Having a great product or service is a good start, but it’s not enough to keep your audience engaged in today’s competitive digital marketplace. For your business to survive, you need a great digital customer experience to add to your product. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before B2B consumers start flocking to competitors in your industry who understand the importance of on-site interaction.
Specifically, there are five key reasons that confirm this mindset in the world of online B2B retailing. To ensure that you’re always making the most of your web-based opportunities, join us as we look at these five reasons why enterprise B2B companies simply can’t survive without a great digital experience.
Reason #1: Digital and Omni-Channel Experiences Are Blurring the Physical and Virtual World
There’s no better way to start this discussion than by pointing out that the world is growing more digitally oriented as we continue to evolve. As the team over at Statista explains, the number of worldwide Internet users has hit 3.17 billion – up from 2.94 billion in 2014.
“For the first time, more than one-quarter of the global population will use smartphones in 2015, and by 2018, eMarketer estimates, over one-third of consumers worldwide, or more than 2.56 billion people, will do so,” says eMarketer, an American market research company.
In the same study, eMarketer notes that the number of people using smartphones and tablets has gone up by 1.91 billion people globally – and trending towards reaching 2.56 billion by 2018. This further proves that digital consumerism, specifically on the mobile front, is a growing part of everyday life.
So how does all of this relate to B2B enterprise brands and their successful strategies to make the most of web, mobile, and social channels? Essentially, this growing trend signifies that more organizations in the B2B marketplace are taking to the web every day. This is why your company cannot afford to ignore honing your digital presence to the needs of potential clients.
As the above graph from SayItSocial – via a report from AdWeek’s SocialTimes blog – shows, the vast majority of B2B organizations are increasing their spending across all of the digital channels that funnel into the online customer experience. This trend shows no signs of slowing down, so that leaves your brand with two options moving forward: Start thinking digitally and enhance your online presence, or miss out on the massive amount of sales generated by these organizations.
Reason #2: Customer Experience of B2C Products Are Pushing Customers to Have Similar Expectations for B2B Products
“Fifty-seven percent of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, and 40 percent turn to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience,” says Kristin Kovner from ClickZ.
Kovner explains that B2B customers crave a great mobile experience, which brings us to our next point: Being “digitally relevant” isn’t just about your desktop site anymore. The idea that these clients are just sitting in front of their office monitors and ordering products or services during business hours only is a myth that needs to be discarded immediately.
Creating a great digital customer experience requires a willingness to connect with your audience across multiple channels and devices, much like a B2C style organization. Making the most out of Web, social, mobile, and cloud experiences, as well as continuity and functionality within the devices that utilize the Internet of Things (IoT) environment, is vital to the success of your digital customer experience.
John McGiffin from Digital Experiences feels that in the digital realm, there are a multitude of different channels you can use to create digital experiences.
In his look at the various pillars of a great digital customer experience, McGiffin explains that B2B customers expect full service options that fit their digital needs on a variety of different platforms thanks to the growing amenities found in the B2C world. So, it’s imperative that your brand is prepared to offer this kind of support in addition to a strong traditional website. To help elaborate on this concept, here’s a look at a few digital use cases that show how organizations can maximize integration within these channels and create a B2C experience for B2B customers.
Disney World’s MyMagic+ System
The first digital use case worth looking into comes in the form of amusement park industry leader Disney’s MyMagic+ system. As the below picture from Brook Barnes’ article in The New York Times shows, this bracelet-based system brings IoT concepts to life for visitors of “The Magic Kingdom.”
By training its 70,000 on-site employees and equipping the various park attractions and 28,000 hotel rooms found within the Disney World complex with radio frequency readers, the MyMagic+ system offers customers instant access to “FastPass+” bookings on rides and amusements, as well as the ability to charge merchandise and foot purchases straight to a visitor’s guest account.
However, the most impressive feature of this “smartband” technology is its ability to harvest data related to the actions and experiences of over 30 million annual park visitors. With this consumer data leading the way, Disney plans to further implement IoT connectivity across multiple devices and channels, thereby providing even more functionality and amenities for customers.
Taco Bell and Location-Based Consumer Services
In her look at Taco Bell’s digital customer experience initiatives, Altimeter’s Jessica Groopman notes that the fast food chain offers up a unique take on customer interaction via a location-based approach. By connecting with Pandora, Waze, and other mobile apps, Taco Bell is able to offer up in-app branded messages to target customers.
This image from Nativ.ly shows how Taco Bell’s relationship with other mobile service providers – like the creators of the Waze traffic app – adds a new dimension to its digital customer experience. Taco Bell is able to offer value and engagement to customers, even if these consumers aren’t currently on one of its primary reachout channels (desktop or mobile site, social media pages, etc.)
