A new Salesforce report shines a light on the connected customer and it’s a trend business need to pay close attention to in the B2B space, where 82% of buyers expect the same personalised services as they experience in their personal capacities, and then some.
Customer experience matters – a lot. This is a clear take away from Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report. The report dives deep into this topic, identifying several aspects of the transition into customer-centric business models.
The main revelations find that customer expectations are hitting all-time highs, companies face a new connected mandate, technology is setting the benchmark for innovation, and customers are balancing personalisation and privacy.
It is a free report to download and well worth reading. But there is one specific trend that deserves to be highlighted more: the impact of customer-centricity on B2B (business to business) transactions. It’s often assumed that B2B sales and relationships are not the same as in the Business to Customer (B2C) world. But the trends are contradicting such assumptions:
“The argument about customer-centricity being central to business success is being won by the data,” said Sean Pyott, MD of thryve, a Salesforce partner. “95 percent of surveyed customers said they are more likely to be loyal to a company that they trust. The key word there is trust: to earn trust, a business must be reliable, consistent and aligned to its customers. So trust is all about creating good customer centricity. This is not an opinion, but fact: 80 percent of customers also said the experience they are provided with is as important as the products and services they receive.”
B2B customer centricity
This mood among customers is why technology platforms are becoming crucial to modern businesses. Such platforms can create a lot of efficiencies, but their major appeal is how they increase the business’ speed. Everything – from supply-chain management to omnichannel engagements to 360 customer profiles accessible at various touch points – is made possible because of platforms such as Salesforce.
Some though might be surprised that these expectations are also growing among business customers. Unlike ‘classic’ customers, who tend to buy for their personal needs and in small quantities, the B2B world is full of representatives and large orders. In the past that has allowed for some distinction between the experiences the two groups expect. Yet as customers – personal and business – became more connected, their appetites for better customer-centric service grew.
76 percent of customers expect their needs and expectations to be understood. This is actually more poignant for B2B transactions, which can be complex and are almost always lucrative for the seller thus creating fertile soil for higher expectations from business customers.
Business buyers are very serious about this:
- 82% of business buyers want the same experience as when they’re buying for themselves,
- 84% cite trust as a critical factor in choosing vendors,
- 72 % expect vendors to personalize engagement to their needs,
- 69% expect Amazon-like buying experiences,
- 67% think vendors are providing more retail-like experiences than ever before, and
- 67% have switched vendors for a more consumer-like experience.
If you compare B2C and B2B consumers, the latter respond better to user-generated content, personalised offers, personalised communications and retargeted offers. It is clear that B2B customers want to be appreciated and valued in ways that fit their purchasing muscle.
That has always been the case, hence why top reps are assigned to large business accounts and keep the customer happy. But technology is allowing for much faster and smoother transactions across the board. It is no longer just the big spenders who can demand such personal touches, but increasingly all types of B2B customers.
“I think the takeaways from the report are clear,” said Riaan Bekker, Force Solutions Manager at thryve. “Customers of every kind know that they can expect better, faster and more personalized services, made possible by integrated systems that support the various channels. Blame Amazon for that – it is one of the companies that showed the world how potent this can be. If a business still asks why it should modernise, this explains it all. It’s about an expectation in the market that was created in a connected world. Very few can swim against that tide and not drown.”
In fact, the further you follow the trend, the clearer that expectation from B2B customers becomes: