a great CX vision and experience goals that align with business goals and are feasible within the existing technology platform.

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Invespro says, “Chatbots can save up to 30% in customer support costs and can help businesses by speeding up response time and answering up to 80% FAQs”.

As a result of artificial intelligence, Chatbots can help businesses dramatically enhance their customer experience and achieve faster growth. Instead of hiring a human, you can keep chatbots ready at your customer’s disposal.

Even if humans can make certain manual errors, a programmed chatbot can never ensure a great customer experience.

Investment in System and Tools

Without investing in some great tools and system updates, it is hardly possible for your company to stand out and make a difference. Choosing and implementing the right tools is important to encourage customers to have greater interaction with your brand.

If your focus is to increase the customer experience, you need to choose such digital tools that would not only engage your customers but also add value to them. 

For example, coming up with a virtual spinning wheel for your customers. Your customers can have fun while spinning it and testing their luck. Once it stops, each customer reveals some discounts or offers on certain purchases.

Begin with a Clear Customer-Centric Vision

Before you even begin investing in anything, you need to figure out what values and ethics your company stands for. 86% of the buyers tend to go for a company that doesn’t offer against their values and ethics. 

Customers have come a long way from being attracted by cheaper price tags and discount coupons. Now, every customer looks in-depth and assesses the brand values before anything else.

Consider Customer Feedback

If you don’t know what your customers think about your brand, you’re probably making mistakes. In a space like B2B, critical feedback by customers is important to make a difference in your efforts. 

The key objective of every business is to please customers, satisfy their needs, and eventually keep them loyal to your brand. And, you can only fulfill their expectations if you know their problems and wants thoroughly. 

Thus, asking your customers for feedback plays a vital role in ensuring the best experience for your customers. And, if you are already considering customer experience, then feedback might help you improve.

Measure Your Metrics

Did you know that 21% of companies have developed their own KPIs to track customer experience? It is critical to measure CX systematically, comprehensively, and efficiently by using the right metrics in the customer journey. 

It is very important to measure the customer metrics of every business. Besides, the metrics also help you understand how well your business performs and customers’ perception of your products and services.

Top trends in b2b Customer Experience Strategies of 2021

Almost 80% of B2B buyers now expect the same buying experience as B2C customers. Though previously B2Bs were not much into the concept of customer experience, the scenario has now changed quite a bit recently. Forrester predicts that B2B firms will move away from “just selling” and instead focus on customer experience management.

Customer-centric Approach

Almost 79% of employees in CX leading companies are engaged, compared with 49% in the companies whose CX is below average. Though many businesses are taking part in the customer experience game, they fail to understand that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

It requires thoroughly planned preparation, a long-term view and needs everyone to be on board. 

If you want to bring the voice of the customer into your organization, recruit a cross-functional team and consistently work on understanding your customers’ needs.

Omnichannel Communications

Omnichannel offers a personalized experience for the customers across all channels and devices. However, the main goal is to make the customer journey as easy as possible, and it is quite a trend as far as customer experience is concerned. 

Forrester says, “In most cases, B2B buyers research online even if buying offline later. […] At the same time, online channels are beginning to overtake more traditional buying channels.”

Omnichannel doesn’t mean “to exist in all possible online channels.” It’s much more than that. Digital is just another channel to the customer. A truly customer-centric approach embraces the customer at all phases throughout their journey.

Importance to the Voice of the Customer

When it comes to the ongoing B2B trends, the voice of the customer tends to stand out. It is nothing but the customers’ feedback about their experiences and expectations for your products or services. 

If your business doesn’t have ample VoC, it’s high time you start pitching in push notifications and feedback pop-ups. The better the reviews and feedback on your product, the more purchasers you will gain.

Plan the way you communicate

It is only with the help of good communication that you can ensure a great customer experience for your customers. The better your communications will be, the more positive will be your brand image and reputation.

The difference regarding B2B organizations is that you are communicating both “business-to-business” and “individual-to-individual” all at once. It is worth noting that many B2B relationships are strong due to their longevity and recurring sales and interactions.

Personalized Services

Who doesn’t like to be the special one? Everyone. So do your customers. And the best way to pamper your customers is by offering them personalized services. Gartner predicted that by 2018, B2B companies with e-commerce personalization would outsell competitors, who were not providing a personalized experience by 30%.

In the competitive B2B market, where the sales cycle is much longer and usually involves direct communication, the customer experience should be personalized as much as possible.

