MBA.co.za Home

An MBA OverviewChoosing the right MBAApplying for your MBAMBA School DirectoryMBA PerspectivesMBA ResourcesMBA News & EventsMBA Summit

NEWS
First woman at USB to obtain sought-after research rating
First woman at USB to obtain sought-after research rating

Learning, leading and listening
Learning, leading and listening

Giving initiative a chance to grow
Giving initiative a chance to grow

Clamping down on SA’s economic problems
Clamping down on SA’s economic problems

We need to herald a new era of collaboration
We need to herald a new era of collaboration

Ratings cuts bad news for SA
Ratings cuts bad news for SA

A 101 guide to launching a tech startup as a woman
A 101 guide to launching a tech startup as a woman

Henley confers record number of degrees and diplomas
Henley confers record number of degrees and diplomas

Henley confers record number of degrees and diplomas
Henley confers record number of degrees and diplomas

Covid-19 is changing where we work and what we do
Covid-19 is changing where we work and what we do

What 12000 employees have to say about future of Remote Work
What 12000 employees have to say about future of Remote Work

How to be a Blue Ocean strategist in the post-pandemic world
How to be a Blue Ocean strategist in the post-pandemic world

6 ways to rewire your business now
6 ways to rewire your business now

Africa's ecommerce portal goes live
Africa's ecommerce portal goes live

Developing skills to manage Africa’s energy transition
Developing skills to manage Africa’s energy transition

An alternative economic strategy for South Africa
An alternative economic strategy for South Africa

Growth plan and structural reforms need to be implemented
Growth plan and structural reforms need to be implemented

Leaders are not born or made, they are honed
Leaders are not born or made, they are honed

The world ahead and the one we left behind
The world ahead and the one we left behind

USB appoints new Director
USB appoints new Director

USB offers relief on certain programmes
USB offers relief on certain programmes

International recognition for UCT GSB researchers
International recognition for UCT GSB researchers

Creating hope, one module at a time
Creating hope, one module at a time

Which curve to flatten: Coronavirus vs economic growth?
Which curve to flatten: Coronavirus vs economic growth?

Henley Africa MBA student named SA Journalist of the Year
Henley Africa MBA student named SA Journalist of the Year

GIBS appoints new Entrepreneur-in-Residence
GIBS appoints new Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Clamping down on SA’s economic problems
Clamping down on SA’s economic problems

Future still bright for new MBAs
Future still bright for new MBAs

What’s wrong with leadership training?
What’s wrong with leadership training?

CEOs reflect on leadership in perilous times
CEOs reflect on leadership in perilous times

Enabler or victim? KPMG SA and State Capture
Enabler or victim? KPMG SA and State Capture

Do wealthy people deserve to be rich?
Do wealthy people deserve to be rich?

Funders are not seeing the big picture in South Africa
Funders are not seeing the big picture in South Africa

What will the world look like in 2030?
What will the world look like in 2030?

Don't just look into the future: script it
Don't just look into the future: script it

Flexible working causing company culture concerns
Flexible working causing company culture concerns

Which matters more: hiring superstars, or removing toxic employees
Which matters more: hiring superstars, or removing toxic employees

Is strategy a false prophet?
Is strategy a false prophet?

Customer experience in B2B marketing
Customer experience in B2B marketing

How to sell when you can't meet with your clients
How to sell when you can't meet with your clients

Developing ethical leaders for the common good
Developing ethical leaders for the common good

How Netflix finds innovation on the edge of chaos
How Netflix finds innovation on the edge of chaos

GIBS/TWIMS MBA Manufacturing Ambassador Scholarship
GIBS/TWIMS MBA Manufacturing Ambassador Scholarship




29 OCTOBER 2020
Customer experience in B2B marketing
by Claire Denham-Dyson
In B2B marketing, creating a seamless customer experience can be a key differentiator or justification for a premium. Just how many brands get this right is unknown.

In many B2B environments, products and pricing are similar. Most providers have similar or the same offerings, and they don’t differ too much on price. So, what makes people stay with one provider or move to a new one when they are unhappy?

Competing on experience

All B2B customer experience comes down to meeting the expectations that you and your customer have jointly set. Very often, these expectations aren’t about the actual thing we are selling.

The functionalities of a B2B product or solution are the basis of the expectation – customers expect your product or offering to do what it says it does.

