With B2B customers being a distance away in time and place due to small groups of decision makers who require a long purchase cycle, B2B customers can be harder and more expensive to convert. Yet, by involving a clear customer experience from the outset of the working relationship, businesses can arguably engender a positive outlook that fosters an impression of compatibility and an affinity for customer loyalty.
Customer centricity and intimacy is the target to attain. The more a business can understand their customer, the greater opportunity a company has to differentiate from their competition. Customer loyalty should not be taken as a given, despite customer satisfaction, as the relationship must be continually nurtured and maintained. This can be done using a blend of both brand-led and CRM-led marketing methodologies to not only attract B2B customers, but also to serve them better with customer experiences that prolong the fruitful working relationship with them.
So, what practical steps can be implemented to ensure that a business’s B2B customer experience can outperform the competition?
Following a CRM-led approach, where possible have staff members who are dedicated to being a customer success team, whereby they can gauge customer sentiment, as well as being able to make sure customers are being fulfilled by the service or product provided. By having continued touchpoints to ‘check in’ with customers, businesses can proactively show their dedication to customer relationships.
Treat each customer uniquely, despite them coming to the business for the same product or service. This can be done at different stages of the relationship, yet this will more likely be frontloaded to the outset of interactions whereby businesses can find out what their customer hopes to achieve in the short-mid- and long-term. Additionally, understand why a customer is primarily attracted to the solution and continue to discover further key aspects that can help nurture the relationship. Perhaps the customer has a preferred communication style. Find out their intention for using the product or service and what problem they are ultimately trying to solve.
Being proactive with overcommunicating with customers is a sure-fire way to avoid any moments where they may feel overlooked. Communicating with customers, especially around key stages in the relationship such as product renewals, will help with customer loyalty.
Following a brand-led approach, by focusing on positioning and messaging within marketing, businesses can use these aspects to differentiate from competitors and demonstrate intimacy with customers, as well as build upon customer trust. Taking a leaf from B2C marketing, it could be posited that there is a need in B2B marketing for messaging to be defined by aspects such as psychographics, life-stage, age, purchasing power, and regional differences, among others. With these being defined, B2B sales can avoid being overly reliant on the technical prowess of the product or service, and supplement this with a more relatable, benefit-based messaging aimed at other decision makers involved in the buying process such as investors, procurement, finance, press, and others. This can help make the customer experience permeate more meaningfully through to key staff members so they too can comprehend and make sense of the B2B relationship.
As a sports marketing agency in the UK, SQN have been involved with B2B relationships, and have supported clients with customer experience and satisfaction over many years. If you need further advice or are interested in how we can help you forge stronger B2B relationships with your customers, then please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.