What is the B2B Customer Journey?
The B2B customer journey is the process businesses go through when interacting with other businesses before, during, and after making a purchase. This process includes everything from marketing and sales to customer service and support.
Understanding the customer journey is important because it dictates how businesses interact with customers. Companies can create more effective marketing strategies that cater to customer needs and desires by researching and mapping the customer journey.
Additionally, the customer journey can help businesses identify areas for improvement, such as customer service, sales processes, or product development.
- B2B customer experience
- B2B buyer journey
B2B Customer Journey Stages
The customer journey and customer experience are closely related concepts. The customer journey can be thought of as the customer experience broken into distinct stages. The eight B2B customer journey stages are:
- Use and Expansion
- Loyalty and Retention
For a B2B company, the awareness stage of the customer journey is the very first step a customer takes to become aware of the company’s products or services. During this stage, potential customers are just starting to learn about the available options, and they may need to learn about the potential solutions to their business needs.
To reach potential customers during the awareness stage, companies must create compelling content that catches their attention. This content can be in the form of blog posts, social media posts, videos, webinars, podcasts, or anything else that can help educate customers about what the company offers and how it solves their problems
The consideration stage of the B2B customer journey is a crucial step in the buying process. Businesses must make the right decisions when purchasing products or services for their business operations. There are many factors to consider, such as the quality of the product or service, the price, features, customizability, the company’s reputation, and whether or not the vendor is reliable.
Buyers research during this stage and ask questions to understand the available options. Vendors need to stay in touch with potential customers during the consideration stage, as they may be ready to make a purchase soon. Sending price quotes, product information, and case studies helps buyers make an informed decision.
Businesses don’t make decisions on a whim when purchasing products or services. The decision stage of the B2B customer journey is often one of the most deliberative and time-consuming steps.
Businesses often consult with their colleagues, consultants, or trusted advisors when making a decision. They may watch product demos, visit showrooms, or register for free trials to better understand how the product or service will meet their needs. It’s important to remember that B2B customers are not necessarily looking for the cheapest option – they want the right solution for their business.
When it comes to the purchase stage of the B2B customer journey, there are a few things that need to be considered. First, it’s important to remember this stage is often more complex than the decision stage.
Many factors must be considered, such as budget approval, price negotiations, and contract signing. There are typically more stakeholders involved in a B2B purchase decision, and each one of these stakeholders typically needs to sign off on the purchase before it can go through.
Use and Expansion
The use and expansion stage of the B2B customer journey is when a customer starts to use the product or service, and the vendor works to expand the new customer’s account through cross-selling additional, complementary products. Expansion can also involve the customer using the product or service in new ways or expanding its use to new areas or markets.
During this stage, customers must continue working closely with their suppliers or vendors to customize the solution to meet their business needs. Additionally, vendors must work diligently with customers to implement the solution and onboard new users to ensure they fully utilize it. This helps foster a good relationship that leads to customer retention and loyalty.
The advocacy stage of the B2B customer journey is when customers are vocal and enthusiastic advocates for a company’s products or services. In this customer journey stage, companies hope to convert their customers into lifelong evangelists for their brand.
There are a few key things companies can do to encourage advocacy among their customers:
- Make it easy for customers to share their positive experiences with others online and offline
- Show appreciation for customers who take the time to write positive reviews or testimonials
- Reward customers who refer others to your business
Encouraging customer advocacy can be a valuable way to build trust and loyalty among your customer base, and it can also help attract new customers.
Loyalty and Retention
The loyalty stage of the B2B customer journey is when a customer becomes fully invested in a company’s products or services. Because they trust a company, they are more likely to recommend it to others and continue doing business with it.
While the churn rate is reported to be about 30% globally for businesses, 89% of businesses would purchase from a company again after a good experience.
There are several things vendors can do to foster customer loyalty, such as providing excellent customer service, developing strong relationships with customers, and offering valuable products or services. Customers who feel valued and appreciated will likely stay loyal to a business for years.
The exit stage of the B2B customer journey is the point at which a customer decides to discontinue purchasing the product or service. This stage can be the most crucial for businesses, as it’s essential to ensure that customers feel satisfied with their experience and are willing to return in the future.
There are several things companies can do to achieve this, such as providing quality customer service, offering competitive prices, and ensuring that the buying or renewal process is easy and convenient.
