How to fine-tune the customer experience (and 5 B2B brands leading the way)

When they're good, they're very good, but when they're bad they're awful. No, we're not talking films starring Matthew McConaughey but differing approaches to the all-important customer experience

Sometimes it even seems like they’re doing their darndest to shake you off: keeping you on hold for hours, ignoring your tweets and deliberately mystifying you with their needlessly complicated websites. But for brands looking for glory, a stellar approach to CX is part and parcel of the overall strategy, embedded and embraced at every level of the company. Here, B2B buyers tell us how to make your customers happy and give us the heads up on who’s leading the way.

Perfect your on-boarding process

It might seem obvious, but too many brands forget to ensure customers’ initial experience of the product or service is of the requisite quality. Claire Owen-James, MD, Loud and Clear Accounting, is a big proponent of accounting and book-keeping firm Receipt Bank's approach: “They always phone you when they say they will and continue to keep in touch to see how you are… and I don’t dread the calls as I come away with ideas rather than pressure to sell their product. You have a dedicated account manager who must take a lot of notes during the calls as they remember who you are, your goals and little details about your firm.”

Find out who your customers are

Customer personas aside, how much do you know about your individual customers and their business? Just because you’re a global brand doesn’t mean this isn’t possible – or necessary. “The customer service at Apple Business is personalised and informed,” says Lawrie Jones, MD of 42group. “They know what products we have, what software we use and a little about our business. It makes a real difference to how we feel as customers.”

"If your customer posts a blog on social media, it makes perfect CX sense to share and retweet it"

Consider the added extras

Showing that you know your customers – and, crucially, care about them – shouldn’t be seen as stalkerish, but a sign that you're a human, empathetic brand. “At Receipt Bank, if you have a baby, they’ll send you a Receipt Bank branded baby grow,” says Claire. “And we all got advent calendars at Christmas. On a more practical note, they constantly provide you with information to help you create a more efficient practice whether it’s through system blueprints or referral whitepapers.”

Martine Robbins from The HR Dept Advice Line is a big fan of Moo Print Limited, a business card printing company. “With my first order they sent me some free funny additional stickers,” she says. “And after placing another order I received an email confirmation from Little Moo the print robot – dealing with them is a really positive, mood-enhancing experience!”

Share their content

Making sure your customers feel supported and championed is crucial: if they post a blog on social media, it makes perfect CX sense to share and retweet it. "This makes makes you feel supported and can provide extra exposure," says Claire Owen-James. "When I first started out, it was this support that helped to grow my Twitter followers and drive traffic to my site – really helping with my Google rankings. As a start-up that was pretty priceless."

Foster a community feel

What sets Receipt Bank apart, says Claire, is their sense of community. “They want to be seen as an extension of your firm, so they set up meetings with groups of their 'partners' (accountants and bookkeepers), paying for lunch and giving the group an opportunity to discuss problems, achievements and where the industry is going, which is great."

Cloud-based accountancy software provider Xero are also pretty good at bringing people together. "Where they've have been really clever is in building an eco-system of ‘Add-on Partners’," explains  Alasdair McGill, founder, Ashton McGill Limited. "These are app developers like Crunchboards or Gusto - there are over 500 available on the Xero App marketplace. And of course, each of those will funnel users towards the Xero platform."

Remember that speed is of the essence

Your customers are busy people, so will always appreciate a timely response - Keith Mills, founder of Quantize Courses, sings the praises of SendOwl in this area: "We really appreciate that every member on the team understands the product inside out so there is no unnecessary time wasted with incorrect information and everything always gets resolved very quickly.

"Their response time to emails is fantastic, they usually reply within a few hours and if anything needs to be pushed to their development team they get it done quickly. The overriding feeling we have is that nothing ever seems to be too much trouble: they are both efficient and approachable in equal measures."

Go above and beyond

For Lawrie Jones, Apple Business demonstrates care and quality not normally associated with global brands. “Recently a laptop charging cable and battery broke a few weeks after the warranty period ended,” he explains. “Rather than charge us full price, the Apple staff member used his discretion and gave us a replacement for free. It’s little things like this that can help us. It may only be £200, but that’s a decent amount saved for a start-up.”

Xero do this by providing customers with an education platform, Xero U. " Yes, this includes training on Xero itself," says Ali, "but also on things like marketing, using social media, and of course delivering great customer experience."

Are any other B2B brands particularly impressing you with their approach to CX? Let us know!


CXcellence: How to achieve CX success in B2B

When does customer experience matter most? And what can you do to deliver an exceptional customer experience throughout the customer journey? 

In this research project we surveyed 100 B2B buyers and 165 B2B marketers to find out exactly when CX matters most, and which parts of the experience marketers should be focusing their efforts on. 

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  • Which CX factors are the most influential in buyers' decision-making
  • Where marketers are currently focusing their CX efforts, and their biggest CX management challenges. 

Read this report to:

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