B2B customers, who are typically notoriously good researchers, will consider you if you meet their basic functional needs – whether the enterprise resource planning system has a module for warehousing, for example; or whether they need to have a single-sign on point for their finance team.

The other stuff, the lesser-loved but well-known “experiential” stuff, is where the rubber hits the road. This is the feeling your customers get when the banking portal has crashed, and they have logged a call with a call centre. That feeling of dread – or relief – is your customer experience.

Not customer service

You might be thinking you have awesome customer service so your customer experience is probably great. But customer service is only one part of the customer experience equation. B2B customer experience is the entirety of all touchpoints along the engagement chain – from pre- to post-purchase. You can have the best customer service team in the world, but one bad experience with a user-unfriendly interface or snappy receptionist can bring the whole positive experience crashing down.

When we set expectations for our B2B clients, they hold onto them like gold. These are our promises – the things that we will (or should) fall on our proverbial sword for.

If the client has incredibly high expectations of the company they deal with from an initial experience with one touchpoint (be that a salesperson, online interface or yearly meeting with the CEO) the client will expect the same or better of all other aspects of your business and their experience.

Ultimately, the B2B customer experience is how well the expectations of the customer are met and managed at each touchpoint.

Meeting and managing expectations

These expectations are often made in times of success or crisis. An example: a salesperson wins a big account (a time of success). The sell is a two-year process and takes a wealth of hard work from the salesperson. The salesperson works directly with the customer management team, answers calls after hours, and even speaks to the product team to make sure the solution is fit for purpose.

Once the sale is over the line, the account is handed over to the service team. Because this team knows very little about the journey the customer has taken to get there, they treat the customer like everyone else. They log the customer’s calls and manage them in the way they have been trained to – fairly and in a helpful but unemotional manner.

Suddenly, it’s six months later and the big client is unhappy. The solution is fraught with bugs and the customer service team is “lax”. The salesperson is pulling their hair out – the internal team is letting them down! The customer is disappointed but can’t pull their account because they signed a five-year contract. The customer service team is irritated with the salesperson – why do they keep selling solutions with so many customisations? Why does the customer keep phoning them after working hours to discuss issues?

In the end, everyone is unhappy. In an effort to get a handle on everything, the CEOs sit down for a discussion on the way forward. And just like that (at a time of crisis), a set of new customer expectations is generated.

Communication is, of course, key. If the expectations of the customer had been relayed throughout the organisation and managed from a capacity point of view upfront, the customer experience would have been very different.

Sales and marketing … and the rest of the world

In B2B we often talk about the gap between sales and marketing, but what about the rest of the organisation? What about the gap between the product team and the sales teams? And the executive and the service team?

The cavernous holes that exist in organisations (which we often call “silos”) are the biggest threat to customer experience. They are the holes in our customer experience. If we managed that upfront, though, we may never sell a product.

This is why we tend to be our own worst enemies – we both can’t and won’t manage expectations honestly. We avoid looking at our customer experience because it may mean shifting our operational model. It may mean trying to genuinely understand why the billing team don’t like the service team. It’s uncomfortable.

But here’s the hitch. As B2B organisations we don’t have much of a choice. If we want to win at customer experience, we need to ask ourselves what expectations we are willing to manage externally, versus the ones we meet internally.

My customer experience

One of the keys to a great B2B customer experience is allowing the customer to feel like they are part of creating it. Many B2B customers will value those transactions that go beyond everyday support and seek to build a partnership. A common saying in the B2B community is that “it’s all about the relationship”.

These “relationship dynamics” often involve creating the kind of experience your customer wants, on a personal level. This may mean more regular calls to check in, or once-a-year roundtables. Whatever this looks like, if the customer feels as though their expectations are honestly managed, and then accurately met, you’ll have a happy client.

While customer experience hasn’t overhauled the world of B2B just yet, it is coming. After all, our buyers are human beings using Uber and Airbnb. Expectation transfer from B2C to B2B is inevitable. Will you wait to meet that expectation – or will you lead it?

Claire Denham-Dyson is head anthropologist at Demographica.
Source:

The Red Zone
The Red Zone is a marketing and media website featuring breaking news from the industry as well as insightful opinion pieces and up to the minute event coverage. Visit our website.

Share: Facebook
Facebook Twitter
Twitter LinkedIn
LinkedIn Email
Email
Share
Other Print
Print Newsletter
Newsletter


About MBA.co.zaMBA NewsletterTerms of UseContact Us