As digital access becomes more and more on-demand, it becomes increasingly important to anticipate the needs of your customers, ensure information and assistance are easily accessible and continue to remain top of mind for your new and existing customers.
Why is the B2B customer experience so important?
Creating a great experience for new and existing customers is the cornerstone of driving brand loyalty and retaining your customer base. Studies show that 80% of customers are willing to pay more for better customer experience, and 43% of customers spend more with companies that have earned their loyalty.
It’s also a cost-savings to create a great experience with your current customers and retain their business rather than making new acquisitions: recruiting new customers costs five times as much as retaining current ones.
This idea is universal across the B2B customer experience. In fact, 80% of B2B buyers expect the same buying experience as B2C customers. Individuals expect the same level of service and experience regardless of whether they’re making purchases for their personal needs or their business needs.
This makes a lot of sense, especially when you consider that millennials, known for being the on-demand generation, are now coming of age and carrying weight in their workplace—41% of millennials are making or influencing B2B purchasing decisions, and an additional 38% are tasked with researching purchases for decisionmakers.
Creating a great B2B customer experience starts with understanding your customers and their needs. As customer expectations evolve, you need to be able to tailor content not just to a general idea of what your customers need, but specifically to individual customers and accounts.
The simplest way to do this? Take on an inbound marketing mindset.
Inbound marketing is the idea of providing genuinely valuable content to prospects and leads via blogs, whitepapers, email, videos, and social media content. This is a less traditional approach than outbound marketing, which includes more traditional channels and typically asks directly for a sale.
While both tactics have their merits, a recent survey by Hubspot revealed that 46% of marketers state inbound offers a higher ROI, and 45% of marketers cite inbound tactics as their primary source of new leads.
Here are four simple steps to ensure that your customers are happy and experiencing the best possible service from your brand:
Continue the Conversation
Your inbound marketing efforts don’t stop once you’ve converted an individual from a lead to a customer. They made a conscious choice to purchase based on the experience and treatment they received throughout the sales journey, and if that experience ends abruptly, you’re likely to lose your customer to a competitor who might offer a better experience and level of service.
Customer experience for B2B purchases is particularly critical because there are typically larger investments at stake, and the success of both businesses hinges on a successful relationship.
Personalize Content Offerings
Consider different points in the customer journey where someone might need assistance or benefit from an additional touchpoint, and offer content tailored to their mindset at that point. For example, imagine you’re a B2B software company and you’re considering an inbound approach for your existing customers.
A brand-new customer will likely benefit from onboarding messaging like webinars, tutorials, and emails that educate them about utilizing base-level services and features, while a more experienced user might be more interested in new features, product updates, advanced functionality, and any innovation you’re doing to ensure the product is continuing to meet their needs.
The digital age has made it easier than ever to collect user data to take this level of personalization to the next level. Content can easily be targeted to users based on individual criteria in user data and behaviors.
This level of individual personalization isn’t just a nice-to-have, either—users are aware that companies are collecting their data, and expect them to use it responsibly. In fact, 53% of consumers would switch their spending to a provider that excels at personalizing their experiences without losing trust.
Trying to determine this level of personalization manually isn’t only difficult, it becomes essentially impossible as your customer volume increases. Additionally, the more manual your processes are, the more room there is for human error.
There are few things more irritating to a customer than receiving content that is completely off-base for their needs, either in error or lack of personalization.
Marketing automation makes it far simpler to understand your customer behavior and automatically send them content based on their actions. A really robust CRM software will offer dynamic rule-building capabilities, customizable workflows and triggers, and automated drips.
Some advanced automation services like SharpSpring offer the capability to integrate directly with Postback data and other third-party services to include direct-mail and automated service calls as part of your automation workflows.
Ask for Direct Feedback
As much as automation and hard-and-fast numerical data are appealing, these aren’t “set it and forget it” solutions to customer experience. Creating a customer journey requires careful thought and an understanding of how you’re performing. By regularly reaching out to customers and asking them how you’re doing, you can better measure your customer satisfaction.
Don’t discount the opportunity for a direct connection to your customers. As you build automated workflows, consider more than just email and content offerings.
It’s important to build in touchpoints for customer conversations, either over the phone or via an online survey to get input on how you can improve your B2B customer satisfaction levels.
Understanding how people interact with your brand isn’t limited to your prospects and leads. Your existing customers are your most valuable asset, and communicating with them is a critical part of your continued growth.
Ensure that as you’re working toward growth, you’re continuing to offer a valuable, seamless B2B customer experience over time in order to retain their business.