In business-to-business (B2B) markets, the customer experience is the way a company makes its customers feel when they interact with its products, services, and brand.
A positive B2B customer experience can lead to increased sales, higher customer retention rates, and improved brand loyalty.
Creating a great B2B customer experience requires an understanding of what customers want and need, and the ability to deliver it consistently at every touchpoint.
What Is B2B Customer Experience?
B2B buyers have unique needs—they are usually looking for products or services that will help them improve their own businesses, rather than for personal consumption. And because they are making decisions on behalf of their companies, they often have to balance the needs of multiple stakeholders.
As a result, the B2B customer experience is all about delivering the right mix of value, convenience, and service at every interaction, whether it’s online, on the phone, or in person. That way, buyers can make informed decisions and turn into loyal customers.
A positive B2B customer experience can lead to:
- Increased Sales: Customers who have a positive experience with a company are more likely to buy from that company again. And they’re also more likely to recommend the company to others. Both of these benefits promote revenue growth for the company.
- Higher Customer Retention Rates: Customers who have a good experience with a company are more likely to stick with that company and show higher customer satisfaction rates, even when there are other options available.
- Improved Brand Loyalty: When customers have a positive experience with a brand, they’re more likely to remain loyal to that brand over time.
- More Qualified Leads and Customers: The buying decision process involves a lot of research and comparison shopping. If a company can provide a great customer experience, the right buyers will make purchase decisions in their favor
- B2B CX: An abbreviation for “B2B customer experience,” CX is the way a company makes its customers feel when they interact with its products, services, and brand.
- B2B Customer Journey: The steps a customer takes—from first becoming aware of a company’s products or services to becoming a loyal repeat customer.
- B2B Buying Experience: The way a customer feels when making a purchase from a company, including the quality of customer service, convenience, and value.
Importance of B2B Customer Experience
From the moment a company first shows up in a potential customer’s search results, the customer experience starts to take shape. And every interaction that follows—from the company’s website and social media presence to sales calls and post-purchase follow-up—can either improve or damage the relationship.
When customers receive a personalized experience, they are 20-40 percent more likely to make a purchase. And since the vast majority (80%) of B2B buyers expect the same level of personalization that B2C companies offer, it’s clear that the customer experience is critical.
A good customer experience also benefits the business’s bottom line from a customer service standpoint—operational costs are reduced by 10-20 percent when customers can easily find answers and solutions independently without needing to contact customer service.
Top B2B Customer Experience Trends
As the customer experience landscape changes, so do B2B customer expectations. To stay ahead of the curve and deliver the best possible customer experience, companies need to be aware of the latest trends.
Here are a few of the top B2B customer experience trends.
Apply B2C Concepts
B2C customer service is characterized by its focus on convenience, personalization, and customer happiness. And more and more, B2B buyers are coming to expect the same level of service.
To meet these expectations, B2B companies need to start applying some of the same concepts that have made B2C customer experience so successful. This includes things like self-service portals, live chat, and customer loyalty programs.
Because potential customers are constantly being marketed to, personalization is key if you want your company to be noticed. This is especially important in the world of B2B marketing.
To personalize the experience, companies need to collect customer insights and use them to tailor the experience to each individual. This could include things like personalized product recommendations, quotes, and sales proposals.
Software like CPQ (configure, price, quote) and DealRoom can help companies automate the process of curating, drafting, and sending proposals, making it easier to deliver a personalized experience.
Visualization (mention visual CPQ systems)
Many B2B buyers—and people in general—are visual learners. Since the majority of people are more responsive to visual information than text, it’s important for B2B companies to incorporate visuals into the customer experience.
One way to do this is with CPQ software that includes a visual component. Visual CPQ systems make it easy for buyers to see what they’re buying and how it will fit into their existing systems and processes. This helps to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings down the line.
Another way to add visuals into the customer experience is with product configurators. These tools allow buyers to customize products and see a real-time preview of their choices. This helps to ensure that they’re getting exactly what they want and reduces the risk of returns or exchanges.
By meeting customers on the digital channels they prefer and making it easy for them to find the information they need, companies can make the customer experience more convenient.
This could include things like live chat, self-service knowledge bases, and chatbots. These tools allow customers to get answers to their questions without needing to contact customer service—saving them time and frustration.
Customer Journey Analytics
Collecting customer data involves more than just tracking website analytics. To get a complete picture of the customer experience, companies need to track the customer journey from start to finish.
This data can then be used to identify areas where the customer experience can be improved. For example, if a high percentage of customers abandon their shopping carts at the checkout page, it could be an indication that the checkout process is too long or complex.
By using customer journey analytics, companies can identify and fix problem areas, making it easier for customers to complete their purchase—and resulting in more sales.
Best Practices for an Excellent B2B Customer Experience
Let’s take a look at some best practices for delivering an excellent B2B customer experience.
Know Your Customers’ Pain Points
Pain points are areas of the customer experience that cause frustration or inconvenience. And they can vary depending on the customer.
To deliver an excellent customer experience, companies need to identify and address their customers’ pain points. This could involve things like streamlining the checkout process, making it easier to find product information, or providing more personalized service through live chat software or a customer loyalty program.
Focus on Customer Outcomes
Outcome-based thinking is a customer-centric approach that focuses on the results or outcomes that customers want to achieve.
In other words, it’s not about what companies want to sell—it’s about what customers want to buy.
