If I were the betting sort, I’d put my money on the fact that your company has probably overlooked critical touchpoints in the B2B customer experience. It happens over and over, and as companies grow and contract, these important connections with customers fall through the cracks.
1. Check Out
It’s fairly well-documented this is a vital thing to get right for customers. Some companies have focused on it so well, it’s made tremendous impacts for them. Amazon essentially revolutionized the ease of online ordering thanks to one-click orders, Prime shipping, and wish lists. But what about your check out process, wherever it is? Ordering online should feel personal and efficient, but too often B2B customers are forced to fill out form after form online with the same information. The warm, personalized interface of the site turns into a cold and transactional web form. And offline, once the salesperson has sworn up and down the products will meet the customer’s unique needs, the actual process of securing payment and signing contracts can become cold and impersonal. While it’s unusual to think of this part of the process as check out, I encourage you to do so. What’s your checkout process like for your customers? It’s likely you can improve it.
So the contract is signed or the order is made, then your poor customer has to figure out why they bought in the first place. How smoothly a software deployment goes, whether it’s a huge Enterprise system or a software-as-a-service (SaaS) easily ordered online, is tied directly back to customer satisfaction. If there isn’t support and proactive help to assist the customer during this time, chances increase of not only a disappointed customer, but a customer who won’t recommend your company. In service companies, customers are handed off abruptly to account managers or client service reps. The customer, after feeling positive enough to sign, feels a level of trust with the salesperson. Being unceremoniously dumped on to a stranger is enough to make anyone feel unappreciated. Onboarding should be considered as part of the sales process. The sale is not complete until your customer is successful with your product or service.
Small businesses, please listen up. If you are sending out invoices that say “Thank you for your business” month after month, you need to get a little more creative. It’s amazing how many companies that invest in their branding totally ignore this piece as representing their brand. The best invoices are never surprising, always informative and consistently personal. The way you interact here might be the most consistent communication you have with your customers. Make sure it represents you and your brand in the best possible ways.
B2B customer experience, while different in some ways, actually has a lot in common with B2C experiences. All decisions are made by people. People like to feel appreciated, recognized and trusted. These touchpoints, along with every other, help businesses instill that trust and connection with their customers. Ignore at your own peril.
Sensei Debates: Are customers’ expectations the same in B2B as B2C? Can we leverage the same customer experience strategies? Share your point of view in the comments below.