As a business owner, one area that has consistently fascinated me is the creation of an exceptional customer experience. When Ruepoint was founded six years ago, our top priority was defining the customer experience and cultivating the culture required to support it. We engaged in discussions encompassing various aspects, including how we wished our brand to be perceived, adapting to growth, and sustaining the customer experience.
Our mission revolves around assisting PR and communication professionals in demonstrating their value, with a strong emphasis on measurement and evaluation. In this article, I am excited to share our journey and the valuable insights gleaned from a recent webinar I conducted with AMEC CEO Johna Burke on September 5th, titled, “What Can B2B Learn from B2C About Customer Experience?”
The convergence of B2B and B2C
We’ve witnessed a shift in customer behaviour within the B2B realm, driven by expanded choices and heightened expectations. Today, customers not only compare us with competitors but also with their B2C experiences. This convergence of B2B and B2C in customer experience is a noteworthy trend.
In our industry, where access to media data has become increasingly prevalent, differentiation becomes paramount. While shiny platforms, analytics, and media evaluation practices hold significance, they alone are insufficient. The challenge isn’t merely making the initial sale but ensuring that customers return and renew their services. Maintaining control over the customer experience, comprehending customer dynamics, and delivering value are all imperative in today’s customer-centric environment.
Key aspects of the transition and evolution of customer experience
Several aspects of B2B and B2C overlap, offering opportunities for mutual learning and adaptation.
Emotion Matters: Over 95% of purchases, whether for a holiday or a software supplier, are driven by emotions. Brands such as Rolex and Harley Davidson sell experiences and status, not just products. In B2B, reputation and emotions significantly influence decision-making.
Digital vs. Human: Recent research reveals that 75% of B2B customers prefer a digital-first self-service approach with human support. While human interaction remains crucial, a combined digital and human experience is necessary to meet customer needs. Many B2B buyers favour digital channels, particularly for standardised services. We’re actively working on implementing digital tools to enhance the customer experience, such as database queries, self-help resources, and knowledge centres. The goal is to streamline interactions and enhance overall service quality.
Personalisation: Personalisation is equally vital in both B2B and B2C. In the B2C realm, brands like Zalando excel in offering personalised experiences. However, providing a personalised experience at scale is a challenge in B2B. While dedicated account managers are appreciated, there’s a risk of overdependence on individuals. To ensure consistency, consider using systems like HubSpot or Service Force, supported by AI, to maintain collective knowledge about customers. This fosters continuity and enhances the customer experience.
Value and Speed: In both B2B and B2C, customers seek value, but speed is equally crucial. Delayed value delivery can lead to dissatisfaction. Ensuring a swift transition from onboarding to activation is crucial. Having a dedicated onboarding team with knowledge and effective handover processes accelerates access to business value. Speed is a key component of customer satisfaction.
Our journey in understanding customer experience is ongoing. Being part of AMEC has enriched our experience by bringing us closer to the community and enabling us to meet customer expectations effectively.
What defines an ideal customer experience?
An ideal customer experience, in our view, is about being consistently excellent. It’s about maintaining continuity and avoiding drastic fluctuations in service quality. Customers prefer organisations that adopt an inside-out approach, ensuring that every interaction aligns with the business’s values. Establishing effective processes and systems is crucial for scaling and delivering exceptional service. We implemented a CRM and customer support centre right from the start, even with just one customer, as we aimed to grow our business. It was a significant investment, but it paid off tremendously.
How to ensure a smooth adoption of your service model within the team and among the customers?
In our onboarding process, we have one-on-one sessions with new team members to instil our business values, mission, and vision. We emphasise the importance of speaking the customer’s language and understanding their needs. We gather information about the customer’s team dynamics, pain points, and preferences, recording this in our systems for future reference. It’s crucial to maintain continuity and consistency in customer interactions, especially as the organisation grows. We encourage everyone in our organisation to care about the customer and align with our culture. Transparency and honesty are essential in all our interactions, whether it’s about using chatbots or addressing changing regulations.
How to balance self-service with managed service in your business?
We offer choice to customers by providing a self-service option while being clear about our boundaries in the digital experience. We’re not trying to compete with SaaS providers but focus on facilitating straightforward queries based on the data we’ve collected. Customers appreciate having the option to handle some tasks independently while relying on our consultancy team for more complex, value-added tasks. We believe in co-piloting technology like JNAR to enhance our services while maintaining a personal touch with our customers.
In conclusion, the evolving landscape of customer experience demands that B2B organisations draw inspiration from their B2C counterparts. Emotions, the blend of digital and human interaction, personalisation, value, and speed are all factors that transcend the boundaries between these two realms.
Now, I invite you to reflect: Which brand or company do you personally appreciate for the customer experience it provides? Your insights could offer valuable lessons for the future of customer-centric businesses.