Reason #3: Your Competition Is Raising the Benchmark for You and for Your Customers
In terms of your competition, it should come as no surprise that other B2B companies are already embracing the ideals that come with a great digital customer experience. This means that your target audience has more than likely already interacted with a higher level of digital customer services via web, mobile, and IoT integrated offerings, so it’s safe to say that the bar has been raised.
Source link for the chart used in this section:
As this chart from the consulting team at McKinsey shows, B2B businesses are consistently embracing digital tools and technologies to engage further with customers. From experimenting with new site functionality and features, to creating branded applications and bolstering activity on social media networks, this McKinsey research points to gains across the board in terms of deployment and acceptance of such practices.
If you’re going to make up ground on this front and recapture the interest of B2B customers in your industry, then ClickZ’s Kovner goes on to point out that it’s time to go above and beyond with online customer amenities on your site, via IoT service connectivity, on social media, and within any other relevant channels. As a baseline, Kovner suggests the following attributes as the core of a great digital customer experience:
- Provide B2B users the info they came for ASAP.
- Make your site pathing clear and understandable.
- Keep your onsite content fresh and up to date.
- Build your site to scale.
Failing to enact even these straightforward strategies – and not constantly aiming for enhanced functionality and innovation – can lead your B2B customers to vote with their wallets by interacting with the competition.
Reason #4: Being “Digitally Relevant” Isn’t Just About Your Desktop Site Anymore
As mentioned earlier in the article, only are B2B customers flocking to the web in droves, but the people that handle purchasing and sales agreements on behalf of these organizations also understand that the digital marketplace is full of viable options. If you’re not offering up a great digital customer experience to these shoppers, they have no problem browsing around until they find a better alternative for their B2B needs like –
- Review sites
- Social media
- Industry “word of mouth” interactions
Additionally, your B2B customers are also likely active in the channels of communication listed above. This amplifies the effect of a negative online experience exponentially. Simply put, it won’t take long for a less than stellar approach to digital commerce to spread like wildfire through the B2B community.
Reason #5: Do or Die: You Cannot Escape Customer Feedback in Case Things Don’t Change for Them
The final reason why enterprise B2B companies simply cannot survive without a great digital customer experience rests within your target audience. These customers have no problem both telling you exactly what they want from your digital presence and how sub-standard offerings on these fronts aren’t good enough in today’s marketplace.
There’s no way to escape the backlash of a less than stellar digital customer experience with social media, industry review sites, and other channels readily available on the web. Additionally, these disgruntled B2B clients can also head straight to the source – your blog comment sections, feedback surveys, etc. – to let you know that your digital experience isn’t up to par. Considering how important these outward facing representations of your brand are to attracting new customers, your organization can’t afford to have these complaints and concerns on prime display for potential new clients.
How to Get Back on the Right Track with a Great Digital Customer Experience
As you can see, it’s more important than ever before to have a digital experience that properly addresses the requirements of your B2B customer audience. So now that we’ve delved into the five major reasons that a B2B brand can’t survive without a great digital customer experience, let’s take a moment to talk about getting your organization back on the right track. The best place to start this endeavor is by identifying the digital “pain points” of your customer base.
Is there a specific issue or problem that affects the digital experience from the perspective of your B2B customers? What about a potentially overlooked function or feature that your competitors don’t currently address? How can a branded app, IoT offering, or redesigned site that is mobile- and desktop-friendly solve these issues?
Naturally, the pain points of each B2B audience will be different, so you’ll have to do a little digging to truly uncover the best ways of addressing these concerns via your digital customer experience. Stephanie Tilton of Ten Ton Marketing, via a piece on the Buzzsumo blog, suggests a few different ways to get into the heads of your buyers and learn more about their digital issues:
- Analyze trending search and keywords.
- Keep your eyes on the discussions and conversations that occur within relevant online B2B communities – specifically LinkedIn.
- Attend industry events and webinars that service your target audience.
If you are willing to keep a finger on the pulse of your audience via these practices, then you’ve taken the first – and most challenging – step toward a proper response to the needs of these potential B2B customers.
From here, don’t be afraid to connect with the right team of design professionals who can develop and enhance your consumer experience on-site and across the other channels covered. By working with a team of experts – like the ones here at Net Solutions – you’ll have all the tools you need to constantly optimize and refine your digital customer experience in the face of changing industry standards and shifting B2B consumer needs.
Formulating a plan that blends your site functionality, IoT endeavors, and mobile offerings with the concerns of your audience helps put this new take on your digital presence into action. As long as your brand is willing to follow this course of action – and put what it has learned in this post to good use – then there’s no reason why this current weakness can’t be turned into a point of strength in the online marketplace in no time.
Net Solutions creates unique digital moments and experiences to engage your customers and employees and create high growth opportunities for your business. We do this by converging technologies like web, mobile, social, cloud and IoT. Follow us on twitter @netsolutions.