The division between the B2B market and the B2C used to be apparent but the distinctions are now blurring with the advancement of technology and the increasing demands from customers.
Customer Experience is at the top of the agenda of every company at present, regardless whether they are B2B or B2C. After all the B2B person is also a consumer. The consumerisation of technology has created demanding customers in both sectors with high expectations of a superior service, price and customer experience. Competition has never been fiercer.
B2B Catching up with B2C
The ecommerce market is forecast to reach 1.13 trillion $ in the US by 2020 and B2B companies are refocusing their customer strategies to catch up with the high standard of eCommerce that B2C has set.
The digital storm is forcing businesses to keep up with consumer expectations and they are implementing technology to improve business processes and customer services. Businesses are deploying multi-media contact centres and presenting customers with the omni-channel so they have a choice on how to contact the business whether it is by: phone, email, web chat, video etc. It is no longer a nice to have but critical to delivering a superior customer service.
Forrester estimates that in the US B2B ecommerce will grow from $855 billion in 2016 to $1.13 trillion by 2020.
The Right Tools
The right technology helps businesses create a compelling customer experience. By having a robust and resiliant infrastructure whether it is on-premise, hosted in the cloud, or hybrid, businesses can access the latest communications technology to communicate more efficiently and effectively with their customers.
Web Real Time Communications (WebRTC) is a disruptive technology that analysts predict will be used by 60% of the global internet population by 2019; 1.2 billion people. WebRTC is a real-time browser based application for real time communications such as voice and video calls, instant messages, file sharing and URL tracking and all without the need to download software plugins. This enables contact centre agents to communicate in real time, deliver a personalised service, increase cross-sell / up-sell and first time resolution rate. Companies can be assured that communications and access are completely secure as the technology requires permission from the user to allow the use of microphone and camera.
The Omni-channel is not just prevalent in the B2C world but very much present in the B2B arena as well. The customer is now well and truly king.
Customers want not only to choose the way that they contact a business whether it is by phone, webchat, instant message or text, but also to have a joined up experience, one where they don’t have to repeat themselves multiple times and start the conversation all over again via a different channel.
Businesses must provide the choice of communications and remove the silos between the different communications methods. Unified communications can augment the customer’s journey and back-office communications, while a multi-media contact centre will improve customer service and margins.
Although some lines of distinction between B2B and B2C are blurring there are still some that are very much widespread.
Consistent customer experience is vital in a B2B environment where sales cycles are longer. The products/solutions are often more complex than B2C, with a greater number of people involved in the process. Businesses are not just targeting a single customer they are targeting various people in the decision-making unit (DMU) and complexity of the DMU is dependent upon the product/solution.
Relationships need to be forged and it takes longer to build up strong relationships with the circle of influence. Customers and businesses need to be able to form a bond and relationship based on trust and reliance.
Today, third parties, in our case unified communication solution providers, are now viewed as strategic partners and not just suppliers. We work closely with the customer to discover their technology needs and work together to meet the customer’s business objectives. It is about working as a team together in a partnership and not simply a supplier.
The sales process from prospecting through to closing the sale is a lengthy process. Whereas in B2C there is often too much information to sift through, in B2B you must ensure that the information presented is relevant, informative and engaging. This is achieved through a plethora of communication tools and methods such as: seminars, campaigns and face to face meetings. Building on each touchpoint and educating, and updating on a consistent basis to ensure you are engaging and adding value.
Buyers in B2B are generally different to the buyers of B2C. The B2B buyer is less emotional and tends to more logical and rational, focusing on what benefits the product or solution will deliver, and what return on investment they will receive.
However, the B2B buyer is more accountable when they make a purchase as they don’t want to damage their or the company’s reputation through the purchase of an unreliable and poor quality product/solution that will not deliver the results. Aside from the product functionality, trust, reliability and security are fundamental to the sales process, the delivery and the customer care.
To deliver a strong B2B customer experience companies need to invest in a digital transformation strategy that includes eCommerce if necessary, deploying technology to improve customer services and business processes. By working closely with a trusted solutions provider to fully understand their needs, the appropriate technology can be put in place to help them achieve their objectives and produce results.
B2B businesses need to continue to build trust and develop relationships with their customers so they can consistently deliver a superior service, add value and differentiate themselves from the competition.