With 67% of people reporting that their standards for customer experience (CX) have never been higher, it’s no wonder that companies of all types are choosing to invest in CX. Modern, personalized customer experiences that rely on cutting-edge technology have played a major role in the business-to-consumer (B2C) market for many years. But now, business-to-business (B2B) clients are wanting similar elevated customer experiences. Many companies are now adopting user interfaces, such as portals, that reflect the customized and fast experiences typically seen in the B2C and B2B2C markets.
With B2B digital experiences continuing to play an increasingly crucial role in a company’s long-term success, it’s important that businesses work to improve and refine their online presence. But the question remains, what makes a great B2B customer experience? Let’s explore how organizations can meet B2B customer expectations and build long-lasting partnerships.
The Influence of B2C on the B2B Customer Experience
Before diving into what makes a great B2B experience, it’s helpful to know why the pressure is on for companies to improve their processes. According to Lumoa, 80% of B2B customers expect a buying experience similar to the quality received by B2C customers. However, B2B customer experiences rank far lower than their B2C counterparts. B2C companies are continually providing the latest in digital experiences in an effort to compete with one another in ways that may not be seen as often in the B2B realm.
According to Gartner, many B2B buyers feel that completing a purchase is complicated and time consuming, so it’s even more critical for sellers to provide their B2B audiences with well-designed user interfaces. With the right tools, businesses can use platforms to predict user needs based on past purchases, interests, services, and products, making the customer journey easy to navigate. Providing a digital experience that meets or exceeds customer expectations can help a company stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Great Customer Experience is Crucial for Building B2B Relationships
Great customer experience strategies reduce friction, providing users with a journey that meets their every need as quickly and easily as possible. While B2B audiences may not be as likely as their B2C counterparts to abandon a shopping experience or choose a competitor due to poor experiences, the impact of good interactions on long-term relationships is steadily increasing.
According to research regarding B2C and B2B experiences by The Tempkin Group, 86% of those who receive a great customer experience are likely to return for another purchase. However, the study also found that only 13% of people who had a subpar customer experience would possibly return. In addition to those findings, it was discovered that engaged and satisfied customers are likely to buy 50% more frequently and spend 200% more annually.
Improved Business Performance
The importance of creating great B2B experiences is not just in keeping up with competitors and audiences—but it also has a positive impact on overall company performance. According to data from McKinsey, B2B companies that transformed their customer experience processes saw a 10 to 15% revenue growth, higher client satisfaction scores, improved employee satisfaction and a 10 to 20% reduction in operational costs.
The combination of these benefits means a higher ROI for operations, which, in turn, supports the company as a whole.
Increased Employee Satisfaction and Retention
Customer satisfaction is also directly influenced by employee satisfaction. With more opportunities for employees to find flexible work options that complement their needs, companies can improve customer experience while simultaneously creating better work environments for their staff. Employees who have the tools they need to work efficiently and feel confident about the service they’re providing will naturally offer better customer service. Employers can receive feedback from team members to help create a better company culture and ensure that companies have what they need to retain happy, helpful employees.
What’s Holding Back the B2B Customer Experience?
B2B customer experience has historically underperformed in comparison to its B2C counterparts. While the lack of focus and attention to user satisfaction has played a role, it’s not the only reason that many B2B businesses struggle to meet modern customer expectations.
As discussed in a survey by McKinsey and Company, only 25% of B2B respondents use customer data weekly to better understand customer needs, while 9% don’t use their customer data at all. This can mean that the decisions being made by these businesses could be greatly improved with access to complete, accurate data.. A company could miss out on specific aspects of the customer experience without proper use of customer insights and data from all touchpoints, including customer service and social media. Those key insights can highly influence the overall quality of business interactions, as well as data that can provide a more accurate view of each audience member.
Beyond gathering data to enhance experiences, businesses may not have the capabilities needed to completely control and execute their customer experience strategy. Research by Accenture found that only 21% of B2B companies have total control over their sales partners, who are largely responsible for delivering CX to their audience. If a business is unable to determine how, when, and to whom these experiences are provided, even a well-constructed B2B user interface can result in an unsuccessful experience.
Back-end integration that allows greater and more accurate access to customer data, modern interfaces that offer personalization based on individual needs, and improved delivery systems governing how these interfaces are provided to audience members can dramatically enhance a company’s modern B2B customer experience.
What Elements of B2B Customer Experience Should Leaders Focus On
B2B users are looking for partnerships that meet their needs with efficiency, communication, and innovation. B2B leaders have many avenues to focus on when looking to improve customer experience. Here are three starting points for leaders to work towards:
Seamless buying processes. Like all customers, B2B buyers value their time, which is why customer satisfaction is often associated with effortless processes. It’s important, especially in the B2B marketplace, to make touchpoints as simple as possible. When buyers have difficulty finding a product, completing a transaction, or getting help with a problem, they experience unnecessary frustration. B2B leaders can increase seamlessness by empowering customers to resolve their questions independently, providing simple re-ordering options, suggesting products and services based on historical orders and activity, and integrating all data and systems on one platform.
Shortened response and wait times. In an increasingly digital world, customers are accustomed to receiving answers and resolutions instantly. Companies that are able to deliver what customers need faster, be that answers, products, or services, are on the road to creating truly memorable experiences. By creating a knowledge library, providing an FAQ question through self-service tools, and automating repetitive tasks, your organization will be able to provide customers with what they need quickly without requiring more from your team.
Anticipating issues and customer needs. Leaders can use data and feedback to spot any inefficiencies in processes that lead to buyer inquiries. Another way B2B companies can be proactive is by anticipating customers re-ordering needs and sending an automated product reminder.
Creating Better Digital Experiences with Liferay
Great B2B experiences don’t happen on their own—B2B companies have to take the necessary steps to meet and exceed customer expectations. Liferay offers digital solutions built specifically to address the growing complexities of modern B2B businesses. With great customer journeys being more important now than ever for all business types, it’s the optimal time to implement digital tools to enhance the customer experience.
Ready to build a more satisfied and loyal customer base?
Watch this webinar to learn more about the changing B2B landscape and the long-term benefits of improving B2B customer experiences.