Rising customer expectations are a way of life for B2B marketers. Everything that goes into the process of buying a product or service matters. Whether a customer returns or refers you to others depends on their customer experience.
Backing that is an Accenture study where 79% of B2B executives were convinced the customer experience they provide has a direct effect on business results while 78% believed it provides a competitive advantage.
It’s great to believe in, but it’s another thing to actually achieve a memorable customer experience. The same study stated only 23% of these B2B marketers thought they were doing an effective job. A B2B International study found even fewer executives (14%) who believed they were winning at their customer experience efforts.
Herein lies the dilemma: How can B2B marketers be successful at the customer experience? Here’s four tips:
View the customer experience from back to front. Most companies think it’s only about forward-facing personnel and processes, but the back end has a huge part to play. Think of it as a theater performance. If you put everything into the actors but nothing into the scenery, costumes, lighting and music, there’s not much for the audience to engage with and no real experience. Therefore, you need to assess what you can be doing behind the scenes to enhance the effect you deliver through your website and other marketing channels (developers, designers, and content writers), your visit to their company (sales staff, technologists, and marketers), or your marketing collateral (brochures, catalogs and pricing sheets.)
Leverage new marketing technology to deepen marketing automation and personalization. Although the B2B customer experience is more about building relationships, you still need to look to marketing technology that automates much of the process for you. This gives you more time to work on the human dynamic and engagement process with each company. The key is to find the technology solution that is best suited to enable customer experience initiatives and can deliver the targeting and segmentation required for success.
Maintain offline channels. Traditional marketing capabilities still matter because not every consumer and business is solely shopping in the digital world. Even if they do shop online, there will be situations where you will also meet them in person or where they will come across your brand in their daily lives. Here is where training and a focus on social engagement techniques can make a significant difference in how a customer perceives their experience with you.
Focus on addressing business pain points. Imagine how your business customers will feel when they discover you know exactly what hurts and how you can alleviate that pain for them. If you can craft your marketing messages and follow up with delivering on those promises, you create a memorable experience where they see you as offering care, convenience, and the necessary prescription for what ails them. The next pain point that comes along, you can count on them making an appointment with you.
Kevin Akeroyd is general manager and senior vice president of Oracle Marketing Cloud.
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