Just like companies in the B2C space, B2B companies rely on satisfied, loyal customers who make repeat purchases. Providing an exceptional customer experience is critical to gaining and keeping customers. In a survey of over 300 B2B buyers and end users, three-fourths of respondents said that customer experience was a major factor in making buying decisions.
To provide an excellent customer experience in B2B, you need to commit to putting the customer at the core of what the company does, how it does it, and, ultimately, why it does it. That kind of commitment supports the development of a truly customer centric culture. Here are five ways to ensure customer experience excellence in your organization.
Responsiveness and Timeliness
In the digital age of immediate gratification for many purchases, buyers expect timeliness rather than red tape, regardless of whether they are buying for personal or professional purposes. B2B companies that develop new, more efficient ways to meet ever-changing customer expectations stand to benefit from providing an overall more positive buying experience. For example, one lending company transformed the business loan application process from one that takes weeks or months to a streamlined process that takes just seven minutes. Of course, there are instances where a drastic change in process isn’t possible, and certain steps must still be followed. To identify process efficiencies, it’s always a good idea to involve employees in process updates so that they are active participants and can see their role in improving the customer experience.
A Proactive Approach
Sometimes customers have an unmet need that hasn’t been articulated or hasn’t yet developed into a full-blown problem. When you take a proactive approach, you’re improving the customer’s overall experience by solving an issue before it becomes a real problem. There’s a wealth of information available on the internet, and business buyers can be proactive in doing their own research before ever speaking to a potential service provider. As a result, you can provide customers with a better experience by also being proactive and offering new insights, research, or other information before they have to go looking for it themselves. Doing so will also help to deepen customer relationships. One study found that B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a provider who offers new insights about their business than one who doesn’t.
One-size-fits-all solutions often do not work for B2B customers because every situation, challenge, and goal is unique to their business. As a result, customers require a unique solution that is tailor-made to fit them. To ensure an exceptional, personalized experience, you can engage in the following activities:
Understand the customer’s journey by mapping it
Collect feedback from the customer—for example, via surveys and Net Promoter Scores
Develop and track metrics that demonstrate customer loyalty, such as year-over-year revenue retention or number of customer referrals
Accountability and Trust
A positive customer experience is more likely to occur when you act as a trusted partner rather than merely a salesperson. A study by TrustRadius found that B2B buyers are twice as likely to be influenced by service providers and vendors they believe are trustworthy. Trust must be built over time and is strengthened by consistently delivering on customer expectations. Just as individuals must be accountable to each other within the organization, the same goes for being accountable to customers, delivering what was promised, and acting with integrity. Customer loyalty can’t be won by failing to offer the full picture about what a product or service can deliver. Rather, being transparent and delivering on promises will allow organizations to build a relationship of trust with customers.
A Customer Centric Culture
To ensure an excellent customer experience, there needs to be a culture in which individuals see everything they do through the lens of the customer. In a customer centric culture, everyone, not just customer-facing employees, recognizes that their actions impact the customer experience. For example, employees in the finance department whose billing turnaround time is slowed by internal processes can negatively impact the customer’s experience at that point in their journey.
To achieve a customer centric culture, there must be a shift in both employee mindset and skill set. Everyone must not only understand why the customer needs to be at the heart of what they do, but also possess the know-how to support customer centricity. Customer centricity training is a great way to help individuals develop the ability to:
- See the business through the eyes of the customer
- Accept personal responsibility for customer outcomes
- Take action and make decisions that positively impact the customer experience
When the customer is at the heart of every decision and individuals within the organization have the necessary skills to support a customer centric culture, the result will be a proactive approach to customer service excellence at every level of the company.