How to understand your B2B customer
Delivering good service to B2B customers is easy enough – offer a good product at a competitive price, treat your customers well, and keep communication consistent. But the problem is, that’s what everyone else is also doing.
Getting ahead of the pack is less simple and requires more in-depth research into your B2B customer to understand their behaviour and plan your strategy accordingly. So, while you can quite easily deliver a good customer experience, delivering a great experience takes a bit of work. But it doesn’t have to be daunting – all you really need to do is take it back to the basics.
In the B2B world, reducing churn, growing customer base, and maintaining loyalty is the main objective, but a customer’s psychological needs are typically overlooked to reach those objectives as quickly as possible. Humans crave connection, and make decisions strongly based on decisions – take Professor Steven Peters’ Chimp Paradox model for example.
Peters found the emotional side of our brain, or the ‘chimp’ side of the brain, to be five times stronger than the logical side of the brain. Tap into that, combined with other points covered in this piece, and you’re on your way to really elevating your customer relations. Here’s how to understand your B2B customer by finding out what they really want.
There’s no way around it, we’re living in a digital world. But even in a digital world, B2B customers value relationships. A B2B buyer report found that four out of five customers feel that the relationship between customer and seller influences their purchasing decisions. There are numerous ways to nurture that relationship, but another report found human connection to be the most successful. In other words, leave chatbots in the past – only 8% of strong B2B relationships use chatbots. While B2B customers are making business purchases, they’re still people – the same report found that they even prefer to wait twice as long for a human to solve their problem than a chatbot.
While this point might seem to contradict the need for human connection, there are ways to increase efficiency to improve the customer experience. B2B customers are less available than B2C – they typically have around 8 hours a day to get what they need doing, done. Real-time updates, instant response, same-day delivery, are all ways that companies can offer an efficient B2B customer journey and get ahead of competitors. Time saving is consistently found to be a priority for customers in the buying process. Interestingly, according to research, time savings in the buying process affects customer loyalty more than reducing costs. But don’t fall into the trap of relying on chatbots – make quick responses a priority by freeing up your customer service team’s time. The time zone of your target market also comes into play – a European team that’s serving a US market will have different core hours.
Convenience and consistency
Convenience and ease are key elements to any customer experience, whether that’s B2B or B2C. But B2B customers have a plethora of other things on their plate, and this purchasing decision or business relationship is a tick on their to-do list. B2B customers in particular want a simple buying journey and a streamlined process. Give them what they want by reducing the number of steps needed to find the information they need.
Once you’ve nailed your simple, quick buying process, it’s time to make sure it’s consistent across every touchpoint. B2B customers are busy and on-the-go – if they check your website or portal on their phone, will they get the same message as a desktop? Can they easily reach your customer service team on your app? This is the benchmark of delivering an omnichannel strategy – 83% of B2B leaders value an omnichannel user experience.
Finally, the overarching key to understanding your customers is transparency. Remember your customers are people – they appreciate honesty, and no one likes being disappointed. Set expectations in a human way and you’ll build trust (and loyalty) between your company and your valued customers. Don’t overpromise, set realistic timelines and prices, acknowledge mistakes, and keep open communication if mistakes or issues do arise – that’s what sets you apart from your competitors, and that’s what B2B customers really want.
Ways you can put these insights into action
Get your customers involved and directly ask what they’re looking for. People like to know their opinions matter. Whether it’s an automated request for feedback (such as automated exit polls), user focus groups, or asking a few questions at the end of a meeting, putting time and effort into gathering feedback will strength relationships and improve the quality of the feedback you’re getting.
It might sound basic – if not a little cringeworthy – but show your customers that you care. Celebrate company anniversaries (especially for start ups), reach out when they reach a milestone, keep up with what they offer their customers, and welcome new members to your customer’s team as well as wishing those leaving the company well. Go the extra mile by sending new customers a welcome care package with complimentary goodies. Treating your B2B customer like a friend will nurture a warm and long-standing partnership. This outshines stoic, overly serious companies every time.