If you're a regular here on The Business Growth Insider, it should be no surprise to you when we say, "people remember not what you say the most, but how you make them feel."
That statement holds just as much truth in B2B business as it does in life outside of business.
And, the way that you make people feel the best in business is by giving them the most memorable customer experience, particularly during the sales process.
More specifically, the way you make the most positive and memorable impression in B2B business is by giving your B2B buyers the best customer experience possible, both before and after the sale is made.
Having an amazing customer experience is not just an added bonus to the sales cycle, but a competitive advantage in itself. It enables you to close more deals in less time!
You can have a great product or service with it's own unique value, but adding an amazing layer of customer experience puts things over the top.
Not only that, but excellent customer experience is often the factor that pushes prospects to make a purchasing decision in your favor, and ensures future customer loyalty.
On the flip side, you can have a great product or service, but if your B2B customers have a crummy customer experience, the odds that they turn to you for their solution are pretty low.
Moreover, turn your sales process into a memorable experience in order to get maximum customer satisfaction and make more sales in less time!
What is B2B Customer Experience?
The central tenant of the B2B customer experience is the relationship between the client/customer company and supplier company.
And, a relationship is the accumulation of all of the interactions between the two companies throughout their journey together.
From the first point of contact to the point where the relationship ends, every interaction that conspires makes up their journey together.
Some might say that the customer experience doesn't begin until after the B2B client makes a purchase from the supplier company.
However, they would be wrong to think so, because the customer journey (aka prospect journey) prior to the purchase can significantly impact how the client interacts with the supplier after they do end up making the purchase!
Interactions can take place through lines of direct communication like email and phone, but also through indirect channels, such as your company's website or social media.
No matter how small or brief the interaction is… it matters, and can significantly contribute to the overall customer experience.
With that said, every single time your B2B client company interacts with your supplier company in any way, shape, or form, affects their relationship with you. Therefore, every single interaction goes on to affect their customer experience!
Additionally, it’s super important to keep in mind that interactions between two parties are more than just the words exchanged. Interactions are oftentimes less about what you say, but how you say it.
Moreover, it’s crucial to keep in mind that interactions are more than just an exchange in words between two parties, but also an exchange of emotions and feelings!
Therefore, the way that you improve the customer experience is to improve your client's relationship with you, by making sure that all of the ways that you interact with one another are clear, concise, and fulfilling (just to name a few necessary traits!).
What is the best way to know whether or not you are creating a great customer experience for your clients and prospective clients?
Just ask yourself whether or not you would be happy to do the deal in their shoes!
How Important is Customer Experience in B2B Relationships?
In short: The B2B customer experience is almost EVERYTHING to the B2B relationship!
The customer experience and relationship are tied together, and can't be separated, because the customer experience itself is what creates and influences a majority of the business relationship.
Moreover, there can be no solid relationship without the customer experience first being solid! When you can serve the customer up with an amazing experience, they will reciprocate your favor by sticking with you for the long run.
The best thing about being in the business-to-business world is that salespeople often spend years in relationships with clients. Not only are those long-term relationships great for the client, but also for you, the supplier company!
What makes having long-term relationships so valuable?
Having solid long-term relationships with clients is beneficial for several reasons, including:
- Generating referrals
- Creating strong customer retention rates
- Having easier-going customer relationships
In many ways, having great relationships in the B2B sales world is like insurance for your company: The better your relationships are, the more stable business you can expect in the future.
If you want to reap the benefits of having great B2B customer relationships, then get started on creating an amazing customer experience. It is perhaps the most important aspect of forming lasting, long-term business relationships!
Here is How You Build a Good B2B Customer Experience
As we mentioned above, interactions between two B2B businesses is about more than just what conspires between the two, but how it is done.
Always keep in mind that the how aspect impacts the way that the customer feels more than the what aspect!
And, both your prospective and existing customer base are more likely to remember how you make them feel rather than what you do or say.
