ignoring each other, on their phones
Are you missing opportunities to reconnect with your customers? PHOTO: Matthew G

Why is it that B2B customer experience (CX) ratings fall so far behind their equivalents in the B2C market? 

Global consulting firm McKinsey reports that B2C companies tend to receive satisfaction ratings between 65 and 85 percent. By contrast, B2B firms tend to receive approval ratings under 50 percent. 

Plan for the Uniqueness of B2B Selling

Perhaps the most obvious explanation is the sheer complexity of shaping a B2B CX effort. In a blog post last year discussing the methodology behind its newly-launched B2B Tech Customer Experience Index, research firm Forrester highlighted three major differences between CX in the B2B buying world compared with B2C consumers:

  1. The number of stakeholders involved is larger: Simply put, B2B buying decisions pass through many decision makers, increasing the chances of dissatisfaction at any step along the way.
  2. Different stakeholders become involved at different stages of the sale: Your customer-facing staff will encounter very different customer profiles with very different needs throughout the entire account lifecycle — from the savvy IT manager to non-technical end users. As a result, there are many more points where the customer experience can break down.
  3. Channel partners are often key to the sales effort: Because many B2B firms sell through channel partners, those partners can have a huge effect on how a B2B product is perceived and delivered, but also have silos and bottlenecks within their own organizations that must be taken into account.

Clearly, CX in the B2B world is much more complex than its counterpart in the consumer world. As you map your customer journeys, improve your various customer experience touchpoints and address your CX pain points — be they your website load time, the quality of your blogs or your social media presence — it’s also worth focusing on some of the more commonly overlooked CX touchpoints, too. 

5 Vital, but Overlooked CX Touchpoints 

Although some of these points may be more typically associated with the B2C customer experience, the notion of harnessing the power of personal relationships is also extremely relevant to the B2B space. 

Here’s a list of five important but often overlooked CX touchpoints that your B2B business can benefit from thinking about: 

1. The brand advocate touchpoint

Research has shown time and again that people trust other people more than they trust brands. That means that reliable, established and trustworthy individuals endorsing your product or brand, even in the B2B space, may be the best touchpoint your company can hope for. 

Of course, you can’t control a brand advocate in the same way you can control other aspects of marketing and sale. All the same, the ROI associated with cultivating brand advocates as a company touchpoint can be very significant. 

2. The upgrade touchpoint

Research has also shown new customer acquisition to be far less efficient and more expensive than retaining and upselling to existing clients. That’s why it probably makes sense to focus your B2B company’s energy on improving the quality of your upselling techniques. 

For example, if you sell software, sending timely, personalized and well-structured upgrade emails provides a crucial touchpoint for expanding and evangelizing your company’s products and solutions.

3. The invoice touchpoint

No customer gets excited about receiving an invoice. Unless the final total is less than expected, invoices will naturally induce negative emotions. This might just be a fact of doing business, but there are customer-oriented ways to limit the pain of receiving an invoice.

 You can turn this touchpoint into a less negative experience by making your invoices clear, transparent and easy to understand; using positive language, providing a range of payment options and including personalized suggestions about ways your customers can use your service more efficiently.

4. The marketing simplification touchpoint

Despite offering literally millions of products for sale, Amazon simplifies and adds value to the customer experience by making recommendations based on previous purchases. 

How can you mirror this in the B2B sector? Avoid giving people too many choices. It might sound counterintuitive, but in the world of B2B tech, we see countless companies that pack their websites with enormous lists of specialty products and services. 

Remember that when you advertise everything you do, you complicate the customer experience. Simplify your website navigation to create an upside-down funnel, where your high-level offerings come first and encourage visitors who are interested in specific topics to drill down for more detail.

5. The partner touchpoint

A final overlooked touchpoint is your channel partner relationships. Many companies sell their products through third-party vendors who, in effect, represent your brand.

Help your partners leverage your marketing messages by giving them access to useful content they can reuse when pitching your product. Provide them with appropriate training. Offer them the same outstanding customer support you would provide to your other customers and prospects. Don’t risk having your reputation tarnished by someone else’s mistakes. 

Stay Holistic to Keep Your CX Cutting-Edge 

In short, the importance of mapping your B2B customer touchpoints can’t be overemphasized. While it’s essential to cover the basics such as having a great website, readily available salespeople and a best-in-class customer support team — cutting-edge B2B companies also invest in email, mobile search, digital advertising and social media to create a holistic CX effort that truly stands out.