What experience B2B consumers expect out of brands?

Philipe da Silva
Philipe da Silva March 20, 2018
What experience B2B consumers expect out of brands?

The B2B e-commerce sales is prompted to soar to heights never seen before. According to a Forrester Research report released in 2017, in the United States, the direct sales will respond to up to US$ 1.2 trillion by 2021. In addition, analysts foresee that, by that year, e-commerce will account for nothing less than 13.1% of business-to-business transactions in America.

And if you’re still not convinced that B2B e-commerce sales are here to stay, a Frost & Sullivan’s report states that 69% of executives interviewed expect to stop printing a catalog within five years to rely exclusively on e-stores showroom to display their products and services.

We can say we’ve got a promising scenario ahead of us. The big question is: how brands and manufacturers are creating the digital relationship with B2B today’s buyers?

What changes in B2B search and shopping experience?

According to Gartner, B2B transactions are fast moving online, with more than 70% of these operations starting in a Google search. That can be explained by the fact that 50% of purchases are already done by millennials, individuals who have broad access to internet, hence they are a consumer who are more familiarized with online shopping than ever.

In addition, these consumers are less tolerant with poor experiences. If you do not meet their expectations, they will not think twice before moving to a competitor.

That said, we must ask ourselves: what does B2B customer success means now?

An omnichannel mindset

Digital transformation is certainly a thing for every industry. However, some companies choose to drive it through internal processes and systems rather than focusing on customer experience. This couldn’t be more wrong. A McKinsey report states that an average of two thirds of B2B buying process happen way earlier than the contact with a human employee. That means that is critical to offer a seamless cross-channel experience as buyers move across multiple platforms to gather the information they need.

And  when it comes to B2B, it goes far beyond simple information on offers, but also account information, administration preferences, payment terms, reports and post-sales customer services, if needed. Cloud platforms, such as Software as Service (SaaS), for example allow B2B businesses to integrate phone systems with other communications channels such as video, chat and mobile apps. That means, the same experience in whatever medium your customer chooses.

Personalization and Data analytics

The traditional B2B upselling processes used to involve the constant contact between the vendor and the customer. So, basically, by “feeling”, the sales rep would know what the customer wanted. That don’t need to be the case anymore. The digital purchase journey allows companies to gather a greater deal of data that can be useful to generate insights over consumer’s behavior, pointing to a trend that your company can take a big advantage of.

But that only happens if this data is properly leveraged. Luckily, integration capabilities that cloud solutions provide gives you advanced analytics and a better overview of your customer’s journey. Why is this so important? Well, vendors can, for example, use data to review specific customers’ interactions with the company’s store and mobile apps, adjust customer success processes, identify possible business threats and, most of all, new opportunities. This tailored approach should obviously provide a better overall experience for B2B customers.

Update constantly

Multiple market options can be a hell of a challenge when a company fail to deploy its updates quickly. A poor solution update mean that your customer is always ready to switch to your competitor at any time. In this sense, a continuous delivery platform can put your business back on the game as it makes the updates and deployments secure, agile and automated.

In addition, cloud solutions allow your business and IT team to test and scale the roll out of new features and services without hardware management costs. This flexibility permits a fast adjust to your customer base preferences, something that will increase loyalty and critically due to CRM strategies and campaigns.

For a B2B company, this provides greater stability and better development for your online operation without this causing problems in the browsing and shopping experience.

B2B buyers are far different from the traditional 80’s and 90’s. Armed with loads of data and programs to process it, they are more independent than ever. They are individuals who finish most part of their decision-making process before even considering contacting you and, when they finally do so, they expect to have a shopping experience tailored to their needs.

After all, the new B2B customer knows the importance of the data they leave during the journey and that is what makes them even more demanding. They can’t afford to waste time on the purchasing process when they need to focus on gathering information and reviews of how your product and your support will solve their problems aligned with their companies market strategies.