Customer experience and Business-to-Business Part 1.

After my latest run in the BtoB techie company I began to ponder the differences in customer experience in BtoB and B2C companies? Why there is such a clear distinction in adopting the customer-centric mindset? After all, customer is the king (and queen) in both channels.

Very often executives as me in my latest position found themselves delving into the competitive advantages of building a more customer-centric service and strategy focusing on interactions between the buyer and their end consumer. However, later I realized as more and more executives that developing B2B customer-experience strategies is just as simple as in B2C world although much more invigorating.

The amount of data a company can get from its service/product end consumers (B2C) is huge and small dive into that sea already gives a good indication where to aim. In other words, there is more data to process from far more sources, and this data needs to be integrated with existing customer account data. The ability to combine customer relationship management (CRM) system data with financials, ERP and inventory management, as well as real-time data on social platforms, can be challenging, but rewarding. In case of B2B the principle is exactly the same, but the data sources often very different.

This leads me into the next challenge; how to get the data from the potential buyer if the relationship has not been formed yet? The data the potential buyer has is valuable, just as the data the retail stores have from their end consumers buying behaviour.  The trick is that the data is collected from the end consumers buying behaviour and only partly can give you advice how to approach the buyer itself.

Clearly, inviting the B2B king (or queen) into the meeting table makes it easier to understand their needs — and eventually please them with your offer presuming you can provide some added value for them. My experience is the negotiation techniques and tactics are very important as you have to find an opportunity gap from buyers business and a way how your product/service can fill this gap and bring added value for the company.

Often the plurality of buyer’s stakeholders creates complex buying behaviours. The key is the added value – something which does not cost you a dime, can be worth much more for the buyer. One has to understand the price is not the issue you are discussing; it’s the total package of different services, data, non-physical support, adaptation you can provide to the buyer. Buyer can see those little pieces of support much more valuable than the price premium and lead into a better consumer experience.

This is why it is crucial to understand the B2B purchases stem from rational decisions from the buyers point of view – not from the end consumers point of view.

Customer experience in Business-to-Business includes a pleasant, professional, helpful interaction with the organization/company representatives. This often is neglected and covered with a competition who can use more industry specific terms and vocabulary. It however is not the key; the key is the buyer understands what one is offering and the added value of it.

The generally positive feeling about the overall experience with that organization/company and everything associated with it is important. One has many opportunities to fill the discussion with the terms and technological knowledge later as the process normally takes from 6 to 12 months. However, one should be selling the end result not the way one gets to the end result.

Often when discussing with Techies the discussion turns into User Experience (UX) instead of Consumer Experience (CX). It is imperative to understand UX deals with the people interacting with your product/service. CX in contrast, encompasses all the interactions a person has with your brand. In essence, UX is part of a broader CX, but CX contains some aspects outside of a product that UX does not.

It can work in reverse, as well. One might have the best advertising, brand recognition, sales team, customer service representatives, and organizational structure (all CX-related items), but if customers’ interactions with your website, mobile app, software or other product (all UX-related items) create barriers to completion of the desired tasks, overall CX fails.

You can see how UX is really a component of CX, and each play an important role in the overall success of a product/service, the reputation of your brand, and customers’ loyalty to your brand. If you fail in fulfilling either one the other will fail too.

This is where I will leave you to clarify your mind after just a few words of CX and B2B. In the next part I will concentrate more on the original topic; Customer Experience and B2B.

Lenni Koivisto

The writer has started his career in a variety of roles relating to brands, marketing and sales, later strategies and larger brand migrations. Travel retail and FMCG business globally and business development in small and large companies are also part of his repertoire. In service industry; he has been a strategic management team member, international sales champion and marketing guru mainly due to his creative and innovative approach to the industry and life. He is confident presenter and been e.g. in Slush presenting the winning pitch in the Elisa (international Telco operator) IoT Challenge competition (https://youtu.be/fiN7KRStPbw). The writer has also extensive knowledge and experience of business in the Nordic’s, the Baltic’s, China and South East Asia.

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