However, when customers do leave, if businesses can ensure that customers have a positive experience during the exit stage; they’ll be more likely to return in the future and may even recommend the company to others.
Creating a B2B Customer Journey Map
Creating a customer journey map is essential to successful business operations. It allows companies to create the right products and focus their marketing efforts on the right customer touchpoints in the journey.
It also helps them create a more effective sales process and engaging buying experience.
What is a Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map is a tool businesses use to visualize the customer’s experience with their company. B2B customer journey maps track all customer interactions with the company, from initial contact to purchase to exit.
The map can be broken down into stages, and each stage can be further broken down into individual steps. This allows businesses to see where there may be potential problems or areas for improvement.
Additionally, customer journey maps can help companies to understand what motivates their customers and how they can better meet their needs.
To build the customer journey map, the marketing department needs to gather data about how customers interact with the company. This data can come from surveys, interviews, focus groups, or analytics data. Then, they can start mapping out the customer journey.
The next step is to analyze the data and look for patterns. For example, what are customers doing at different stages of the journey?
What emotions are they experiencing? What are the pain points? By understanding these things, the company can improve its customer experience and make it easier for them to purchase.
Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping
Customer journey mapping has many benefits, which is why it has become an essential tool for businesses. Some of the key benefits include:
- Improved customer engagement – by understanding the customer’s journey, businesses can identify opportunities to interact with customers at critical points and provide a more engaging experience.
- Improved customer retention – by understanding what motivates customers and what drives them away, businesses can take steps to keep customers loyal and satisfied.
- Improved marketing effectiveness – with knowledge about how customers interact with a company’s marketing materials (and which ones are most effective), the marketing strategy can focus on the channels most likely to result in conversions.
- Improved customer insights – mapping out the customer’s journey helps companies better understand the customers’ needs and desires so they can design better products and services.
4 Types of Customer Journey Maps
The four types of customer journey maps are: linear, circular, hierarchical, and network.
- Linear customer journey maps are the simplest type, depicting a customer’s journey in a straight line. This type is often used for early-stage planning, as it’s easy to see where potential sticking points or bottlenecks may occur.
- Circular customer journey maps are more complex, depicting customers’ journeys as a series of loops. This type is often used for detailed analysis and troubleshooting, as it can help identify where customers are getting stuck in the buying decision process.
- Hierarchical customer journey maps use a tree structure to show how customers move through different stages of the buying process. This map is often used for understanding how different parts of the organization impact the customer experience.
- Network customer journey maps depict the relationships between different customers and touchpoints. This type is often used to understand how different channels work together to create a cohesive customer experience.
Measuring and Analyzing the Customer Journey
Measuring and analyzing the customer journey helps companies form a picture of their ideal customer, and it’s essential to improving the customer experience. There are various ways to measure and analyze the customer journey, including:
- Duration – how long does it take for customers to go from initial engagement to purchase?
- Touchpoints – how many touchpoints do customers go through before making a purchase? What type of touchpoints are most effective?
- Conversion rate – what percentage of customers make a purchase?
- Funnel analysis – can you identify any bottlenecks in the customer journey that are causing conversions to drop off?
There are a variety of methods businesses can use to measure and analyze the customer journey. One way is to track the path customers take on the website using web analytics. This data can help marketing teams understand which pages customers visit, how long they stay on the site, what content they consume, and what actions they take.
Another way to track the customer journey is through surveys. For example, customers can be sent surveys after interacting with the brand or purchasing to get feedback on their experience. Surveys can also help marketers understand why customers chose the company over competitors and what needs they still have that the company could address.
Optimizing the B2B Customer Journey
Businesses can do a few key things to optimize the customer journey to ensure customers have the best possible buying experience and continue to feel supported post-purchase.
- Make sure to have a clear understanding of the ideal customer profile. Who is the brand trying to reach? Knowing the target audience is essential in creating a journey that resonates with them and meets their needs.
- Optimize the company’s website for B2B customers. This means ensuring that the site is easy to navigate and that all the information potential buyers need to help them evaluate their options is easily accessible. For example, make it easy for them to contact a sales rep, request a demo, or view product videos. In addition, if the company offers a free trial, make it easy to register and access the solution in a few clicks.
