In the digital age we now live in, a wealth of information about your company (and your competitors) is available online for clients to access and share. That means many more voices are potentially influencing them and it’s increasingly easy to switch between suppliers quickly.
With a majority of businesses in the B2B space providing their product as a service, the myth that customer experience is a purely B2C focus is long gone. Clients have been empowered through the use of technology, and generating strong customer advocacy is now critical for retention and renewals. Yet Accenture has found only 23% of all B2B companies achieve strong returns on their customer experience investments, with 20% achieving low or no return at all. This presents a clear opportunity.
Managing customer experience has traditionally fallen to marketing, with retention activity being included as part of the whole lead to revenue process. However, to be successful, businesses must now be driving a consistently great service through every client-facing department.
Marketing will nurture a lead by tailoring the approach and messaging they use, according to the stage of the buyer journey that a prospect has reached. In the same way, the wider business should be using this strategy to improve customer experience, meaning you need to have all processes and strategies aligned to suit customer priorities.
Knowing how to get your customer-centric approach right is the first important step. Typically, it can take at least two years for a midsize company to change their approach but there are many strong reasons for doing so. They include:
- Customer retention. It’s what it’s all about. With a well-designed customer experience strategy, you’ll find your retention levels improve dramatically. Buyers are far less likely to change supplier when they are happy with their experience.
- Customer experience. It can be a great differentiator in a crowded market. If you want to stand out in today’s B2B market place, then invest in making it effortless to become and remain your customer.
The place to start is by creating a customer experience plan that will help you identify which channels clients use to engage with you and whether you’re meeting their needs. Map out the buyer journey and align your strategy to meet the needs of clients at each touchpoint, making sure each channel matches their expectations.
For example, where do your clients look online for support? Where do they talk about your service and share opinions? Do new clients download more whitepapers than old ones and, does your content match their needs?
Make sure you are collecting and measuring data regularly, to identify which channels are the most valuable in terms of retention, your brand, support, and retaining and generating business.
Remember, no matter what the size of your business may be, your clients will expect you to know their problems and needs – whether they’re one person or a larger purchasing team within a complex B2B sales cycle. Try and read their minds! Use data to understand past behaviour, as well as possible future ones (predictive analysis). Know exactly who you are dealing with and what their intentions are. Not only will this increase your chances to cross-sell and upsell but, it will also help move them along the buyer journey.
It will take time and you need to be fully committed to getting it right, but once you perfect outstanding customer experience, it could transform your business.