Customer experience is a major focus within the B2C world, but it’s also vitally important for B2B companies. As B2B customers become more digitally savvy, companies need to focus on digital transformation to ensure high-quality customized and real-time customer experiences.
Just like how modern customers expect customized B2C experiences, they also want the correct usage and adjustment of customer persona in B2B interactions.
B2B businesses have so many utilitarian value drivers such as sales, bidding, billing, and project management that go beyond experiential aspects of value. Simply put, B2B customers are different from traditional consumers of goods and services.
B2B companies typically sell complex products and services through a systematic purchase process involving multiple stakeholders. In terms of consumption, B2B cycles are long and complex, sometimes lasting several decades and involving hundreds of employees.
Considering these differences, B2B companies can satisfy their customers’ needs by developing customer-based competencies.
Bidding and Sales Process
Though consumers respond to displayed prices in stores, B2B customers typically go through an elaborate bidding and sales process. Customers evaluate the seller’s understanding of their need to provide accurate proposals and then evaluate the sales team’s competency.
Quality of Product and Service
Products and services in B2B can be complex, therefore, customers describe this competency as meeting performance specifications for the equipment and the service employees ranging from multiyear service contracts to complete power plants.
For B2B companies, quality of product and service is based on customers’ perceived performance of a company’s core offerings.
Billing and Pricing
This competency denotes customer perception of the extent to which a company’s pricing and billing processes are fair and competitive. This goes beyond low pricing. Respondents report that they don’t like companies that bid low and then create issues to change orders in order to jack up the price.
Also, issues with billing cause a lot of chaos and frustration among the customers as accounts payable have to go back over the billing because it is wrong about 50% of the time.
In B2B relationships, communication is a core component that can detract from perceived customer value when derailed. As a competency, communication represents the extent to which customers perceive the company as being receptive to appropriate and accurate information in a clear and timely manner.
Sustainability and Social Responsibility
Sustainability and social responsibility are not merely fads but critical elements of B2B customer value. They represent customer perception to an extent where a supplier voluntarily incorporates societal and stakeholder concerns in its value proposition.
Each of these competencies represents an element of the customer-driven value proposition. Functional competencies are needed to deliver the perceived value associated with these customer-based competencies. But they won’t be enough unless they can become inputs to delivering customer value.
When creating a transformational customer experience journey, B2B companies should put themselves in the shoes of their customers to see if they are getting an immersive solution that meets their needs, or if the company’s offerings are outdated.
By focusing on these five competencies, B2B firms can satisfy more than 70% of their customers’ needs. These competencies are integral predictors of sales and gross margins — even after statistically accounting for a variety of customer-relevant factors such as purchase amount and involvement, various company-relevant factors like firm size and firm risk, and industry-relevant factors, like industry competitiveness.
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