It’s time to prioritize customer experience in B2B

It’s time to prioritize customer experience in B2B

Modern B2B customers aren’t just expecting more these days — they’re downright demanding it.

Clunky interfaces and slow responses won’t cut it anymore. Today’s customers want quick answers, personalized experiences, and zero redundant conversations. And why shouldn’t they? 

With today’s powerful marketing and sales platforms at our fingertips, there’s no excuse for falling short. It’s not just about making a sale. It’s about building trust and turning customers into lifelong fans. 

Understanding modern customer experience expectations

How we can use marketing technology not just to meet but exceed these sky-high expectations? It starts with knowing what the customers want.

They expect ease in their interactions

In the B2B environment, customers are often dealing with complex products and services, and that’s after dealing with difficult buying journeys. In a world of one-click shopping, customers have higher expectations for any company they interact with. They want interactions to be as easy and frictionless as possible. This includes intuitive user interfaces, clear communication, and responsive support.

They want quick access to information

Time is of the essence. B2B buyers want immediate access to information, whether it’s product specifications, pricing, or support documentation. A well-designed FAQ section, a (helpful) chatbot, actual live chat on your website, and easily accessible customer service can fulfill this need.

Your customers expect to have multiple options when contacting you when they can’t find info quickly — from live chat to email to phone calls. If you’re taking advantage of a service platform, it’s easy to manage live chat, and to quickly route leads/inquiries based on who is available. 

Whatever platform you’re on, don’t ignore features like these if you have them at your disposal. I’ve seen this to be true, with the excuse being that B2B buyers don’t have the same customer service needs as B2C. While that may be true in some respects, poor availability makes for a frustrating experience overall — and one that further colors the trust with the company in question.

They desire a feeling of being well-informed

Talk to any marketing director trying to select an automation tool and you’ll quickly realize — buyers want to feel confident in their decisions. They want to know that their decision to go with product A versus product B is a smart one and one that they can be proud of — not one that haunts their past and may put their job security in jeopardy. 

This requires transparent and comprehensive information from vendors. They want customer reviews, comparison tools, analytics, and detailed explanations that help them understand the value and functionality of a product or service. Too often SaaS companies especially paint a very rosy picture of what a software does, but in reality, it doesn’t measure up. 

I’ve seen this in promises of how one software platform may integrate with another. We’ve come to realize that the word “integration” is tossed around loosely. The buyer wants to know “how” this will work and see an example if possible.

They want to avoid repetitive conversations

You can probably remember a time when you’ve had to repeat your information three or four times as you got handed from request form to a bot to a rep (and then to another rep…). Or when a sales rep starts asking you questions that you already answered extensively in the lead form. How much did you still want to do business with the company after a moment like that?

Nothing frustrates a customer more than having to repeat themselves. This is true when dealing with service for you automobile or changing cell phone plans. And this holds true for B2B buying — especially because most B2B buying scenarios involve anywhere from 5-10 stakeholders. 

Ensuring consistency in customer data across various touchpoints is vital — and this is the point to drive home when using a CRM and actually saving data in the system. Too often, teams will put sales information into a CRM but fail to add notes and details that accelerate the conversations when bringing new folks into the deal meetings. When the reasons behind these data points are emphasized, teams are more likely to utilize them. 

As we move into the second half of the year, I’d recommend taking time to reflect how successfully your team is syncing information across sales, support, and marketing — whether it’s a sales call, a complaint submitted, or a form filled. Each customer’s data should live in the same place.

Give the people what they want: putting these lessons into practice

With all this in mind, how can you apply these principles across your business? While there are a number of ways to implement these ideas, I’ve spent the bulk of my career helping teams leverage a marketing platform like HubSpot to architect and deliver remarkable customer experiences. A number of platforms on the market may also have at least some of these features, or a comparable alternative, but here’s how I’d recommend moving forward if you do use the HubSpot suite of tools, but the general lessons are applicable to other platforms too.  

Marketing: provide relevant content

In the B2B landscape, providing relevant content is key to engaging potential clients and nurturing existing relationships.

Leverage your marketing platform to:

  • Sync ads audiences. This allows for targeted advertising, ensuring that the right content reaches the right audience. Use your CRM data to create highly targeted ad campaigns and uncover valuable insight.
  • Create multiple blogs for various audiences. By having different blogs for different segments, you can tailor content to specific needs and interests.
  • Use a newsletter builder. A tool like this helps to create customized newsletters, providing relevant information and updates to subscribers.
  • Set specific segmentation and lead scoring. With precise targeting and prioritization of leads, you can ensure marketing efforts are directed where they’ll have the most impact.

Part of this mindset is about meeting customers on their own time, rather than interrupting them. Notice that only one of these four items is about ads: by being content-forward, you allow customers to take the next steps at their own pace, creating a more pleasant experience.

The key is to balance both strategies, using outbound methods to complement and enhance the inbound approach. Speaking of outbound…

Sales: ensure consistent customer experiences

Consistency in customer experiences is vital for building trust and facilitating smooth transactions. From clearly defining sales rep interactions to creating a consistent way to present quotes, you can leverage your software for more reliably positive experiences.

What can you do to improve sales experience consistency?

  • Use something like HubSpot Playbooks for consistent data across reps. This ensures that all sales representatives have access to the same information, leading to uniform and consistent interactions.
  • Use easy quoting and transacting mechanisms. Use these types of features to streamline the sales process, making it easier for customers to understand pricing and to complete transactions.
  • Use a knowledge center to provide consistent answers. Sales reps should all be able to access a centralized knowledge base so customers aren’t given conflicting information or accidental false promises.

If you use HubSpot, be sure to take advantage of the detailed segmentation capabilities in your account so you can more easily customize leads’ experiences, and ensure that sales interactions are tailored to their individual needs.

Email personalization: use data points to make emails more personal

Personalized emails resonate more with recipients, leading to higher engagement rates. That’s more than just a simple “Dear [NAME]”. In fact, the fake personalization (as we call that) is often more of a damaging behavior, especially if any of those fields are wrong. 

The moral of the story here is sending emails that are relevant to the customer based on their interests or behavior. Use the right tools to customize your emails:

  • Contact properties. This allows for detailed profiling of contacts, enabling highly personalized email content.
  • Segmentation, lifecycle stages, and custom properties. These features facilitate the creation of targeted email campaigns that reflect where a contact is in their buying journey.

Dig deeper: From campaigns to conversations: The future of email marketing

Meeting (and exceeding) customer expectations is not just about making a sale. It’s about building long-term relationships, fostering brand loyalty, and turning customers into advocates for your business. It’s about understanding that the customer experience doesn’t end with a purchase; it’s an ongoing journey that requires continuous engagement and nurturing. 

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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