A swipe of the finger and the deed is done, instant access to your goods and transportation through real-time tracking. How do these experiences compare to clunky desktop interfaces, call centers or automated phone systems? Customer experience innovations in the retail and business-to- consumer (B2C) market have increased expectations across the business-to-business (B2B) marketplace. Several industries, including Fintech and healthcare have led the charge. Now business-to-business (B2B) organizations are adopting technology solutions that improve the customer experience (CX) in order to drive growth.
B2B organizations can face greater challenges when making meaningful customer experience changes. As explained in the white paper, "Pairing Art & Science to Innovate on Customer Experience," the unique "B2B selling environment and process" itself causes this challenge, including:
- Extensive interactions that lengthen the buying cycle
- Multiple functional areas with competing priorities
- Industry alliances and partners that influence your customers
Business Customers are People, Too
B2B lags behind its B2C counterparts in customer experience in part because its interactions are necessarily more complex. As Peter Malamas explains in "What B2B Companies Can Learn from the B2C Customer Experience ," "B2B experiences are often designed to provide robust amounts of information and content to shepherd prospects and recommenders further into a complex, multi-stage sales funnel that spans across channels."
Customer expectations in B2B relationships will continue to rise. As TechTarget relates in its "Search Manufacturing ERP" blog, "Consumers' comfort level with technology-driven customer experiences in their personal lives has set the bar high for similar interactions with business-to- business transactions."
Making Nice While Making Goods
Manufacturing is an example of a B2B industry harnessing technology to improve the experience for their customers. Manufacturers increasingly view advanced CX as a necessary element of B2B transactions. Transitioning from a product-driven to an experience-driven firm poses multiple challenges. Manufacturers have set their sights on enhancing customer experience through the use of advanced technologies.
"Manufacturers increasingly view advanced CX as a necessary element of B2B transactions."
Traditionally product-driven organizations, manufacturers are beginning to shift towards becoming 'experience-driven' firms that offer both original equipment and aftermarket products and services. Experience-driven firms have a better chance at sustained growth because their approach is holistic, not just focused on one piece of the solution.
Forrester, which recently launched a B2B Tech Customer Industry Index, asserts that "great B2B customer experiences spring from a series of positive individual interactions." The additional touch points in today's B2B customer journey create additional opportunities to finesse CX. "The distribution channel is no longer the only touch point for customer engagement as e-commerce, mobile and social technologies open the door for manufacturers to engage directly with their clientele, many preferring that one-to- one interaction," TechTarget explains.
Technology Solutions for CX Interactions
Established and emerging technologies are enabling companies in the manufacturing sector to address new customer trends favorably with the ability to develop the experiences and outcomes customers are actively seeking.
Manufacturing Business Technology predicts that within the next several years, "leading manufacturers will be looking for a flexible ERP system that includes or easily integrates more customer-facing functions able to provide more timely information and that enable more collaboration."
As additional technology allows manufacturers to engineer their customer interactions, they will increasingly compete on the basis of customer engagement, not just product and price. Are you ready to lead in this customer-centric B2B landscape? Get the insight you need to reimagine your customer journey and transform your organization by contacting a Baker Tilly Growth Strategies Advisor today.