An increasing number of B2B industry leaders are using digitization to promote a customer-centric culture and solve pain points in the B2B buyer lifecycle
In this article, we’ll take a look at the biggest challenges companies face when delivering customer experience. We’ll explore how technology works to catapult organisations from a fractured approach to customer experience to an integrated revenue-generation model, enabled by harmonious alignment across the entire company for a truly customer-centric B2B experience.
The challenges we’ll solve using digital tools are:
- Fractured communication processes and siloed teams
- Difficulty in proving ROI of customer experience initiatives to maintain c-suite buy-in
- The complexities of a long B2B buyer cycle and how to pro-actively respond to customer needs at opportune interaction points, both online and offline
The challenge: Fractured communication processes and siloed teams
THE SOLUTION: CRM AND AUTOMATION SYSTEMS ENFORCE ALIGNMENT BETWEEN MARKETING AND SALES
Barriers between marketing and sales teams and a lack of structured, closed-loop communication processes are common hurdles faced by companies trying to drive customer-centric strategies.
To unleash the full potential of these two teams, it is crucial that companies set up processes that help align marketing and sales goals. They must coordinate efforts to improve company-customer interactions and ensure that both teams have access to the same data insights. These strategies will enable a shift towards an integrated revenue-generation model with marketing and sales teams working seamlessly to optimise the path to purchase – and keep B2B customers happy.
According to research by Forrester, B2B marketers who implement marketing automation
increase their sales-pipeline contribution by 10%.
Marketing automation tools are engineered to better serve customers by enhancing productivity between teams: creating common processes and increasing transparency. They help companies understand and simplify the handling of complex sales cycles and improve efficiencies by providing a single platform for teams to manage customer interactions.
Marketing automation and Client Relationship Management (CRM) tools work hand-in-hand to achieve efficient workflows. Combined, the advantages of these systems are numerous, and include:
- More effective lead generation strategies.
- Better insight into campaign performance allowing quicker optimization.
- Reduction in lag time for orchestrating responses to internal or external needs.
What’s more, automation systems enforce valuable communication between marketing and sales. For example, lead nurturing can be automated with email campaigns based on trigger-events or predefined rules. These campaigns can be personalised with dynamic content to help drive conversion while minimizing customer frustration brought on by irrelevant marketing ‘noise’.
One of the biggest challenges faced by organisations looking to improve customer experience is understanding and reacting to the sales cycle. Automation solutions help teams track interactions at each point of the buyer process, and update information in real-time, to ensure that decisions are based on accurate and relevant insights. This helps marketing teams qualify leads and nurture them before they get passed to the sales team. It also helps companies assess the performance of their campaigns, establish marketing accountability and ensure effective resource allocation. Keep reading to find out how B2B companies can improve their measurement of marketing performance.
Almost 70% of B2B marketers who successful improve contribution to their revenue
from their teams do so by scoring leads according to content and their engagement.
The Challenge: Difficulty in proving ROI of customer experience initiatives to maintain c-suite buy-in
THE SOLUTION: USE ANALYTICS AND BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE TOOLS TO LINK CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE DATA WITH OPERATIONAL DATA
In modern-day markets, where the name of the game is customer-centricity, few company leaders doubt the competitive advantage gained by offering good customer experience. But without being able to prove the value of marketing or UX campaigns, marketing teams will struggle to secure long-term buy-in.
It is therefore crucial that marketers build a solid link between value creation and customer satisfaction to facilitate future investment and ensure they can continue to compete on customer experience.
To do so, metrics must be put in place to analyze the different types of customer behaviour and the types of engagement that create value for the business (read our recent article on measuring customer experience for a guide on how to link the UX to value).
These measures must then be analyzed alongside operational data. This helps marketers focus their campaigns on areas that have been identified as likely to generate the biggest positive impact on financial performance of the company. This is even more critical to accelerate the sales cycle and increase customer retention rates for B2B models, where the path to purchase tends to be longer and the potential lifetime value of a customer tends to be higher.
The Challenge: The complexities of a long B2B buyer cycle and how to pro-actively respond to customer needs at opportune interaction points, both online and offline
THE SOLUTION: UNDERSTAND YOUR CUSTOMERS’ NEEDS AND PRO-ACTIVELY RESPOND TO THEM AT OPPORTUNE INTERACTION POINTS, BOTH ONLINE AND OFFLINE
Industry leaders have long understood that delivering great customer experience gives them an edge over their competitors. Considering the greater stakes in the B2B space, such as higher acquisition costs and longer paths to purchase, understanding customers is critical to meet growing expectations by B2B purchasing decision-makers.
Companies should lay down strong foundations in client service, whether that’s adding value for the client during the brand-discovery phase (for example, by training sales reps to identify and provide solutions to customer problems rather than try and push sales) or ensuring speedy post-purchase support. Compared with B2C companies, B2B journeys are characterized by a more complicated decision-making process that involves several levels of decision-makers. In addition, these journeys tend to differ substantially between different customer segments, depending on their needs. For example, some B2B organisations offer customizable solutions which require a lengthy consultation process.
Two-thirds of B2B buyers prefer to conduct research online
than risk having to interact with pushy sales reps.
By using data tools to accurately map out journeys for different customer segments, companies can focus their sales and marketing strategy on providing rich, useful content that meets client needs. Content strategies should be adapted to different stages of the marketing funnel. For example, audiences at early stages of brand discovery would find value in online tools that help them identify products or services most suited to their needs. In contrast, consumers who have already made purchases would make best use of a comprehensive after-sales support portal with FAQs and guides for best practices for product use.
These three use cases for technology in solving UX for B2B organisations are just the beginning of how digital tools help shape customer-centric business models.
At IMS, our teams have proven experience in:
- Building chatbots that allow businesses to connect with customers at any time, at their convenience;
- Developing algorithms to identify opportunities in the B2B sales cycle to pro-actively offer after-sales support and maintenance, when it’s most needed;
- Architecting online solutions, such as dynamic knowledge portals, to facilitate communication with B2B buyers;
- Personalising marketing journeys using trigger-based events and split-decision journeys.
If you are interested in exploring how technology can transform your business, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a response within 48 hours.
About the Author
Manuela leads the Marketing division at IMS, advising clients on branding and market positioning in both Europe and Asia.
Prior to joining IMS, Manuela worked in financial regulation and compliance. Past experiences include representing France in roundtable discussions in Brussels for the European Venture Capital Fund (EuVECA) Regulation.
She obtained her LL.B (Hons) at UCL before graduating from Sciences-Po, Paris, with a Master’s in Financial Regulation.
Connect with Manuela Burki on LinkedIn