We already know that customer service is an integral part of a successful business. A whopping 96% of customers admit that it’s a big factor in brand loyalty—and that makes perfect sense. Who’d want to stick with a company that doesn’t try to make their life easier? Still, it’s just a small piece of the overall puzzle. If customer service is cinnamon baked apples, then the customer experience is the whole, piping hot apple pie.
In the most basic definition, the customer experience (commonly referred to as CX) encompasses all of the interactions a customer has with your company throughout the entire customer journey—not just the queries they have before and after they make a purchase. It starts the moment they first find out about your brand (whether that’s through Google search, social media, or word of mouth) and extends well after they’ve eventually made a purchase.
Companies with a great customer experience tend to grow revenue at 4% to 8% higher than the rest of their market. That adds up, but it’s also not the only reason to invest. Here’s why customer experience should be a top priority.
B2B Buyers are Fed Up With the Traditional B2B Sales Cycle
The customer experience is all about communication. You’re showing your customers that you care by helping them with the things they care about. For B2B buyers, this typically includes:
- Solving marketing and communication issues
- Getting top-notch service for a competitive price
- Meeting timelines
Unfortunately, B2B buying cycles are notoriously long and complicated—and it’s only getting longer and more complicated. Back in 2017, 58% of buyers claimed their decision process was longer than the year prior, largely because they were doing more in-depth research, using more sources and working with larger teams. By 2019, 77% of B2B buyers felt that their last purchase was time-consuming and complicated. That hasn’t changed.
This has led the vast majority of B2B buyers to specifically seek a B2C experience, which is generally short and streamlined (i.e., an optimized customer experience). The truth is that B2B buyers don’t care about the fact that you’re working with a new subcontractor who may not be familiar with the process or that your company’s organizational chart puts certain parameters on the project. They just want quality work, within budget, that meets their deadlines, and they don’t want a hassle to achieve that.
Customer Experience Builds Strong Relationships
The old adage says that you get 80% of your business from just 20% of your customers. In other words, the B2B buyers who keep coming back, time and time again, are the ones largely responsible for your company’s long-term success. In this sense, the customer experience is key. Research has shown that 96% of people say the customer experience is important to brand loyalty.
The truth is that people do not stay loyal to a brand when they have a poor experience—whether that’s a clumsy checkout process, erroneous orders, a difficult-to-navigate website or poor customer service. Any hiccup is likely to shorten the amount of time you get to call them “customer.” The offending event could even be as innocuous as a one second page load delay. In fact, research has shown that just one second of a delay can result in a 7% drop in conversions. How is this possible? 70% of respondents to a survey published by Search Engine Journal claimed that page speed affects their decision to buy. It’s what customers care about.
Customer Experience Aids Customer-Focused Strategic Planning
Most companies look for what’s most profitable when providing recommendations to customers. It’s all about ROI, but so often, businesses fail to consider the most important thing: Is this actually right for the customer? As it turns out, what’s right for the customer is what’s right for the company—not the reverse. A rock-solid customer experience is the path forward.
The customer experience helps B2B businesses shift the narrative away from the immediate conversion and into customer-focused strategic planning, which can lead to increased revenue, stronger customer loyalty and even word-of-mouth referrals.
Creating a good customer experience is easier said than done, but it is worthwhile. In the world of B2B, there’s a lot to consider. You’re not just thinking about your customer; you’re thinking about your customer’s customer, and every single customer involved has a unique set of market, competitive and company circumstances. Understanding the insights of each will help determine which strategies and tactics will work best to maintain a customer and make a sale.
The Customer Experience Adds Real Value
At the end of the day, a positive customer experience leads to real, quantifiable value. B2B buyers are overwhelmingly willing to shell out for good service. In fact, a PWC survey found that 85% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience, and Forrester found that companies that lead in customer experience have customers that are:
- Seven times more likely to return
- Eight times more likely to try other products or services
- 15 times more likely to spread positive word of mouth
In other words, a great customer experience doesn’t just lead to conversions. It is also central to a successful marketing strategy. An excellent customer experience sells itself.