Therefore, when crafting the perfect customer experience, do what is necessary to make the client feel good. The best place to start it with these 6 strategies!
Know Who Your Ideal Customer Is
The first step in creating a good experience for your customer comes before you even come into contact with them.
If you want to give your customers a great experience, then you have to know who they are. And, you should start that process of getting to know them before you even think about making a cold call or email!
To put things simply: Do your research on your prospects before reaching out!
Get to know them before you get to know them! In particular, consider what your ideal customers want and what their pain points are.
One of the best things that you can do to get to know your ideal customers better is to draw out who they are. Consider their demographics and psychographics, pain points, and true desires to paint a realistic picture of who they are.
How do you know when you have a clear enough picture of your ideal target prospect?
When you can explain them to somebody outside of your sales team, and they can firmly visualize who your ideal client is!
However, be sure that you aren't crossing the line of gathering facts about your prospects to making assumptions about them! The moment you start making assumptions about your prospects that aren't rooted in fact is the point at which they start to turn away from you.
When you understand who your clients are, you will be able to provide them with more tailored customer support that fits their needs!
Make the Customer’s Life as Easy as Possible
Put yourself in the shoes of your B2B prospects.
Imagine that you are them. What kind of challenges are they going through?
Probably many of the same ones as you, particularly:
- Being short on time
- Being short on time
- Being short on time
Perhaps the most pervasive problem in business and in life is not having enough time to get everything that needs to be accomplished in a day accomplished.
With that said, your goal with customer experience management is to make your sales process as easy on your prospects as possible!
Specifically, your goal should be to make things as un-complicated as possible in order to preserve as much of your client's time as you can.
We've said it once and we will say it again: Most sales teams overcomplicate the heck out of their sales processes! Not only does that make their sales tactics less effective, but it eats up precious time and makes the prospect's life more difficult.
Therefore, when crafting your entire sales strategy, do what you can to make it as easy on your prospects as possible!
You know that they already have a lot on their plate, so the best thing that you can do is make their life easier by not adding much more to it.
Be straightforward, and only say and do what is necessary to help them reach their purchasing decision. Anything beyond that will just make their life more difficult and decrease the odds that you make the sale.
A good customer experience is one that is easy on the prospects. The less time and energy they have to invest, the better!
Perhaps the best way to start making the life of the prospect easier and closing more deals is by taking control of the sales process!
Say Exactly What You Know
Almost every salesperson has been there before: You are nearing the end of the sales cycle, right before the deal is about to be made. You fully understand what the prospect needs to solve their problem, and you know with full confidence that you have the right solution.
But, you hold back from saying what you actually know. Instead of telling the truth, you tell the prospect what you think they want to hear out of fear of tripping them up or losing the sale.
Moreover, you believe that it's better to tell them what they want to hear instead of telling them what you know that they need to hear.
Straight-up: If you know the truth about what a customer needs and don't tell it to them, what are your true intentions? Are you in this solely for yourself? Or, are you in this because you want to make both your life AND your prospect's life better?
If you don't tell your prospect what you know they need to hear, you not only are being selfish, but you are actually hurting their experience.
When you know what your prospect needs to hear, you must say it! Even if you think it's not what they want to hear at that moment.
Never fear what your prospect will say in response to the truth.
While the truth might sting them at first, they will come around to appreciate you for being straight-up with them. Down the line, they will see that you genuinely wanted to help them, which will put their customer experience over the top.
B2B organizations need solutions! If you know you have the solution, don't let the fear of disappointing them in the moment stand in the way of you giving them the truth.
In the end, their experience with you will end up being more positive than if you told them what you think they wanted to hear.
Be Consistent and Attentive With Communication
How many times have you dialed the customer service line of one of your B2B suppliers only to hang up the phone several minutes (or even worse, hours) later without getting the help you needed?
Was it because you never made it through the automated robot voices? Or, because the person on the other end didn't know how to help you?
Regardless of the reason, customer experience can be completely shattered if your B2B company client has a difficult time communicating with you.
