Customer Experience News & Trends

The new B2B experience looks a lot like the B2C one

The line has blurred between the B2B and B2C customer experience. Here’s what B2Bs can learn from B2Cs.

Turns out, B2B buyers are more like consumers than you might think, according to research from Avande.

In fact, business buyers increasingly mimic the shopping behaviors of consumers — from those who shop online to those who shop at the mall.

How’s that? B2B shoppers also research product and service details and reviews online before even talking to salespeople, and they’re concerned about the experience — not just the product.

“The consumerization … is dramatically transforming the traditional ways companies sell products and services to other businesses …,” says Mick Slattery, executive VP at Avanade. “It’s no longer business-to-business or business-to-consumer. It’s business-to-everyone.”

A shift in expectations

Highlights from the research:

  • Most business customers are willing to pay as much as 30% more for a product or service that offers an improved customer experience.
  • More than 60% of business customers consider third-party sites and feedback from business partners, industry peers and social channels more important than conversations with a salesperson when considering a purchase.
  • 70% of business customers believe technology will primarily replace human interaction between themselves and their vendors’ salespeople in the next 10 years.

Learn from different experiences

B2Bs can learn from B2C companies — when it comes to sales tactics and customer experience initiatives — to gain new customers and build loyalty. Much of it has to do with embracing customers’ growing desire to use technology throughout the experience, researchers said.

Some prime examples:

  • Boost the number of employees interacting with customers. About 40% of businesses have already started using this strategy. Historically, that might have meant bringing a product specialist, tech or customer service rep to a sales meeting with customers. Those are still good ideas, but B2B salespeople can also do this by customers easy access to colleagues who are experts the same way B2Cs do. For example, share direct links — mobile numbers, chat channels and email addresses — so customers feel like they have greater access to experts like they do with consumer organizations.
  • Go mobile. Nearly half of businesses have changed or upgraded sales and service technology to support customers in new ways. And they’ve seen results: About 60% said the enhancements have improved customer loyalty and revenue. While you probably don’t want to run out and overhaul your systems and processes, there’s one technology and channel that should be on your radar: mobile. Increasingly, B2B buyers are following in consumers’ footsteps and doing business from their phones — checking account statuses, asking questions, finalizing deals, etc. Work with IT to get your website optimized for mobilization, and work with Service to have the staff in place to support it.
  • Offer an upgrade. B2C customers have almost always been willing to pay more for a better experience — for instance, fast passes at amusement parks, ballpark tickets that include wait service at seats, and extra charges for faster shipping from a retailer. B2B customers will do the same in transactions now. So consider offering exclusive treatment for a premium.

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