Anyone who has been involved in a B2B sale knows how complicated and frustrating the entire process can be. In fact, CEB asked thousands of senior executives at companies around the world to describe the purchase process in one word. The results were things like “hard”, “awful”, “painful”, and “minefield”.
There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement in B2B customer experience, especially when considering that new entrants into B2B are using customer experience to differentiate themselves. This should be a huge wake-up call to existing B2B brands that the customer experience system is broken and needs to be fixed with more attention and personalization.
In order to build a compelling B2B customer experience, companies need to be aware of the customer journey. The vast majority of B2B buyers do research online before they contact a company and are 57% of the way through the marketing funnel before they talk to a sales rep. With that in mind, B2B companies should have good marketing funnels and strong web experiences.
An ideal customer journey is simple, intuitive, personalized, and flexible. It allows B2B buyers to easily navigate from product searches through the purchasing process and beyond to aftermarket sales and service. B2B companies with the best customer experience do much of the legwork for their customers and provide proactive experiences, especially on their websites.
You must invest in becoming an experience-led business, which means optimizing every customer touch point. Anticipate customers’ needs and think ahead to what they will want in the future. By understanding the customer journey, B2B companies can stay a step ahead of the customer to lead them on the path for a great experience and quality product or service.
For example, Netherlands-based bank ING created a solution for its retail and corporate clients that enabled customers to access real-time account overviews and process various transactions from any location. ING used omnichannel automatic integration of customer data to improve its system and processes and leveraged data to improve the services offered to the customer. Its efforts paid off—after just one year, ING grew profits by 23% and increased its share price by 15%.
Becoming an experience-led business helps increase profits, and it doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Start with what you have by taking advantage of existing data and KPIs. Follow the principles of design thinking to draw on logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning to explore possibilities of what could be, and then create the desired outcomes to benefit the customer.
Building a compelling B2B customer journey starts with knowing the customer and how they research and make purchases, and then providing personalized service and a great experience through their journey. All B2B companies should focus on being experience-led businesses to avoid sales processes that are frustrating and painful for everyone involved. A great customer journey will turn a previously frustrating sale into one that is simple and enjoyable.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author of More Is More, and keynote speaker. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here. Go farther and create knock your socks-off customer experiences in your organization by enrolling in her new Customer Experience School.