You and your sales team must make a concerted effort to make the lines of communication as smooth as possible by being consistent and attentive.
What are the best ways to be both consistent and attentive? By doing these three things:
- Setting a single primary touchpoint of communication for serious matters
- Creating an omnichannel experience
- Setting particular milestone meeting times in advance
First off, B2B businesses that work together should have large scale communication between multiple parties on both sides. But, there should be a primary touchpoint of communication between the two.
Usually, that touchpoint is the account manager at the supplier company and primary decision-maker at the client company.
Having that single person to communicate with makes it easy on the client when they have a concern that needs to be addressed in a short period of time.
Second, you should give your prospects and clients an omnichannel experience with you. Being omnichannel is to have several different means of communicating with clients and prospects.
For example, businesses in this day in age should connect with their clients and prospects at a minimum over phone, email, and LinkedIn.
Also, it's equally important that your company has a seamless website that is easy to interact with on both a mobile phone and computer. The goal with your website should be to create a simple user experience that makes it easy for potential and existing clients to get in touch with you.
Even better, add self-service features to your website so that clients and prospects don't even need to call or email you to have their question answered!
Lastly, while you should have casual real-time contact with your prospects, make it a point to set up regular formal meetings with them.
For example, set up a regular monthly meeting on a specific time and date. This adds formality to the relationship and gives the client assurance that your lines of communication are strong.
Communication is a broad topic to cover! In the end, the most important traits of communication are consistency and attentiveness... if you can find ways to be both of those things, then your customer’s communication expectations should be not just fulfilled, but put over the top.
Strike an Automation Balance
Are you tired of opening your inbox everyday and seeing countless automated emails from your suppliers that serve literally zero purpose in your life?
If that's you, then why would you ever spam your own B2B clients with the same kind of endless junk?
Part of creating a positive customer experience is about what you don't do.
Specifically, part of creating the best experience is about not automating the heck out of your B2B marketing and sales content so much so that your clients and prospects are overwhelmed with virtual spam.
While you should aim to churn out regular automated marketing content, overdoing it makes people want to tune you out.
Therefore, your goal should be to strike an automated content balance. You want to provide your clients and prospects with only what they need and nothing of what they don't need!
If you use a CRM system such as Salesforce, be very careful about overdoing it with your automated content!
Just because your metrics and customer data tells you that you are reaching high levels of engagement doesn't necessarily tell you the whole story! People might be opening up your automated content, but that doesn't also mean it's making their perception of you any better.
With that said, don't always fall victim to new technologies related to sales and marketing! If you do, the odds that you over-automate content and annoy your clients increases significantly!
More does not always equal better.
Don't create an excellent customer experience just to ruin it by automating the heck out of your marketing and spamming your clients!
Create a Customer-Centric Culture
In order to create the best customer experience for your B2B company clients, your entire sales team needs to be on board. Everyone's mindset should be on creating the best customer journey for each and every prospect.
The way to do that is to foster a customer-centric culture. By customer-centric, the company culture should be all about putting the customer at the center of everything!
Because, when the customer's needs are front and center, everyone's interests get fulfilled in the end. Even better, long-term customer loyalty gets secured.
How do you create a culture centered around satisfying customer expectations AND getting more closed deals? Start here by training your sales reps on how to do the following:
- Properly taking and responding to customer feedback
- Honing in on listening skills to identify pain points
- Creating a realistic customer journey map
Developing a strong customer experience falls on the shoulders of every person in your company! Does your sales team have what it takes to create an idyllic experience and close deals?
Final Thoughts on How to Improve B2B Customer Experience
Your B2B customer's experience with your company can be the make or break factor in their loyalty to you for potentially years down the road.
You can have the most amazing product or service in the world, but if you can't serve it up in a positive experience, then your deliverable will certainly go to waste.
Always remember that your business is more than just its deliverable! Take your customers on an experiential journey to close more deals in less time AND build relationships that will last for many years to come!