B2C businesses have better conversions than B2Bs for several reasons. But a smooth buying experience tops that list. And why not? Our lives have become more fast-paced than ever before, and we have a range of options to choose from. Did we mention the power of the internet in our hands to make researching for the perfect product exponentially easier?
With this much choice on hand and a sea of products offering similar features, a smooth, hassle-free customer experience becomes a major selling point, something which most B2B companies lack right now. Take a look for yourself. A whopping 77% of B2B buyers say their recent B2B purchase experience was tedious. What’s more, up to 80% of B2B buyers would readily change suppliers to have their expectations met. The message is clear. B2B buyers no longer want tedious long-drawn buyer journeys. They need a customer-centric experience that is dynamic and relevant, similar to B2C businesses.
Curious about the current trends in customer-centric experiences in the B2B space? Here are a few you cannot ignore.
1. Personalization Has Become an Important Part of the Buyer Experience
B2B customers want their buying experience personalized. And no, not just the ‘ You saw this, so here’s what you might like’ kind. They want a humanized and relevant buying experience too. The crutch? B2Bs have longer buyer journeys making it extremely difficult to stay relevant throughout the buying process.
So now, B2Bs are banking on customer data like behavioral data, content interactions, and more to provide contextual responses to customer interactions and drive engagement. In fact, many B2Bs are switching to automated technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence) to scrape granular customer data too.
It’s evident that B2B buyer journeys are being built on personalization now. And if you’re bucking the trend you are surely missing out.
2. B2B Businesses are Switching to Self-Service
Gone are the days when B2Bs needed marketing and sales executives to nudge buyers down the funnel through nurturing. About 87% of B2B buyers today want self-service during their buyer journey. This means the freedom to research and make purchase decisions without having a sales executive guiding them through it. Ergo B2B e-commerce!
Not sure what it means for B2Bs? Well, convenience throughout the buying process in the form of transparency when it comes to features and product details, a dedicated reviews section, a simple purchasing process, and more.
3. Engaging with Buyers in Real-Time is Becoming a Top Priority
B2B buyers want quick access to help without being guided through every step. While this is a fine balance, many B2Bs are shifting to technology to help buyers through their journey without being intrusive.
Many companies are experimenting with technology to identify behavioral cues of buyers to assist when they need it. What’s more, they are now offering 24*7 assistance too. How? All thanks to automation. Companies are using AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered chatbots to cater to basic questions and NLP (Natural Language Processing) to maintain a human touch to bot interactions. And not just that. They are using the tech to understand micro-level interactions to reliably measure customer satisfaction and anticipate needs to provide a seamless buying experience.
4. Use of Recommendation Engines to Suggest Related Services Is Rising
If you didn’t know, the ‘Products you might like’ section on e-commerce platforms are generated by a recommendation engine. This is a tried and tested method for product reselling and upselling. And B2Bs are using it too.
Like B2B companies listed on Amazon Business, companies will use AI-powered recommendation engines to offer cross-selling or upselling options to B2B buyers. This could look like a product suggestion from the product list more suited for a buyer’s needs or an integration option that could help the product perform better. Not only will this increase the value of an average order, but also enhance the customer experience.
5. B2Bs are Making it Easier to View Purchases
B2B retailers and service providers are making the buyer experience smoother for buyers by making it easier to build purchase lists. This might look like providing options to upload SKU lists, providing various filters buyers can toggle to locate their product of choice, autocomplete options, etc., to make B2B product shopping a hassle-free experience.
6. Multiple Payment Modes are Going Mainstream
Payments are undoubtedly a big part of the B2B buyer experience. And up to now, B2B companies have been offering selected payment modes in line with their convenience (read check). But that is changing now. Companies have realized the importance of payment flexibility to make the purchase experience smoother and are starting to offer different payment modes.
More B2Bs are offering credit card payment options despite their larger processing fees along with ACH payment, cash, wire transfers, and checks to stay relevant in the e-commerce era. The two main reasons for this- giving buyers multiple payment options and reducing the time required to access payments.
7. Consistent Experience across Devices Is Crucial
Over 60% of B2B buyers used a mobile device for their latest purchase. So, optimizing the B2B purchasing workflow for the desktop alone will no longer work. B2B buyers will need to focus on optimizing purchasing workflows for mobile too. The catch? The information required to make a purchase decision is vast for B2B products. Hence, B2Bs will have to prioritize what information to display while keeping the page design appealing and intuitive.
Sure, fine-tuning the UX and maintaining a consistent design style across devices will be hard. But the payoff will be a better buying experience and greater conversions too.
B2B companies are increasingly going the B2C route to provide customers with a seamless, meaningful, and fuss-free customer experience. Some companies are offering personalized buyer experiences, self-service, and providing B2C-type convenience at every step of the buyer journey already. However, most other businesses haven’t caught on to these trends yet. So, you could stay ahead of your competition by including some changes in your buyer workflow. The best part? These changes will help you take the buyer experience to the next level and get you better ROIs too.