Five strategies to create a B2B customer experience that beats the competition
Exceptional CX inspires loyalty, preventing your competitors from luring away your top customers. But do you know what this looks like in practice?
Great customer service centres on people. And as a result of the pandemic, those people now have higher expectations, waning patience, and, arguably, increased loyalty for the companies that create a stellar CX and deliver on it every time.
Whilst so much attention has been paid to CX within B2Cs, the B2B CX may too often be pushed down the priority list. Though customers may be satisfied with your product or service, that satisfaction does not always lead to loyalty, especially as your competitors could be offering the same thing at a lower price.
This is why it’s increasingly important, and incredibly valuable, for B2B companies to create a CX that inspires loyalty—one where customers continue to choose you because of you. Here are five strategies to create a B2B CX that beats the competition.
1. Set the right expectations
Many moments of frustration derive from a mismatch between customers’ expectations for interactions and a company’s ability to deliver. A good strategy is to over communicate from the beginning, which both negates the frustration around any potential slow-downs and interruptions, whilst also providing customers with an idea of what it’s like to do business with you.
- Set expectations around communication types, frequency, and wait times so customers understand your ability to serve them.
- Answer the questions customers most frequently ask before they do. More than 70% of customers expect a business to understand and anticipate their needs. This saves them time whilst also demonstrating how well you understand their needs.
- Make sure you share details about any potential delays caused by outside factors before they can lead to moments of frustration. This can be done on your website, social media channels, app, email, or in initial onboarding conversations.
2. Treat each customer situation as complex
Whilst most of your customers are coming to you for the same type of service or product, personalised service begins with treating every customer as a unique individual. Do not over-simplify customers’ needs and/or goals - so much can get lost in these assumptions, including the potential for growing the relationship (and your business).
- Host a customer onboarding session with your customers to talk through why they selected you and what they hope to accomplish as a way to set mutual goals that can be referred back to. This meeting demonstrates your commitment to their success, and your mutual partnership, long-term.
- Using information from the onboarding, create a customer profile for each of your customers that includes operational things like their purchased product or service and how they’ll use it, why they came to you, and their preferred communication styles. Don’t forget the personal information like your contact’s time zone, how they prefer to be addressed, and any details that add colour to them as an individual.
- After every customer interaction, update the customer profile with relevant notes. Treat each interaction as an opportunity to learn more and to demonstrate what you have learned so far in your relationship.
3. Segment existing customer communications
Companies spend so much energy creating custom communication plans during the acquisition phase. Yet, there are key opportunities with existing customers to retain their business and even sell them additional products. There’s a reason 61% of companies are increasing their investment in support, especially for all of their communication channels.
- Leverage your data and information on existing customers (which services they use, how they use the product, their price point) to make communications more relevant and thus more personal.
- Choose the right platform for communicating with existing customers, whether that’s in-app, through email, on live chat, or via personal phone call. Your customer notes are a valuable resource for knowing where to go and when.
- Bolster your human-to-human interactions through automation with tactics like scheduling proactive communications: Is your customer due for an upgrade? An extension? Does a product update affect them? Great service is proactive - providing more before a customer thinks to ask.
4. Commit through customer success
Beyond providing fantastic service, building a customer success team demonstrates to customers that you are dedicated to helping them achieve their goals. It’s a commitment to them and provides proactive, reliable support that can set you apart.
- Use customer success teams to work with customers directly every day, to better gauge and understand customer sentiment about your product and company. You can then use that information to better how you do business and provide service.
- Go the extra mile by proactively reaching out to make sure customers are enjoying their service or to provide education around new products. It’s important to periodically follow up to make sure things are going well (or how they could be better).
- Use these teams to consistently release new resources and tools to help your customers’ businesses grow and provide ongoing value.
5. Focus on employee training and experience
Today's customers make buying decisions based on their experiences, with 84% saying the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. Your employees are the ones providing that experience, and so should be trained properly and treated well.
- Prioritising the employee experience is as important as considering the CX because the way companies treat employees will reflect how they treat customers. Always train for, and treat, team members with empathy.
- Even if a customer problem feels familiar, encourage your team to never assume what a customer wants or needs and instead to ask and listen. Teach them to use critical thought in every scenario and practice through coaching. Being present in customer conversations is key to showing that companies care.
- Skip the use of pre-packaged phrases and empower employees to use their personalities to talk to customers naturally. During training, focus on the type of customers with whom employees will interact: Will it be more formal? Quick asks? Something sensitive or personal? Encourage employees to be authentic to the situation.
Investing in your CX can have a dramatic effect on customer acquisition and retention. And it will absolutely make you stand out from the competition, even during times of price fluctuations and service or product growth. Now is the time to evolve your B2B service strategy into one that can’t be beaten.
Want to learn more what great CX looks like?
Why not check out Propolis, our exclusive community for B2B marketers to share insights, learn from industry leading marketers, and access our best content. Propolis includes a Hive (group) specially dedicated to CX.