5 ways to delight B2B customers - even in 2020

All articles | Strategy
Published Nov 24, 2020 | Written by Osian Barnes

TBH -  ‘delight’ is not a word that many of us will associate with 2020.  As the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse put their feet up and let our politicians do their dirty work - there might be little cheer left on earth.  But delighting our customers right now is key to helping them navigate the new challenges and opportunities they’re encountering in the teeth of the pandemic.  And, actually, the latest research is showing digital might just be the light at the end of the tunnel for us all.

As lockdown and furlough have restructured jobs and presented us with new sales and operational challenges - digital has remained a powerful constant in all our lives.  Services and brand experiences have, more and more, migrated online, and this has been especially true in the B2B sector - where non-essential travel and real-world interaction has been heavily curtailed.

In fact, according to new research from McKinsey, 96% of B2B sales teams have fully or partially shifted to remote selling during the pandemic.

And the good news is that customers have been responding very favourably to this trend.

  • 65% of decision makers say the remote sales model is equally or even more effective than what they were doing before

While real life has become full of challenge and complexity, a frictionless digital, buying experience is clearly capable of delivering real customer delight and satisfaction. So much, so that McKinsey’s research found:

  • 96% of B2B buyers claim they would make a purchase in an end-to-end, digital self-serve model, with the vast majority very comfortable spending $50K or more online
  • 3 in 4 believe the new model is as effective or more so than before COVID-19 (for both existing customers and prospects)
  • Companies that provide ‘outstanding digital experiences’ are twice as likely to win new business as those who don’t
  • 88% of B2B decision makers expect the remote and digital model to stick around for the long run

In many ways the stars are aligning - as what the B2B customer wants right now - so do the organisations selling to them. To put it bluntly: quicker, more cost-effective service, global reach, and more ‘end to end’ online support.

So, what are the recommendations for enhanced and continuous improvement of the digital customer experiences?

Here are 5 ways to keep delivering digital customer delight

1. Focus on delivering speed, transparency and expertise across your sales and marketing channels

Be there to respond in real time wherever and whenever customers appear. Understand their needs quickly and efficiently - make sure you’re serving them relevant digital content that answers their questions in the most effective way. Tailored workflows, customer service automation with chat bots, smart content all can make for a seamless and compelling customer experiences that give us what we want - whenever we want it.

2. Optimise channels to give buyers more ease and convenience

Make sure all your channels are integrated, Support the frictionless hand off from one platform to another. Make it easy to find the content you need in whatever format you choose to browse. Maximise the opportunities for customers to take ‘the next step’ and engage with you more deeply when they need to.

3. Fix top buyer frustrations

Take a good hard look at your website. Where can you make life easier for your visitors? Where are the friction points that halt the customer journey? Where can you make transitions more seamless? What are the sales qualification and purchase paths that you can automate or transform?

4. Offer the human touch, too

Automation delivers huge benefits and it's getting more sophisticated at predicting needs and delighting customers. But face to face is important. McKinsey found that when it comes to distance selling, videoconference connections are critical and are preferred over audio/phone by 75% of B2B buyers. Integrate the personal, human touch into your buyer’s journey at just the right moment, for maximum return.

5. Remap your customer journeys

Focus on where there are issues and opportunities to delight presented by ’the new normal’.

For example, site visits were once critical for contract manufacturers. Now factory visits are being replaced by interactive, virtual tours. Delivering these via digital can be even more immersive than a physical trip, with data and information overlaid on the picture - and the opportunity to see machinery and processes at work, up close.  Finding moments like this to tighten up on a customer journey, to make it rewarding and educative is highly recommended.

Delighting your prospects is a critical part of successfully guiding them through the buyers’ journey and towards your solution.  And all the evidence says that in the B2B world digital has achieved a new level of acceptance and importance as a research and buying tool.

Customers want more of it, and B2B companies want to lever its benefits to achieve faster brand growth and deeper reach.

“The dramatic increase in digital adoption presents a seminal opportunity for B2B organisations. The shift to virtual sales can help sales organisations lower their cost per visit, extend their reach, and significantly improve sales effectiveness—while delighting customers who are demanding these new ways of interacting stick long term and who are likely to reward suppliers that do it well”

But ‘doing it well’ really remains the tricky bit. Finding that balance between the  efficiency, agility and personalisation that can delight and direct customers more intuitively towards a sale - is no mean feat.

And to achieve that, what you really need, is a plan...

Published by Osian Barnes November 24, 2020
Osian Barnes