The B2B Customer Experience in 2019

b2b customer experience

Whenever we start a conversation about customer experience, it seems like it’s B2C that gets to have all the fun. But if 2019 and beyond is likely to tell us anything, it’s that there really isn’t a huge division between these two types of buying experiences — not when small businesses speak for about half the workforce and its buying power, and pretty much always has. In other words, there’s considerable overlap between your target market and the “C” in “B2C.”

Make 2019 the year your B2B company rediscovers how to create a great experience in order to speak to, and better serve, your B2B customers, no matter who they may be.

Personalized Marketing Will Bridge the “Emotion Gap”

In some ways, we can probably expect the B2B customer experience to come to resemble the B2C experience. One of those ways involves the cultivation of experiences to bridge the “emotion gap.” That sounds like a lot of jargon, so let’s unpack it.

Most of the B2C marketing community has recognized the value of experiential marketing — and personalizing what you do is a big part of that. We’re used to thinking about the “customer experience” as something very prescribed and “fixed” in place: customers research products, they find one they like, and the buy it.

What does a personalized B2B experience look like in 2019? It means finding out what your customers and potential customers respond to. If you’re selling to other companies, it means you have (or should have) a very clear picture in your head of how your product or service can improve your customers’ businesses — and their customers’ lives. Your job is to leverage this imagery to create a story. You might even involve the stories of your existing clients, and their journeys with you, to create even more authenticity and genuine enthusiasm.

In other words, your customers all come from different places and do different things, but they all want to know how their experience with you will be different and how it will serve their interests, specifically.

Mobile Apps Are No Longer Optional

It’s the year 2019, and there are still some businesses out there with mobile apps that don’t scale properly for tablet or smartphone screens. At the other end of the spectrum, you have companies that are building apps for phones, tablets, smartphones, and even televisions. Apps help companies reach potential customers wherever they are, and on whichever platforms and devices they’re most likely to use. The make, model and configuration of the hardware in somebody’s hand shouldn’t keep you from building an experience that’s right for them.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to. All of the major tech companies have steadily made it easier to code and develop on their platforms, and building a responsive website for mobile users is more painless than it’s ever been. And consider the benefits: mobile apps let your B2B customers find company contact information quickly and order or re-order products and services on-the-fly.

You can use it as a direct communication conduit too, by taking advantage of push notifications to inform your customers and clients about new products or discounts, and even to exchange documentation about returns, exchanges, warranty claims, service calls and more.

More Companies Will “Go Full-Service”

In the general marketplace, you can probably count on just shy of 20 percent of customers being willing to go with another product, brand or company if it means securing a better buying experience. But as we’ve talked about, buying is just one small piece of the B2B world. Increasingly, B2B companies are seeing the value in offering a full-service experience to their clients.

As usual, McKinsey found the statistic that says it best: “B2B suppliers cannot choose between a great sales force and great digital assets and capabilities. To drive growth, they need both … 76 percent of B2B buyers find it helpful to speak to a salesperson when they are researching a new product or service.”

Let’s unpack this:

  • Customers don’t want personalized attention only when they’re reaching for their wallets. They want personability throughout every process.
  • Moreover; thanks to modern technology, B2B customers may interact with multiple web properties across numerous channels and devices. They want an experience that doesn’t become a blank slate each time they start a new interaction.
  • In other words, they want a relationship with your company that’s less ephemeral than we’re used to seeing in the age of e-commerce. They don’t want to have to explain themselves all over again if their account is handed to somebody else within your company.

It’s not just about creating a “continuity of experience.” The McKinsey report continues by pointing out that B2B customers, on average, “regularly use six different interaction channels throughout the decision journey, and almost 65 percent will come away from it frustrated by inconsistent experiences.”

It’s about consistent expectations, in other words — just like we want from the people and relationships in our lives.

If you want just one way to convince your clients and customers that there are human hands on the tiller at your company, there’s no better way to do it than using technology and talent to create consistent expectations and a fluid, harmonious experience from beginning to end.

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Nathan P. Sykes

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