Best Practices for a Seamless Customer Experience

  • Understand Your Customers – Understanding should be an essential part of your customer retention strategy. Creating customer personas is a must for any business. Not only can this help your agents adopt the right tone and solutions needed when dealing with customer queries, but it can influence your service offering too. Try to get customer feedback whenever you can and act upon it where necessary. Knowing customer preferences can help you see where the biggest investments need to be made.
  • Choice of Channels – If you’re not giving your customers all the options for their preferred means of communication, they’ll simply shop elsewhere. For a seamless omnichannel experience, you need to offer every form of communication that your customers use while shopping. This could mean anything from a physical store to email, social media, SMS, apps, and chatbots that would help resolve their queries faster.
  • Tracking – Tracking every step of the journey through your customer service department can show what’s working and what procedures need refining. On a basic level, all customer interactions need to be tracked, so agents have a step-by-step record of a complaint or inquiry immediately at their disposal.
  • Cloud-Based Software – Businesses that have managed the shift from office-based to home-based working have been one step ahead during the past year. A cloud-based operating system makes such necessary shifts in company policy much easier than ever before. Given Covid-19’s impact on both office and store-based approaches, a reliable remote work strategy should be the norm for any business model.
  • Stay Ahead – Preferences for specific forms of social media come and go. But keeping up with the latest technology and ensuring it fits seamlessly into your existing framework is a must if you want to win the trend. Find out what your competitors are offering and see if it can benefit your channels. Don’t forget that great customer support is not only there to solve problems, but it can generate more sales by enhancing your brand’s reputation and encouraging customer loyalty.
  • Develop your customer support team – If your team understands how much you value customer experience, it can give them the incentive they need to go the extra mile. Creating a culture that values customer service is a hectic process. You will need to identify the training needs for every member of your support team, starting with managers. It is also important to schedule and track development through eLearning, group training, and coaching.
  • Let your customers choose – Customers should be able to choose how they interact with your company, email, SMS, live chat, social media, or phone. You must provide them with ample options and give them the flexibility to choose their own.
  • Do Not Make The Customer Repeat – Most customers will leave halfway through and never return if they need to repeat. It is tiring and increases your website’s or app’s bounce rate. So, avoid any steps that are not helping the customer or the process. An efficient system should ensure that the customer doesn’t have to repeat herself if she has switched to a different channel.
  • Offer Omnichannel Support – With an omnichannel strategy, your agents will know which customer is buying in-store/in-app or via the website and how they interact on other channels. There is no seamless experience without omnichannel support. Customers should feel well-connected with all the touchpoints of the brand. 
  • Propel Decision Making – The ultimate goal for all this work is to convert the prospect into a customer. To enable this conversion, create an experience that allows the prospect to decide easily. Restrict the number of choices you offer, but make sure whatever you offer has value-added for them.
  • Enable Customer Feedback – Feedbacks can be collected at various instances; however, it shouldn’t be too pushy and intrusive. Customer feedback is golden information that can lead to innovation and enhance the experience.

Steps To B2B Customer Experience Excellence

  • Foster a Customer-Centric Culture – B2B businesses often have a sales-oriented heritage, so shifting to a customer-centric paradigm can be challenging. Educate and communicate with your people to move the whole organization in a customer-centric direction. Developing a customer-centric culture means putting the customer at the center of everything. This should begin with a root-and-branch appraisal of the customer journey. Construct a customer journey map to identify every customer touchpoint.
  • Make Full Use of Technology – New technologies are developed rapidly, so it’s important to remain abreast of these. Novel inventions rapidly become mainstream. B2B companies need to be fully aware of the digital channels and touchpoints available to them. You should also be examining opportunities around data analytics.
  • Derive Continuous Feedback – An effective technique is to carry out quick customer experience surveys. Don’t expect B2B buyers to complete lengthy, detailed questionnaires. Assume they have practically no spare time for anything. Feedback needs to be continuous because everything is always changing. New products and services, new contexts and requirements. Collecting feedback highlights what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Develop Customer Insight – B2B organizations can address this by getting to know individual customers better. Specifically, the requirements that they must meet, such as deadlines and internal processes.
  • Deliver Outstanding Customer Service – B2B customer lifecycles tend to be more cyclical rather than linear. This calls for different service strategies and metrics that constantly monitor customer satisfaction. The goal of great customer service is to continuously improve customer satisfaction. You can’t afford to rest on your laurels. Customer service revolves around answering queries throughout the customer journey.
  • Act on feedback – Some organizations have been slow because B2C experiences are shaping B2B customer expectations. All should recognize that their future success rests on delivering an excellent B2B customer experience. It’s a growth area attracting lots of investment, but not all investments are worthwhile.

