The Futurum Group's Statement on Israel

Delivering a Great B2B Customer Experience

Providing an excellent CX has become a point of focus for business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations, across a wide range of industries, from airlines and retail to utility companies. The focus on B2C customers makes sense; today’s consumers can quickly and easily share their praise or score with millions of people via social media and the internet. McKinsey & Company found that B2C companies’ typical CX scores fall between 65% and 85%, reflecting the acknowledgment among product and service providers that CX is a core focus of their strategy. However, McKinsey found that business-to-business (B2B) companies average CX scores of less than 50%, indicating a need for businesses that serve other businesses to incorporate similar CX practices.

After all, while B2B companies have professional buyers, these roles are still filled by humans who have become accustomed to personalized, efficient, and on-demand customer experiences in their personal lives and are increasingly demanding a similar experience in their jobs. Ultimately, the concepts and principles of delivering an excellent B2B CX are like those deployed in a B2C world, albeit with different priority sets, customer goals, and purchasing processes.

Two of the most important interrelated CX principles today are speed and efficiency. As consumers have become accustomed to services such as same-day delivery, instant downloads, and real-time status updates, businesses have had to adapt their own processes and procedures to accommodate these service changes.

One way to speed up interactions is to offer a 24/7 self-service platform to handle product research, inventory availability, and ordering, along with invoice management, fulfilment, and delivery management. Providing customers with an efficient, automated process to handle straightforward ordering allows them to complete the process at their convenience, usually more quickly and efficiently than speaking or interacting with a representative. Furthermore, it frees up sales and customer service representatives to handle customer questions and inquiries, as well as focus on more meaningful, relationship-building interactions, such as customer check-ins.

Another technique to improve efficiency is connecting relevant order and payment systems, including the e-commerce platform, enterprise resource planning (ERP), invoicing and payment, and delivery. Ensuring that these tools can work in concert with each other will allow a company to deliver a fast and streamlined CX across the purchasing lifecycle.

Speed, however, must be complemented with easy-to-use interfaces and processes. Customers, particularly time- and resource-strapped business purchasers, will not tolerate a confusing or hard-to-navigate website, e-store, or portal. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the steps from selection to purchase are minimal, and that the purchase process is tailored toward business users, such as offering line-item purchase orders or reference numbers, or incorporating multiple shipping addresses on a single order.

Another key technique that can be deployed for business customers is augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). These technologies can help customers virtually identify the products they need, and, depending on the industry, virtually test-fit products before they are purchased and delivered. For example, an automobile repair shop could quickly check whether an aftermarket part is a suitable replacement for an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) part, by digitally “fitting” the part inside a virtual model.

Perhaps the most important aspect of delivering a good CX to business customers is ensuring that both individual purchasers and the larger division or company’s past purchases, interactions, and issues are easily accessible by both the customer and the live agent, portal, or automated bot. B2B buying processes are often more complex than consumer purchase processes, due to the presence of multiple different buyer personas involved at each stage of the process, which can involve multiple channels to be used during the research, selection, approval, payment, and fulfilment steps. Furthermore, specific controls, such as customer-established purchase rules or guidelines, should be noted and incorporated into each persona to make it easier for customers to monitor and control spending.

It is also important that each business CX journey is relevant and as personalized as possible. Business purchase processes are varied, so the purchase experience should be tailored toward each type of business, if not to specific customers, to ensure the best possible CX. This can include providing recommendations based on past purchases or on purchases made by similar customer types. Offer customizable order forms, or provide proactive calls or messages throughout the year to provide product support or general education on products, product trends, or larger business trends occurring in the market that may impact the company’s purchasing activities. Ultimately, B2B customers may be making purchases on behalf of their businesses, but they are still people, with feelings, emotions, and needs that impact their decision making. Demonstrating that their feedback is valuable and impacts the way services and products are provided to them can go a long way in building meaningful, lasting business relationships, increasing loyalty, satisfaction, and revenue.

Author Information

Keith has over 25 years of experience in research, marketing, and consulting-based fields.

He has authored in-depth reports and market forecast studies covering artificial intelligence, biometrics, data analytics, robotics, high performance computing, and quantum computing, with a specific focus on the use of these technologies within large enterprise organizations and SMBs. He has also established strong working relationships with the international technology vendor community and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and events.

In his career as a financial and technology journalist he has written for national and trade publications, including BusinessWeek,, Investment Dealers’ Digest, The Red Herring, The Communications of the ACM, and Mobile Computing & Communications, among others.

He is a member of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP).

Keith holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Magazine Journalism and Sociology from Syracuse University.


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