B2B customers expect the same experience as their B2C counterparts, but you can’t just copy the same methods writes Robert Green
Much like the way to Mordor, the B2B customer experience journey isn’t as straightforward as one might think. A one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work anymore, and there are various obstacles and challenges to overcome. Offering a dry, lumpen proposition isn’t good enough – B2B customers deserve the same amount of dedication and care that a B2C buyer receives. Although it’s lagging behind when compared to labyrinthine, in-store experiential masterpieces from commercial brands, B2B can make for a proper experience as opposed to providing the cheapest solutions then bowing out.
B2B comms can be truly meaningful, but you have to give them that meaning, that 2018 context and relatability. It turns out that 73% of B2B purchasing decisions are made by millennials, and they’re not going to bite if you approach them the same as you would’ve done 10 years ago. The trick isn’t just to ape B2C methods, though.
The journey is a lot bumpier than in B2C
It’s a much longer buying cycle, with multiple facets to consider before you dive in. Everything is connected – budget cycles, various deadlines and more all have an impact on what your buyer does next.
For this reason, mapping the journey is much more complex; it’ll do you well to have a ‘standard’ map, but allow room for bespoke, tailor-made services and tracks for clients who work differently. Because nobody works the same and your B2B customers will all be very different.
Any face-to-face or phone time you can get with the client will make understanding them, their working process and their goals infinitely easier. If you work in collaboration with your customer, it brings you closer to what they want from the journey.
Your assets need to be delivered not just on time, but before time
Nobody likes waiting. In the B2C world, people love it when they get a product on release day or – even better – before the official launch. Pre-release hype and pre-orders have become marketing strategies of their own, but you probably can’t offer a free t-shirt or instant music download alongside your B2B work.
You need to be more creative with how you package your services. And this doesn’t mean rolling out any of that ‘underpromise, overdeliver’ nonsense. It means getting everything aligned so when the green light flickers, everyone’s on the same page. Your customer knows you’re on the same page, and they’ll come to you for business again because you’re a reliable partner with a consistent track record. Delivering assets on and before time is one of the most important things you can do for B2B customers, because at the end of the day, it’s the work that matters, and it’s the work that’ll garner you continued custom.
This all leads to a personalised, genuine connection with your customer
Through free-flowing, unsiloed data workouts and good comms all round, you’ll be able to tailor your services to each individual customer.
Although the average B2B sales cycle is around 10 months, some clients will want a shorter span, some longer. You have to be responsive and do everything in your power to accommodate these needs, treating your clients as real people, as customers.