The six pillars of B2B customer experience

  • Satisfaction – 38% of B2B companies do well on this vital need, showing a demand for B2B firms to far better straighten their offering with consumer desires and also wishes. Numerous B2B companies are guilty of offering products or services that they wish to market instead of what the consumer values and desires. After that, the following column of consumer experience quality connects to understanding and providing consumer requirements.
  • Responsiveness is a vital consumer experience quality column that extends touchpoints throughout the consumer trip, such as interactions, shipments, and concern resolution. It is important to make the clients feel that they are one of the most vital consumers being offered, and also responsiveness goes a lengthy method towards showing to clients that they are valued.
  • Advancement – 27% of B2B companies state they do well on this continual improvement procedure; almost three-fourths of B2B firms, for that reason, recognize their weak point in not attending to the consumer experience continuously. The company has to constantly enhance the consumer experience since consumer requirements, habits, and mindsets transform gradually.
  • Seamlessness – A crucial vehicle driver of total complete satisfaction and commitment is the convenience of working with the provider. If it’s doing a business, a reseller, or a monetary solutions provider, seamlessness is important to an effective consumer experience.
  • Dedication – The first step in consumer experience quality is to be dedicated to pleasing clients and making them feel valued. Without that dedication, it is substantially harder to do well on the staying columns of consumer experience quality.
  • Proactivity – A simple quarter of B2B companies confess to carrying out well on proactivity. The extra advanced customer-centric services are those that are positive in providing an exceptional customer experience. Such companies prepare for consumer requirements and wishes and make every effort to fix problems before consumers feel discomfort. Doing so calls for the provider to stroll in the consumer’s footwear to anticipate possible consumer requirements.

How to Improve B2B Customer Experience

  • Ensure Customer Retention – You will improve the customer retention rates if you simply listen to these businesses. If a business team already decided to work with you, they will have high expectations you’ll need to meet. Send surveys, asking what aspects of the service and overall experience they would like you to improve. It will be easier for you to give them exactly what they are looking for when you have that data.
  • Provide Content of Great Value – Your website should include a blog that will deliver high-quality articles related to your niche. You practically need to train businesses how to use your product or service in the best way possible. You want to show them how they can achieve better results by taking the right steps to become your users. 
  • Make Personalized Initiatives – A B2B brand also needs a customer-centric strategy. Your team should focus on the needs of the specific customer, which will fundamentally change their experience. Whenever your sales representatives try to convince a manager to start relying on your business, they should show them how this decision will affect their work.
  • Make Customer Outcomes Your Focus – This will be critical for your company as you look to build broader awareness in the marketplace, generate new leads to grow your business, and arm your sales team with a differentiated value proposition. The key is to ensure that you and your customers can quantify specifically how your product delivers value for them.
  • Make sure you’re on the right journey – In B2B sales, you may need to convince anyone from admin assistants to the CFO. You’ll also need a solid understanding of who’s involved in specifying, influencing, and approving the purchase. Focus on identifying the specific segments that you’ll play in and work to understand what the buying journey looks like for each. This includes taking into account how buyers think and feel at various stages of the buyer journey.
  • Train Your Customer Support Teams – Customer support is an important aspect of a client’s overall experience with your business. A study released by Avanade found that for every dollar invested in customer experience improvement, businesses were generating three dollars in return. This means that improving the customer experience is not a waste; it’s a smart investment to increase customer lifetime value. They will contact the support before closing the deal, with the hope of finding more information and negotiate the terms.
  • Anticipate the Behavior of Your Clients – B2B organizations must engage in predictive analytics, so they can not only understand but also anticipate and influence their customers’ decisions. The CIAM tool and the surveys you send give you valuable data about your customers. You don’t get data just because you want more of it. You get it because it gives you practical incentives that can make your business better.
  • Invest in Digital Commerce – A CIAM solution usually comes with features like customer registration, preference and consent management, self-service account management, and more. In other words, the businesses that come to your business for products or services will get an entirely personalized experience through your online platform. Through this process, they provide you with valuable data that enables you to personalize their experience.

Conclusion

With that, we have told you all about imparting a seamless customer experience in a B2B. The foundation of b2b customer experience excellence is a commitment to putting the customer at the core of what the company does, how it does it, and why it does it. As less than half of the b2b firms are not concerned about delivering a seamless customer experience yet, there are high chances for you to be ahead of the game.

Marianna

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