What is the Customer Experience in B2B markets and companies?
B2B challenges frequently make the B2C obstacles look like a cakewalk. They are, indeed, unique in light of the demands coming at the HR, marketing, sales, customer support, and production departments from all sides. Therefore, the latest B2B customer experience trends have defined the path for sales enablement as a popular corporate discipline. It’s the label given to an integrative regimen that brings the contribution of all these departments together, and one that encourages a team approach to tackling the B2B Customer Experience (CX) effectively.
- Customer Experience in B2B organizations boils down to the level of satisfaction all the decision-makers in the buying company have at every touchpoint with the seller in a competitive environment.
- Relatively poor B2B CX generally results in prospects falling off the bandwagon before signing the dotted line.
- As far as existing customers go, it’s a case of abandoning the seller’s client list in favor of a competitor’s offer.
- In both the above scenarios, the pain is severe, the costs massive, and the chances of reversal minimal.
- The goal, therefore, is to ensure that your B2B customer journey mapping identifies counteractive touchpoints as they appear.
Customer retention is a pillar of competent sales enablement programs. It depends on the appropriate and timely use of every feedback tool available through SaaS and digital advancement. The ones at the forefront of B2B company preferences are rep and customer support feedback after every call recorded and injected into the customer overview. These are more penetrative than customer surveys, and particularly the favored B2C option NPS (Net Promoter Score), which is at the top of the list.
Success centers on B2B customer experience management appreciating the complicated process of reaching the buyers who lead the charge, and all those in the background swaying the decision one way or another. Naturally, also, B2B customer service plays into decisive seller actions to resonate with the customer audience.
All the critical aspects of the B2B CX mentioned in this introduction require expansion and focus, which we give in the rest of the article.
Initiating B2B Customer Experience Programs
The best practice is to launch a CX program as a C-level directive. From there, everyone committed to sales enablement as the optimal way toward B2B CX success should see reason and purpose for jumping on board. Incorporating a sales enablement content strategy ensures buy-in from colleagues in marketing. Training involving the induction of procedures and new technologies is the best way to anchor team coordination and secure its commitment.
Here are three cautions you should be aware of:
- There should be no ambiguity in the outlined objectives
- The methods for achieving touchpoint oversight must be practical and worth the time to implement.
- Management failure to engage the team that turns the wheels and makes things happen will result in a collapse of the program before it gets off the ground.
Case Study and Example
‘A’ is a seller of flooring materials. He has connected to a construction developer (‘B’) building a multi-family project. It’s a typical B2B example.
- On B’s side of the decision to contract with ‘A’, there’s his general contractor, his architect, and his three partners (i.e., six parties including the developer as the final decider).
- On A’s side, there’s his installation team, his manufacturers, his customer support team, sales reps, and marketing team (i.e., six parties).
- From the time the construction project sees the light, the ten parties connect in a complex web of interaction.
- On the one hand, A’s supporters will communicate amongst themselves, as will B’s supporters, so that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.
- Then ‘A’ and ‘B’ players will touch each other in multiple ways during the decision-making process. These touchpoints work dynamically to remove objections, instill confidence, and influence B’s belief that ‘A’ can get the job done better than any competitor.
- Any detractors, or naysayers, or touchpoints that go awry for whatever reason can kill the sale even at the point where things look sewn up.
- A’s success in any B2B sales project depends on knowing that the network of touchpoints is working in his favor.
- The only way to be sure is to get consistent feedback and alerts when a touchpoint goes wrong. Then, have a system in place to address negative feedback and improve the B2B customer experience.
The challenge of getting timely and accurate B2B CX feedback
B2B is anything but one shoe fits all. Impulse seldom drives the selling process, which contains many customized and ROI-centric characteristics. Even if you get this project right, it doesn’t mean that the next one with the same customer will go the same way. When there are not thousands of customers in the pipeline, conventional survey results and Big Data are of limited use.
In the above case study, which is typical of many B2B scenarios:
‘A’ must put himself in the buyer’s shoes and establish a shortcut to the interactions that will move mountains. If he doesn’t do it that way, feedback “science” will swamp him with so much B2B customer journey mapping work; he’ll run out of room to sell or market. Moreover, his team will likely get confused, spending too much time talking to the wrong people about less important things. That said, ‘A’ should ask the following crucial questions:
- Whom does the ‘A’ team want to get feedback from, and when?
