Customer experience has remained one of the most crucial factors in retaining the existing clients. The customer pool for B2B businesses is smaller when compared to B2C businesses. For B2B businesses, it is extremely important to hold on to the current customers as losing even a single customer due to poor customer service can be disastrous.
According to McKinsey, “B2C companies have an average score of the 65 to 85 percent range when it comes to customer service, while B2B companies average less than 50 percent. This gap is set to rise even further as B2B customer expectations rise”.
Here are some questions that you need to ask yourself before I suggest what is needed to improve your overall customer experience.
- Is your product solving major pain points of the customer?
- Do you regularly take surveys and understand the behavior patterns of your prospects?
- Are you thinking about the overall mobile micro moments that your prospects are following?
- Do you ever felt the need to centralize your data?
- Do you follow a proper communication channel to connect with your customers?
- Do you know how your prospects actually make choices?
- Is your brand seen when your prospects need you?
- Do you have the right support staff, and how open are they to change?
- Have you ever felt the need to educate your customers?
If you don’t have proper answers to the above questions then you are not properly optimizing the overall customer experience that will ultimately lead to customer loss.
1- Customer Service Should Be the First Phase of the Customer Lifecycle
The old thinking of accepting customer service as the final phase of the customer journey should be dropped. For B2B businesses, customer service is the most important element of the overall customer strategy.
Accenture’s analysis on customer support for B2B businesses revealed 3 different groups that play a major role in delivering customer experiences:
- Execution Heros – This group of customer support employs all the possible initiatives in order to boost performance. However, they lack a sound strategy to keep the customer’s experience satisfying.
- Strategy Standouts – This group is aware of all the experiences that they want the customers to have but they lack the level of skills required to implement them.
- Average Achievers – This group has some of all the abilities discussed in the above two groups but they fail to set themselves apart.
The key takeaway here is that your organization should take proper steps in building a customer support team that understands what needs to be executed and how it needs to be executed.
2- Content Marketing Holds the Key
We are living in a digital age and people are busy looking for businesses, finding solutions to business pain points, expanding their knowledge about a product or service etc. It is critical to remain present before your prospects during all the micro moments that happen during the customer purchase cycle.
Content is the key that gets your business in front of your business prospects. SEO friendly content that follows all the essentials of On Page SEO has the power to enhance brand visibility and bring in relevant traffic. Content conversions that happen between the different stages of a sale are the most important metrics that any business should measure for a complete performance review of the end-to-end customer experience.
3- Hire the Right Support Staff and Strengthen Their Customer Service Skills
Hire staff that can adapt and clearly communicate with your existing clientele. Providing excellent support service involves regular learning so your staff must be open to change. This is perhaps the most difficult part, as staff are often resistant to change. You can overcome this resistance by making them feel comfortable in every stage of learning. This post from People HR describes the ways to overcome employees who are resistant to change.
Here are some ways to strengthen the skills of your B2B customer support team:
- Enable your staff to practice active listening. The customers should feel that they are being heard.
- Ask your staff to assist with social media, and write proper responses to customers who have posted on the business page.
- Ask them to adopt a clear communication strategy and keep the customer’s happiness in mind.
- Ensure that your staff have full knowledge of the product or service that you are selling.
- Provide timely training to all support staff. Obviously, the training should be compulsory for everyone, else the issue won’t get resolved.
- Ask the staff to follow up with the customer after the problem is solved, as this will allow the customer to feel that they are being cared for.
4- Reduce Customer Effort and Deliver a Seamless Experience
The most important element that drives customer satisfaction and loyalty is the ease of doing business with the B2B supplier. You must identify the gap that is making your customers work more before they select a product or service. Provide possible solutions to bridge that gap and the customers will automatically come your way.
HP was able to identify this gap in customer experience and started an automatic printer ink replacement service that delivered ink to the customer before it was finished. This reduced the customer effort and raised the supplier sales.
Increased customer satisfaction is linked to customer loyalty. B2B clientele is limited and the purchase lifecycle is also time consuming. Excellent customer service plays a deciding role into converting and retaining B2B customers for a longer term.