The term customer experience is considered by some people to be a “buzzword”, especially in the B2B (business-to-business) customer support industry. It can be described by skeptics as some flashy B2C (business-to-consumer) way to describe the simple process of helping out a customer.
But what if there’s more to it than just answering a customer question or two? Here are four reasons why B2B customer experience management matters more than you think…
1) The B2B experience is more personal than B2C – The B2C customer experience can sometimes be fleeting in nature, with interactions between customers and businesses being unmemorable for both parties. In B2B, experiences between customers and businesses can last for long periods of time. For example, during an IT implementation process a customer may work closely with the same group of people at a business for weeks or even months at a time. Bonds of trust can be formed or broken during this time and these bonds can make or break a business relationship. People in general tend to be more forgiving to people they respect, enjoy working with, and most importantly know well. A positive interpersonal experience could be the “ace up your sleeve” you need in the business world if something should ever go wrong with a customer, and could save the customer relationship.
2) There is little room for error in the B2B customer experience – Even though B2B customers have the potential to be more forgiving in the right circumstances, this doesn’t mean businesses have a free pass to make errors all the time. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. In B2C if a business makes an error in their customer experience, a customer goes online and can easily find all of the errors the company (and their competitors) have made in the past. Feeling defeated, many B2C customers will just stay with the company, despite the error, due to sheer apathy because there isn’t a better option available. B2B is different; some customers have relationships with people at competing businesses and have options available. It’s important to control day-to-day factors in the B2B customer experience as much as possible – from service quality to responsiveness and everything in between – to minimize the amount of errors that impact the customer experience. These errors are simply costlier in B2B than B2C as replacing a B2B customer (and its sometimes larger revenue) is more difficult.
3) A good customer experience is more than cultures aligning – We’ve all been a part of a meeting that goes well with a company and you dream about your aspirations together. However, especially in B2B, there is more to the customer experience than a happy relationship between companies. For example, making sure the technology between two companies is aligned can be paramount to a successful working relationship. Two software companies can get along great, but if they have a key integration in different programming languages it doesn’t matter how good the comraderie is – working together will be difficult. Sure they could create an integration in the same language, but it could be costly and time-consuming to complete. While culture and company principles are important in B2B relationships, don’t forget about the nuts and bolts that may cause a relationship to sour quickly.
4) A good customer experience is never complete – A customer experience is not a math equation in the sense that there is no universally correct answer. Businesses who understand what it takes to create a solid customer experience also understand the experience never ends; it’s important to continually facilitate feedback on how to improve the experience. Use the info gathered to learn about your customer – from employees to facilities – and figure out what can improve the experience the most while keeping time and resources in mind. By doing this, the improved customer experience can be used to increase customer retention and drive new sales. Don’t be afraid to try new things to improve the experience and make sure to keep up with competitor experiences. Learning from others is important in improving the customer experience.
In conclusion, the B2B customer experience can matter more than you think because it aligns company culture, personal relationships, technology, and continuous improvement. Sure, it may still be a buzzword, but the concepts behind it are key business principles. Don’t be fooled by the terminology - it's important to understand how a solid customer experience, driven by B2B software for customer support, can help your business improve and attract new customers.