Your B2B Customers Aren't Automatons
In my last article, I discussed the Consumerization of B2B and why this marketplace is increasingly expecting the same gratifying customer experiences as in their roles as consumers.
Remember, if you’re selling into the B2B market your customer’s job is either to buy things, as with purchasing agents, or to buy things in order to get back to their job. Either way the experience should be as painless and efficient as possible since, you know, it’s what puts bread on the table.
Here are a few top-level ideas to make that experience more pleasing and to build brand equity along the way.
Respect Your Customer
Believing that the process somehow doesn’t deserve to be a pleasing experience, or that your customer is somehow incapable or uninterested in appreciating a smooth transaction in, dare I say it, an aesthetically pleasing environment, just doesn’t respect their position as human beings.
A Navigable Website
The vast majority of B2B purchaseers are doing research online, even if they’re regular customers. Find out what they’re seeking and build a website experience that provides them the appropriate information at the appropriate time. Hit the “must haves” right away, then allow them to easily dive deeper or compare between alternatives without losing their place.
And while you’re at it, make it look orderly and inviting. You don’t want your customers feeling as if they’ve wandered into some dark, decaying alley of the internet when they visit.
Amazon has become the new Apple when it comes to examples of how to do things right. B2B customers can have the same rewarding experience as they do on the consumer side, researching, comparing, and reading reviews.
Level Up the Mobile Experiencee
Make sure your site is optimized for mobile.
Add a “click to call” button, or at least make it easy to email from their device.
Use location-based technology at industry events to drive booth traffic or prompt a mobile-based demo.
Ask customers if they’d like a text reminder for repeat purchases based on their needs, not yours.
Social Media Isn’t Just for Deodorant
Engage customers on social media and don’t make it the Reader’s Digest version of your website. The beauty of social is the two-way interaction that builds share of mind. Curate some relevant and engaging content, make the channels interactive with give-aways or social responsibility intitiatives. You might even consider gamification here. Provide an opportunity for bragging rights on who knows the industry, product, etc. better with badges, etc.
Professional-looking product demonstrations, examples of how you make the process easier for customers, or even testimonials aren’t just for consumers. B2B buyers appreciate seeing as well as reading. And make it easy to share videos with just a click.
Surprise and Delight
This goes beyond your off-the-shelf customer loyalty program. Exceed their expectations in every way. If you treat your B2B customers like B2C consumers the experience will be as good as they expect, or better. They'll be able to refine their requirements through research, enjoy a simple purchasing process that matches their needs, and easily order products through the method most conducive to those needs at a particular time.