- Of all the hundreds of touchpoints, which are the ten or so that will make the difference?
- Who in the B’s team has the casting vote?
- What’s the decision deadline?
In short, B2B business is a team business of cutting to the chase even if some touchpoints go unmonitored. Here are nine guidelines we recommend:
- Update the data and other information right after every sales or support call (i.e., pivotal touchpoints) with a B2B customer or important listener.
- You should seamlessly develop this dynamic information base with minimal pack drill. Mobile phones on a link and a Saas AI program can make this easy.
- As the seller, you should second the full team to submit ideas about the buyer parties we need to know more from.
- Use the updated information to upgrade the B2B services. In other words, keep improving the CX.
- Don’t waste time creating feedback on flimsy or minor decision influencers, unless you detect that their influence is impacting the thoughts of the real players.
- Following on from (5) above, develop a respondent map for the buyer organization rating the importance of each party connected to the buying decision. In essence, take it a step further by creating B2B personas.
- Monitor feedback from all sources as they relate to the identified deal rainmakers.
- Integrate the feedback accumulation into your CRM to automate your contact management as part of the sales enablement system.
- Take advantage of all B2B Saas apps to analyze and collate the metrics emerging from the feedback.
How well did the guidelines work to improve B2B CX in our case study?
- A’s sales enablement team identified that the developers’ partners had minimal involvement in operations. Conversely, ‘B’ relied heavily on the general contractor’s and the architect’s advice. ‘A’ decided to focus touchpoint analysis on these parties only.
- The timeline estimated for a decision on 100,000 square feet of flooring and installation was three weeks. Therefore the pace of the B2B CX was going to be hectic, and there was no time to waste on touchpoints with little relevance to the core influences.
- The big differentiator emerged quickly as A’s relative ability to shorten the supply line from the traditional importer – distributor – warehouse channel, to manufacturer-direct supply. ‘B’ believed (and he was right) it was the only way to obtain significantly lower pricing without sacrificing quality.
- Manufacturer direct, while compelling, was not enough. For ‘A’ to get the deal closed, he had to provide a broad selection (i.e., not the few boring same old, same old that most distributors feature) and install so that it’s a one-stop deal.
Here is how it translated out to a positive result in the predicted timeline:
- A’s team concentrated its efforts on meeting with the three primary parties identified as the rainmakers.
- A’s major touchpoint parties were the Sales reps, the installation coordinator, relevant manufacturers, and customer support online. He mapped B’s customer journey around these people and their customer interactions with B’s team.
- ‘A’ trained every department quickly to communicate, understand, and promote the over 50 flooring manufacturers in his resource pool.
- The manufacturers were briefed and ready to accommodate customer tours of the factory if required.
- ‘A’ structured his Saas apps in the CRM to inform management regarding customer status after every touchpoint.
- The Saas program connected into highlighting competitors bidding against ‘A’ and how they impeded A’s efforts.
- Using the updated information as provided, procedures and communications were adjusted to improve things and close any detected gaps.
- Where feedback indicated a severe stall or decision-influencer objection, the Saas sent out an alert for urgent action. For example, an unimpressive product display at one of the manufacturers was a flashing red light.
- Also, the ‘A’ team counter-attacked any competitor actions, if found to be compelling. For example, a competitor offered to fly B’s representative free-of-charge to meet a manufacturer in China. ‘A’ found an even more impressive, quicker, and less expensive method by combining a Zoom call with video and a pitch deck.
Useful journey mapping for improving the B2B customer experience is miles apart from anything you’re used to for consumer CX. The time pressures and unique, almost one-off requirements place extraordinary demands on sellers to tie up all the loose ends without reliance on data that points to behavior conformity. Saas that provides customized feedback is an essential part of any B2B CX management program. Getting the team from all departments to buy into the process is imperative. Consult with the professionals behind SoGoCX, an affordable B2B CX solution. The team understands the ins and outs of B2B industries and how to gear the right Saas feedback methods to work in every situation. Mapping B2B CX within your CRM is Sogolytics’s bread-and-butter business, so let them work for you to put your banking team ahead of the CX game.