Consumer brands have delivered excellent customer experiences for the past several years, with B2B brands trailing far behind. Today,there is no excuse for B2B brands to offer similar experiences every single time they interact with a customer or prospect.
According to customer experience expert and industry keynote speaker Dan Gingiss, it’s vital for all businesses to assess how customers experience their brand at every interaction. Without that assessment, companies are positioned to leave revenue on the table.
I had a chance to sit down with Gingiss and talk about what customer experience looks likes for B2B brands now and in the coming years. He also shared four practical tips that B2B businesses can use to help them better understand their customers’ experiences and continue to improve them.
1) Become A Customer Of Your Own Company
It's common for marketing and sales teams to get stuck in the motions of their sales funnel—moving from step to step hoping customers continue to engage with them. But it's important to take time to step into your customers’ shoes and see how they experience your brand firsthand.
“Go through the process yourself as if you are the buyer,” Gingiss said. "When you see it from the other person's point of view, you start to notice things that you don't notice when you're on the business side and going through the motions. You may be doing the right thing from the business side, but you may not be doing right by your customers.”
For example, if you are a SaaS provider, Gingiss suggests registering for your own website and going through product onboarding. “I guarantee when you look at it from the buyer's perspective, you'll start to see things that don't make sense to you, like acronyms that are being used that are industry terms or even company terms that new people would have no idea what they mean,” Gingiss said. “You'll get a much better sense for it by trying to be the customer.”
2) Promote Constant Communication For Real-Time Feedback
There is no such thing as too much communication in the B2B world. Your customers are making a big decision in buying your product, solution or service—they expect a partnership more than a business transaction. This means businesses should stay in constant contact with customers to gain important feedback on their experience with their brand.
This, in turn, means that B2B companies should reconsider how they “handoff” prospects to various departments. Gingiss suggests that all departments that interacted with a prospect should stay engaged to ensure that buyers see that you value the relationship.
“On the marketing versus sales side, I think that one of the keys is that those two organizations, if they're working in sync with each other, the salesperson would actually want the marketing to continue because the marketing is teaching the prospect more about your company, educating them about your products or your services,” Gingiss said. “It's more of a soft sell than a hard sell. And the marketing should complement what the sales team is doing.”
3) Focus On Retention To Fix The ‘Leaky Bucket’
In a sales-driven company, success happens at the sale. If you can't retain, the sales team is wasting their efforts. Gingiss said that it’s vital to focus on existing customers, so their experience is so good that they renew annually because they love working with your brand.
“I work at one company where for every million dollars in net sales, the salespeople had to sell $1.4 million because they were so much of a leaky bucket on the back end,” Gingiss said. "I always advise that, rather than continuing to crush your salespeople and create unattainable goals, companies should focus on fixing that leaky bucket.”
Gingiss noted that one of the added benefits of “becoming your own customer” is gaining better knowledge of what is difficult about working with your company. From there, businesses can adjust from focusing solely on prospect experience and learn ways to increase customer retention.
4) Make Required Parts Of Your Business Remarkable!
Something unexpected goes a long way in staying top-of-mind with current and potential customers. Gingiss noted that successful companies should find those “expected” parts of the buying journey and find unique ways to differentiate.
“If you can make the required part of your business remarkable, that's how you're going to stand out,” Gingiss said.
One example he shared was from the company iFlix, a digital streaming service based in the Asian markets. Gingiss described how the company developed the copy for its disclaimers at the end of corporate emails to remove the legal jargon and add a personalized feel to it. This, in turn, leads to recipients more likely reading the disclaimers and enjoying the experience.
“They made a required part of their business remarkable, and it makes doing business with them that much more memorable,” Gingiss concluded.
An avid B2B journalist with a knack for all things trendy in the POS, mobile and social space.