- Ensure the brand’s marketing materials are consistent and create a cohesive customer experience. This includes everything from website copy to email marketing campaigns.
- Track how customers interact with the brand throughout their journey. Use analytics tools to track how many people visit the site, what pages they spend the most time on, where people drop off in the buying process, and so on. This data can help the company fine-tune the customer journey to meet customers’ needs.
Technology to Improve the B2B Customer Journey
Technology constantly evolves, and businesses continually look for ways to improve their customer journey. One way businesses do this is by using technology to improve the buying experience, sales process, and customer support. There are several different technologies that businesses can use to improve their customer journey, including:
- Artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence can be used to create a more personalized customer experience. It can also be used to help businesses understand customer needs and preferences and to recommend products or services accordingly.
- Chatbots: Chatbots can provide instant customer support and assistance. They can also be used to gather information about customers’ needs and to suggest next steps in the buying journey.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems: CRM systems can track customer interactions and history. This information can then be used to personalize future interactions with customers and provide them with better recommendations.
- Mobile apps: Mobile apps can provide customers with easy access to the products or services they need. They can also be used to provide customers with location-based information about nearby stores or restaurants, or about special offers or discounts.
- Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software: CPQ software is a valuable tool for improving the customer journey. By automating the quote-creation process, CPQ software makes it easier for customers to get correct product configurations and accurate pricing.
This can save time and frustration for customers and makes it more likely that they will complete a purchase. Additionally, CPQ software can help businesses track customer interactions and preferences, which can help sales teams provide better service and boost conversions.
Overall, CPQ is an essential tool for improving the customer journey for B2B companies.
- Digital sales rooms: When making purchase decisions, businesses rely on online tools and platforms to help them make the most informed decision possible.
Among these tools is the digital sales room, such as DealRoom, which allows customers to explore a company’s products and services in detail.
By providing a variety of information including images, videos and product specs, a digital sales room gives customers all the information they need to make an informed purchase decision.
This is especially important for B2B customers, who often need to compare different products and services before making a purchase.
Using a digital sales room, B2B customers can quickly compare different offerings and find the one that best meets their needs. This can save time and money, and help businesses make the most of their budget.
- Customer engagement: Software that helps identify “at-risk” customers and take action before they’re lost forever can help improve customer retention.
These platforms also provide automated emails and marketing campaigns to re-engage customers who have been inactive for a certain period of time.
People Also Ask
What are the 5 main points of a customer journey?
A customer journey is the total of all the interactions a customer has with a business, from when they first learn about the company to when they make a purchase or become a repeat customer. Although we explored eight stages above, there are five main points in a customer journey: awareness, interest, evaluation, purchase, and loyalty.
1. Awareness: The first step in the customer journey is awareness, where the customer learns about the company and what it does. This can be through advertising, word-of-mouth, or search engines.
2. Interest: Once the customer is aware of the company, they may develop some interest in it by learning about its products or services, reading reviews, or watching videos.
3. Evaluation: After gaining interest in a company, customers will evaluate whether it’s the right fit. This step includes looking at prices, comparing options, and reading reviews.
4. Purchase: Finally, once the customer has decided that the company is right for them, they will purchase. This could be through buying a product online, calling to book a service appointment, or visiting a store.
5. Loyalty: After making a purchase, some customers will become loyal to the company and continue to use its products and services over time. This can be due to positive experiences with the company or because they find it difficult to switch to another provider.
How do I create a customer journey map for B2B?
A customer journey map is a great way to get an overview of the customer experience from beginning to end. To create a customer journey map for B2B, you’ll need to gather information about your customers’ needs and wants and interactions with your company. You can collect this information through interviews, surveys, and focus groups.
Once you have gathered all of the information, it’s time to start creating the map. The first step is to create a basic outline of the customer journey, including the different stages the customer goes through. Next, you’ll need to fill in the details of each stage, including the emotions and needs associated with it. Finally, you’ll need to identify any friction points or improvement opportunities.
What is the difference between the customer journey and the buyer journey?
The terms buyer journey and customer journey are often used interchangeably when thinking about the sales cycle, but there is a difference. The buyer journey is the beginning of the customer journey; it’s the sales-focused stage of customers’ interaction with a brand.
After a customer purchases a good or service, building loyalty and encouraging brand advocacy starts, and the support, growth, and expansion stages complete the customer journey.