Despite the advances in customer data unification, personalization and seamless digital engagement that some vendors have made since the start of the pandemic, there’s still a big gap between expectations and reality in B2B relationships. According to a 2020 Salesforce survey of customers in more than 26 countries worldwide, 85% of B2B buyers expect the sales representatives they deal with to have a “firm understanding of their business,” but 57% of those same buyers say that sales reps “often lack adequate knowledge of their business.”
In particular, B2B software marketing requires intensive CX insight, management and development because your customers rely on your product to make their business work. That means they need responsive support that’s tailored to their needs, personalized for their experience with the product and aligned with their goals for using your software.
Understanding the customer’s business and how your product supports it is foundational to creating a great customer experience. The gap described in the Salesforce survey represents an opportunity for software vendors to earn loyalty and outcompete brands that don’t meet those expectations. Deloitte Digital reported in early 2021 that B2B leaders who focus on CX are “18% more likely to exceed revenue goals” than lagging competitors. Listening to your voice of customer insights and analyzing your product’s usage data can show you how your customers are using your solution, where they’re facing challenges and when they contact your support team for help.
Attract and retain customers with excellent CX
Combining data analysis with voice of customer insights can help you understand the customer’s business better and make quick, effective adjustments that create a better CX—one that’s good enough to drive loyalty and contract renewals. Deloitte Digital’s 2021 report on the B2B expectation gap found that B2B buyers are 34% more likely to buy from CX leaders and 32% more likely to renew those contracts, on average. The report also mentions four areas with the potential to improve CX: trust, empathy, timing of engagements and personalization.
Trust and empathy are major issues for B2B customers now. Salesforce found that 99% of customers surveyed in 2020 said companies needed to work on trustworthiness. Among those customers, 86% of B2B buyers said they expect “a trusted advisor relationship with sales reps” rather than just pitches for services and solutions. When buyers can’t get reliable advice tailored to their business needs or engage with reps who understand their business, they’re not going to trust those reps’ recommendations, and they’re going to keep looking for vendors who inspire trust. Training your team is critical here.
So is cultivating the habit of seeing through your customers’ eyes, to identify issues that may matter to customers even if they don’t mention them directly. For example, 65% of technology buyers consider data security when they make a software purchase, but only 28% of tech vendors said they’ve heard from their buyers about it, according to TrustRadius’ 2021 B2B Buying Disconnect report. Putting your team in the shoes of customers trying to secure a distributed workforce and protect them from fraud and malware can lead you to be proactive about addressing those customers’ needs.
Personalization and engagement preferences matter. Unifying customer and product data across channels is the first step to offering a personalized experience to your buyers. But there’s more to personalization than simply recommending solutions that track with customers’ profiles and behavior. TrustRadius found that 87% of B2B tech buyers want self-service options for at least some stages of the decision making and purchasing process, so they can engage how and when they want—something that Deloitte also recommends in its report.
Delivering personalized experiences when the customer wants them can make customers feel recognized, understood and supported, as long as the experience is consistent across the buying cycle. If a customer’s digital order is rejected by your company’s fraud-screening system, that breaks the sense of recognition and trust they have with your brand, and it creates inconvenience. In addition to manually reviewing flagged orders so they’re not automatically declined by your anti-fraud algorithm, you can, with your customers’ consent, combine your marketing and fraud prevention data to reduce the risk of false declines and maintain a consistent customer experience.
Leverage CX for growth
Cultivating trust and empathy, personalizing effectively and consistently recognizing your customers are the keys to giving your customers the experience they want and the results they need. Great CX creates a “virtuous cycle” in which your customers can operate and grow more efficiently, which can increase your revenue through increased customer lifetime value and lower cost to acquire new customers. As more customers use your solutions more effectively, you gain a bigger and more refined set of voice of customer insights and user analytics to fine-tune your CX even more. That can lead to more successes for your customers and for your business.