More than half of consumers across the U.S., Europe and Canada say company websites and e-mail remain their go-to channels — a sign one CMO Council exec says the “arrogance” of B2B marketers must come to an end.
In The Customer In Context: Understanding The Real Expectations of Today’s Connected Consumer, the CMO Council and SAP Hybris explore all the different ways consumers engage with a brand, as well as how they rate the degree of personalization and speedy response they typically experience. This includes websites, which were cited by 58 per cent of those polled, followed by e-mail at 52 percent and phone calls at 46 percent.
While 38 per cent of respondents said brands are “getting there and know me better today than before,” the survey suggested mismanaging marketing channels or failing to invest in them could be costly. If they experience common frustrations such as not being treated like loyal customers (cited by 36 per cent of respondents) or deal with slow service from reps who don’t recognize them (33 per cent), they’re not afraid to walk. In fact, 47 per cent of customers said they would stop doing business with a brand that continues to frustrate them, and 45 per cent said they would spend their money with another brand.
Liz Miller, senior vice-president of marketing and programs for the CMO Council, said the survey findings should resonate well beyond B2C marketers, given consumers bring the same expectations with them into their professional lives. In fact, she said the traditional boundary between B2C and B2B is “gone” when it comes to customer experiences.
“Our stock and trade has been to take the most blisteringly boring content and create engagement. We’ve been ‘the silent sales enablement engine that could’ for a very long time. We had gotten into a pattern of being very content-rich and experience-poor,” she explained. “We could say, ‘I know all 100 of our potential customers and I can send them this whitepaper. They don’t care what the website is going to look like.”
Now, especially as that customer has gotten younger with Millennials getting jobs in B2B space, “they don’t have that level of forgiveness,” Miller said. “They are like the ultimate luxury shopper. They’re not just buying Coca-Cola for a dollar, and they expect the value to match what they’re spending.”
According to the survey data, “value” translates into “something that saves me money,” which was cited by 77 per cent, “something that saves me time” (49 per cent) or “makes my life easier (47 per cent).
Of course, marketers can’t offer context and personalization without gathering more data, and 70 per cent of respondents said they were willing to share “some degree” of data with brands. In fact, 22 per cent stipulated that they expected to see personalization in return for offering data.
Miller said the tools are already available to do this work, but marketers also need to ensure the proper processes are in place to make managing experiences across channels consistent and effective.
“They don’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles to be laid out in front of them. They’re asking for a well-designed website, a phone number to call, but the subtlety of what happens in that channel that means all the difference in the world,” she said. “If they say they need a phone number, they’re saying they also need someone who answers that phone, who knows a bit about me, knows about my experiences and my engagement and doesn’t treat me like a stranger.”
Consumers surveyed were also realistic, though: only 12 per cent said it was critical brands recognize their history at every single marketing touchpoint. The full survey report is available for download now.