By focusing on customer outcomes, companies can create a more relevant and valuable experience for buyers.
A few ideas:
- Include a knowledge base on your website with articles that focus on solving common customer problems.
- Use live chat software to provide real-time assistance and guidance.
- Include a chatbot that makes personalized recommendations and helps customers find the right products.
Time kills all deals, and that’s especially true in the world of B2B sales.
When buyers reach out with questions or concerns, they expect a quick response. If they don’t get one, they’ll move on to a competitor.
To meet customer expectations, companies need to have a system in place for quickly responding to inquiries. Chatbots are good for handling initial inquiries, but they aren’t always able to provide a human touch.
For that, companies need to have a team of customer service representatives who are trained to handle complex inquiries quickly and efficiently.
Deliver a Personalized Buying Experience
Without personalization, the customer experience can feel cold and impersonal.
But with personalization, companies can make customers feel valued and special—like they’re the only ones that matter.
- There are a few ways to personalize the buying experience, such as:
- Using live chat software to provide one-on-one assistance
- Storing customer data and using it to make product recommendations
- Offering loyalty programs or discounts for repeat customers
- Sending post-purchase or sign-up thank-you notes
- Including a personal message with each purchase or monthly invoice
Support Implementation and Adoption
Integrating new software into a company’s tech stack is labor-intensive and requires a lot of training. That’s why helping new customers with implementation and adoption is so important.
When done right, it can result in long-term customers who are happy with the product—and more likely to recommend it to others.
To support implementation and adoption, companies can:
- Create how-to guides, video tutorials, and other resources that show customers how to use the product
- Offer live training sessions or webinars
- Provide customer success managers who can help with onboarding and answer questions
Similar to implementation support, post-purchase support is key to ensuring that customers are happy with their purchase. Offering money-back guarantees, dedicated account managers, and 24/7 customer service are all good ways to show customers that you’re committed to their success.
Measure and Improve
Tracking metrics like customer satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and customer effort score (CES) can help companies identify areas where the customer experience needs improvement.
But tracking metrics is only half the battle—companies also need to take action to improve the customer experience. This could involve making changes to the website, streamlining the purchase process, or increasing the frequency of customer check-ins.
B2B Customer Experience Challenges
B2B CX isn’t without its challenges—there are a few common issues that companies need to be aware of.
Especially at the enterprise level, data silos are a major issue. Companies collect data from various sources, but it’s often stored in different departments or systems. This makes it difficult to get a holistic view of the customer.
Data silos need to be broken down so that companies can have a 360-degree view of the customer. This will require a significant investment in data management and analysis.
Companies that sell complicated products or services often struggle to provide a good customer experience. That’s because it can be difficult to explain the product in layman’s terms, and customers may need more hand-holding during the purchase process.
To overcome this challenge, companies need to invest in sales and customer success training. They also need to create detailed resources (e.g., sales playbooks) that explain the product and the buying process.
If a company has a complex pricing model, it can be difficult to provide a good customer experience. Customers may not understand the pricing, or they may feel like they’re being charged too much.
Being transparent about pricing early on in the sales process can help to prevent misunderstandings. Companies may even need to reevaluate their pricing strategy to make it simpler and more transparent.
Since there are so many channels (e.g., phone, email, live chat, social media) that customers can use to interact with companies, it can be difficult to provide a consistent experience across all channels.
Omnichannel communication needs to be streamlined by using a customer relationship management (CRM) system. This will help to ensure that all interactions are tracked and that the customer experience is consistent, no matter which channel is used.
Using Technology to Improve the B2B Customer Experience
CRM software works wonders for streamlining the sales process and improving customer relationships. It can be used to track interactions, manage leads, and close deals. It also speeds up the sales cycle by automating tasks like email marketing and lead generation.
Configure, price, quote software is a must-have for companies that sell complex products. CPQ takes the guesswork out of pricing by allowing companies to quickly configure and quote products based on the customer’s needs.
Digital Sales Rooms (DealRoom)
Digital sales rooms like DealRoom help companies to streamline the sales process by providing a central place for all sales-related communication. When stakeholders and buyers can access all the information they need in one place, it makes it easier to close deals and improve the customer experience.
One of the fastest and easiest ways to make the process of closing deals more efficient is to use eSignature software. It is convenient, legally binding, and allows buyers to complete forms in minutes.
People Also Ask
How important is customer experience in B2B?
Customer experience is just as important in B2B as it is in B2C. And since B2B sales are usually more complex and relationship-focused than B2C sales, ensuring a good customer experience is even more crucial. Since most B2B buyers expect a high level of convenience and personalization, selling to the modern B2B buyer requires a customer-centric approach.
What is the difference between B2B and B2C customer experience?
The main difference between B2B and B2C customer experience is that B2B companies are focused primarily on helping businesses rather than individuals. As such, the customer experience needs to be designed with businesses in mind. This means that the focus should be on creating efficiencies and simplifying processes rather than just on providing a fun and enjoyable experience.
What are the six measures of customer experience?
There are six measures of customer experience that are recognized worldwide:
1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
3. Customer Effort Score (CES)
4. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
5. Retention Rate
6. Churn Rate
How do B2B companies measure customer experience?
There are several ways that B2B companies can measure customer experience, including Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Customer Effort Score (CES), Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), Retention Rate, and Churn Rate. These scores are all important in different ways and can help companies to identify areas where they need to improve.