While working on this article, the working title was, “How to create a ‘winning’ customer experience in a B2B context?”
One of the things efficient marketing teaches us is – semantics. They matter.
WHAT DOES A MEMORABLE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MEAN?
Winning is, in a general context, a more inward looking word. It focuses on the business rather than the customer. Also, creating something that wins also implies that there is a loser. In an interaction with your customer, you do not want to imply that. Therefore ‘memorable’ sounds more relevant.
You would want your customer to have an experience that they will remember positively.
Does this analogy sound familiar? Isn’t that what you would do in a long term relationship?
That’s exactly what creating a memorable B2B customer experience is about. A B2B customer relationship is a long term partnership – both parties invest a decent to significant amount of time, effort and money; both have high expectations; the cost of switching out will be quite taxing as well.
Like in a long term personal relationship, you need to abide by some foundation principles for the relationship to be strong. A strong relationship is an enriching one, a memorable one.
As a B2B organisation, you will need to focus on 5 key tenets to create a memorable experience for your customers:
- Build Trust
- Demonstrate Empathy
- Invest Time
- Be Personal
- Be Available
Being trustworthy is a basic requirement. However, in the times that we live, this as a B2B organisation, you may need to invest more time towards telling your customer that you can be trusted. There are various ways of doing that depending on your business. Showing transparency in transactions is one way of building trust.
A Facilities Management company followed a cost plus method of billing their clients. Too often the clients, represented by building manager to CFO’s would question the costs presented to them. Too many meetings and man hours were wasted in justifying costs.
This company then decided to open up their books for the clients to inspect any time they wanted. Once the clients saw how efficiently their vendor was managing the books and therefore the charges to them were fair, they began to be more trustworthy.
This masterstroke did not cost the Facilities Management company any additional investment. On the contrary, it reduced the time the managers had to spend on paperwork and meetings.
In the highly vocal, highly dense digital world that we live in, voices often get lost. However, the fact remains that everyone does have a voice. You just need to listen carefully.
Listening to your customer, reading effectively between the lines and understanding their needs is important. It not only helps you to deliver the intelligent solutions, but it also positions you as a trustworthy partner.
Prospa – a fintech startup based out of Melbourne, found that a lot of SMBs – their target market – had trouble in filing their quarterly BAS. They quickly created a how to guide on how to do so efficiently and circulated among current and potential customers.
As a B2B business, you too can do a similar thing by creating a how to guides to help your customers solve their day to day problems.
Time play an important role in any good relationship’s growth.
By investing your time, it is implied that you do so wisely. Your actions need to be relevant to your client. It does not mean spending actual physical time with the clients or spending more hours on the client’s job than agreed upon.
Demonstrating respect for your client’s time is a great way of creating a great customer experience.
Simple things such as being on time for meetings or sticking to committed timelines 100% of the time go a long way in creating a memorable customer experience as well.
Occasionally, there will be crisis situations which are outside your control. In addition to coming across as problem solvers, these will be opportunities for your organisation to show genuine empathy as well. In such circumstances, spend as much time as needed in solving your customer’s problems.
One of the implications of this explosion in B2C customer experience is that B2B customers have also come to expect the same level of service that is delivered in B2C environments.
This should not come as a surprise. We need to acknowledge that the person on the other side of the table in a B2B marketing environment is a consumer herself. She buys goods and services for her personal needs on a regular basis. She also has great experiences quite regularly. So, when she comes to her office, she is tuned to expect a similar experience.
Technology today allows personalisation in transactions. There is no reason to believe that the personalisation is to be restricted to B2C environments.
One great example is of SAP using social selling to sell its cloud solutions. They targeted, prospected and nurtured leads with personalised solutions leading to a 40% increase in qualified leads.
When you get into a B2B contract, both you and your client have invested a significant amount of time and money to reach there. This also means that invariably, senior people from both sides were involved in decision making.
Also, once the execution begins, different teams get involved and interact with each other on a day to day basis. Having your senior members finding a way to get involved at different and unexpected stages of the engagement can be a memorable customer experience.
Visibility of senior members and / or original deal makers from the vendor’s side helps in keeping the client comfortable and extremely confident of the engagement.
Another advantage of this availability is the continuous flow of feedback. Having access to decision makers from the vendor will make the client more open to providing feedback. Providing the client with a regular channel to share their grievances, if any, will keep surprises away.
All of the customer experience tenets mentioned above are simple and easy to execute. These would be the foundation for creating a memorable customer experience.
What are the things your organisation does to create memorable customer experiences?