In the current marketing landscape, customer experience is fast emerging as a major differentiator superseding even price and product quality.
As customer acquisition becomes one of the biggest yardsticks of success for a business, losing customers owing to an unpleasant experience anywhere in the customer journey would be a major loss for the business. Let’s see what constitutes this experience and try and make it better.
In a B2B scenario, customer experience isn’t just based on a single act or a transaction but is a sum of all touch point experiences that the customer has with your brand; touch points being service or product delivery, communication at every stage of the way, accounts & documentation and post-delivery support etc. As the journey entails multiple check posts, therefore this guide is not a marketer’s road map alone. All customer facing departments need to be trained & wired on creating the desired impact. However generally it is the CMO who leads the pack.
Here are some tips for marketers towards creating a great experience:-
1.Trickle the customer-centric attitude down the line
From being a sales organization to be a customer centric organization is a major shift for any organization. It involves everyone in the company realizing that they are playing a role in building trust with the customer and meeting his/her needs. Being accountable to the customer is not the job of a sales manager on the account alone; it is a concerted effort and works like a relay. This value creation generally happens with consistent training of all front facing employees/ account management teams on the problem-solving approach and responding with a smile when it comes to dealing with customers.
2. Have consistency in experience design
-All marketing tools/customer touch points; offline or online website, corporate presentations, marketing collaterals, sales tool kit, official merchandise, office/plant spaces, stationery, social media pages, mailers, advertisements and PR pieces should wear the same visual look.
-All branded content should carry the same brand promise.
-All human interfaces, right from the call centre executive to salesperson’s/account managementteams should share the corporate script aka corporate presentation and communicate the same organogram & leave customers with standardized email ids for standard set of queries.
3.Offer them simplified platforms/Ease of correspondence
Using technology to interact is a win –win, both for the marketer as well as the customer as most technologies are tailored to simplify both ends of the spectrum. Today with a good CRM tool it is possible to automate the complete sales process.
A robust CRM tool could help customers transact via a single window throughout the sales journey. Transactions include being able to order online, visibility to stage wise progress of order through auto email/sms alerts, referring any historical data if required, transport tracking, online payments, documentation, account statements, feedback or complaint resolution if any. Apart from these basic transactions, there could be value added functions incorporated in the system like customers’ education through product explainer videos, technical columns, webinars; live chat; new product development discussions etc.
Also, Chat bots are being extensively used to help customers connect with the company round the clock.
4. Use technology to offer personalization
With marketing automation tools, it is possible for marketers to manage databases, do customer profiling, and send them personalised and sequential communication/offerings which in other terms is referred to as account-based marketing. This communication could be customised on basis of geography or language. It can go as far as customer getting to see versions of the website that they are interested in.
And needless to say, all this starts with knowing your customers really well, understanding their demographics, psychographics and this is where data management platforms come in handy.
5. Be their adviser/be subject experts
The most successful B2B marketers are the ones who do not believe in pushing their agendas on to their customers. They are ones who keep checking with their customers on their growth-based challenges and look for options to best address them. This can work in two ways, either establish yourself as an industry expert providing valuable content or provide one-on-one service to make key product recommendations.
The first option is today practiced with the help of content marketing. Here the marketer would generate thought leadership content from time to time and attempt to keep the audience engaged through this content. It could be their own content or content/research papers which have been sponsored by the marketer to keep customers informational needs ahead of their own promotional messages.Like in B2C industry, it is important to be a brand with a purpose; in B2B it is important to be seen as a brand with authority.
Second option works by wearing the advisory hat. Advisory helps in allaying customers purchase led fears & anxiety and helps in creating a long-term, trusting relationship.
6. Offer post-delivery support/After sales service
Post-delivery support is something that no marketer can afford to ignore, be it B2B or B2C space. The Sales cycle does not end at the delivery of the product at the customers end, it is important that marketers take feedback on the product delivery experience witnessed by the customer as well as check on his comfort of coming back for repeat business. It also means providing troubleshooting assistance as and when required and continued education to use the products to their full potential.
To sum it up, it is important for marketers to not just reach out to their customers when it is opportune for the business, it is important that they make sure that they the organization is connected to the customer throughout the sales process and tuned to their different needs along the way.