There’s no doubt that technology is rapidly reshaping the way a customer interacts with a brand. With more ways to self-serve, proactive pathways to resolution based on AI, and machine learning coming into focus, B2B brands in particular have a more efficient way to keep their customers satisfied during all points of their journey to purchase.
But if these brands wish to improve their B2B customer experience, they should remember that it’s incredibly easy to break the experience with innovation if it’s siloed, according to Matthew Agronin, SVP Marketing & Growth, Ubiquity.
How to improve B2B customer experience
“That new app? Great, except if you can perform some self-service functions using it but other services still require a call or email,” Agronin says.
“That new AI to help proactively answer a customer’s question? Awesome, unless the algorithm is still learning (spoiler: it’s always learning, which means there are times it’s not going to be right) and the customer has had to spend extra time dealing with technology only to still need to speak with an agent.”
Consider this: a typical Fortune 2000 company has a single domain with seven million pieces of content and receives one billion visits every year (with an average visit duration of four minutes).
“That creates 4 billion minutes of customer experience annually,” Christopher P Willis, Chief Marketing Officer at Acrolinx.
“And in that time, if people can’t find what they want or are confused by what they find, customer experience suffers.”
Here are some B2B customer experience trends for brands to keep in mind as they continue to evolve their marketing efforts.
Current B2B customer experience trends
One of the biggest marketing trends in the B2B space is a new emphasis on humanizing the message, according to Kelly Okerson, Sales and Marketing Associate at the integration firm, Constant Technologies.
“Even when we’re marketing to other businesses, it’s important to keep in mind that ultimately there is another human being behind the decision-making. For B2B marketing, the goal is to figure out how to appeal specifically to that particular decision-maker.”
Finding a seamless balance between automation and humanity creates a unique way for an organization to cut down costs combined with customer service — but towing that line is difficult.
“Employees and managers of B2B brands need to share a common and robust goal of customer-centricity for 100% commitment throughout the organization.”
There’s also an important shift away from talking about just what you sell and pivoting toward how you can help clients.
“Marketing to other businesses is shifting to a more empathetic, ‘customer first’ messaging, rather than the more outdated practice of solely focusing on telling them what your business does,” according to Okerson.
“The focus is on the practical results that a customer can get from using your products and services, rather than leading with just talking about those products and services. That way, it feels more like a conversation and less like a sales pitch.”
Content is also a huge driver of customer experience.
More than ever, customers and prospects are meeting and engaging with companies digitally — web traffic increased 60% in some countries since the pandemic outbreak (OECD), and it’s content that creates those connections and experiences online. That makes content a major asset to a B2B business.
“Content guides people through every stage of the customer journey, so it’s constantly speaking on behalf of a brand,” Willis says.
“It might not end up on the corporate balance sheet, but content is the fuel that powers all the digital touchpoints that make up the customer experience, so it holds a lot of value. Just like anything of value, it requires care — to keep it fit and performing well. So increasingly, enterprises have been prioritizing content in their customer experience initiatives.”
Lastly, B2B has always been about building and maintaining relationships, and that is more crucial than ever now.
To improve your B2B customer experience, evaluate your customer journey from the customer’s perspective and delve into how you can make the process as simple and painless as possible for them, Amber Reed-Johnson, Copywriting Assistant at Giraffe suggests.
“You can also send out surveys to your existing customers to get real, first-hand comments about your customer experience to help you improve. Furthermore, make sure your messaging to customers comes across as genuine and empathetic. To retain customers, as well as attract new customers, it’s imperative to treat customers with respect.”