What is B2B “Customer Experience”?
Customer experience is more than just a marketing buzz phrase. A good, consistent customer experience accelerates the buyer’s journey, creates positive brand equity, and inspires prospects to purchase. Brands that have made a meaningful connection with consumers have been able to understand and anticipate their unique needs, personalize their interactions, and even turn seemingly mundane purchasing into a deeper experience.
So, how does this apply to B2B marketing?
While business customers want an experience on par with what they’ve come to expect from their personal purchases, it is important to understand some of the fundamental differences in purchasing behavior between consumers and businesses. Business decisions are often much more complex, involving multiple stakeholders and covering everything from specific product requirements, price, and payment terms to logistics and legal considerations.
B2B buyers want their vendors to anticipate their needs, make relevant suggestions, and deliver the right level of engagement across the entire buying journey. B2B buyers have come to expect streamlined, digital transactions, and they expect their partners to deliver these kinds of omnichannel interactions.
Some call it the consumerization of corporate purchasing. This is why B2B organizations are increasingly turning to data and analytics, adtech, marketing automation, and customer data platforms as part of their toolkit to create personalized, seamless experiences for their clients across as many touchpoints as possible.
B2B Customer Experience Research
Recently, Dun & Bradstreet partnered with Adweek Branded to produce the “2020 Data-Driven Marketing & Advertising Outlook” to assess how B2B marketers are prioritizing and formulating their strategies for the upcoming year. The information found in the report is based on the results of a multinational survey of B2B marketers (including some agencies). All 255 respondents were involved in B2B marketing and had a job title of manager or above.
The report summarizes the significance of B2B customer experience, the role of data and analytics tools, the need for data governance, the impact on account-based marketing, and next steps for B2B marketers.
According to the report findings, 43% of respondents believe it is extremely important for their company to deliver a consistent customer experience across their various digital and offline channels and 46% strongly agree that B2B organizations need to be as focused on customer experience as their B2C counterparts. Yet 33% feel their company’s inability to fully leverage the data and data tools they currently have is their company’s biggest hurdle in delivering a better cross-channel or omnichannel customer experience.
B2B Customer Experience Trends and Strategies
According to the report, B2B organizations have become as focused on providing a superior experience as their consumer counterparts. However, transforming into an experience-focused enterprise requires a data-driven approach. To deliver a better experience, B2B marketers need to know who their customers are, how they behave, what they like, and what they do.
ABM remains a critical way for B2B marketers to use data to their advantage. Still, ABM is new for many organizations and they are hindered by a lack of a cohesive strategy. Thirty-five percent of marketers surveyed see an unclear ABM strategy as the biggest hurdle to success with account-based marketing.
So, what does this mean for B2B marketers? Creating a solid data foundation and gaining a complete 360-degree customer view will be key to providing a meaningful B2B customer experience in 2020. Leveraging the right tools, such as data cleansing and enrichment, web de-anonymization, and analytics and segmentation tools will be essential for marketers to deliver the kind of personalization and ease-of-use that business consumers expect at scale.