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illustration of stars for showing how to improve the B2B customer experience

How to Improve B2B Customer Experience [5 Steps]

Lance Concannon

Mar 29, 2023

The customer experience (CX) has long been emphasized in business-to-consumer (B2C settings). But CX plays just as important a role in business-to-business (B2B) environments. Anytime you want to earn a customer’s business, maintain their loyalty, and transform them from customers to brand advocates, their experiences with your company come into play. 

Even if you’re already delivering a top-notch customer experience in B2B, there’s always room for improvement. Let’s explore how you can enhance your B2B customer experience management and stand out from your competitors.

Table of Contents

What Is B2B Customer Experience?

B2B Customer Experience

We define B2B customer experience as the sum total of how a customer interacts with your brand and its products and services. 

Customer experience B2B sounds a lot like customer experience B2C. There’s not much difference between the two, the main one being the target audience you’re serving. 

But consider that a B2B audience may have vastly different priorities than the average consumer. What’s more, the buying journey is usually longer in a B2B setting, involves more decision makers, and may face unique challenges that aren’t seen in a B2C setting.

With these nuances in mind, you can cultivate a customer experience B2B clients will appreciate and remember.

Why Is Customer Experience Important in B2B?

Good customer experience in B2B has increasingly become a competitive advantage. In fact, it’s impactful enough for two-thirds of companies to compete on experience alone. 

Most importantly, customers expect a great customer experience. Salesforce B2B customer experience insights show that 80% of customers believe CX is just as important as the products or services a company offers. People will pay more for a better experience, and that’s something every business can get on board with.

These increasing expectations from customers are arguably set by B2C companies. Think about it: Every B2B customer is also a consumer outside the workplace. As consumers, we do business with a variety of companies every day. We know firsthand the frustrations of complex transactions or a lack of information, a need for an omnichannel customer experience, and a desire for seamless customer service. We take notice when we have great experiences with some businesses and poor experiences with others. We become accustomed to these experiences, and those expectations carry over into the workplace.

When you deliver a great B2B customer experience, you’re sending a subtle yet powerful message that your customers matter. This gives them even more reasons to choose to do business with you and even refer you to others.

What Is Customer Experience Management in B2B?

B2B CX Management

Creating a strong customer experience in B2B doesn’t happen by accident. Rather, it’s the byproduct of dedicated customer experience management B2B clients will surely notice.

We define B2B customer experience management as the intentional and ongoing act of crafting positive customer experiences. It involves collecting feedback from employees and customers, examining processes and touchpoints, and making data-driven improvements to your operations.

Making CX a priority gives you more control over how your experiences look and function. When managed well, B2B companies can continue meeting customer expectations and create a customer-centric image of your company.

5 Steps to Improve B2B Customer Experience

Successful B2B firms are always on the lookout for ways to improve their image in their customers' minds. Want to make a difference in your B2B CX?

Discover how to improve B2B customer experience in these five steps.

1. Map the Customer Journey

Before you can improve these experiences, you first need to understand what these experiences are. The customer journey gives you direct insight into how your customers engage with your business before, during, and after making buying decisions. 

Each stage of the customer journey caters to customers with different needs and priorities. Someone in the awareness stage will not be as familiar with your brand and what you do compared with someone who has already bought from you.

Different customers may expect different things and experiences depending on where they are in the buying process. Learning more about their journeys allows you to meet them wherever they are in a way they’ll recognize and respond to.

2. Gain Consumer Insights into Each Step of the Customer Journey

Consumer insights are data-driven interpretations of how a customer thinks and feels about a business. Companies can use consumer insights to learn more about what their customers like and dislike throughout the customer journey.

For example, Meltwater's Radarly platform scours social media and other digital media to learn what customers are talking about and the context in which they’re talking.

It uses AI technologies like natural language processing to uncover the meaning behind what’s being said. This allows brands to act more quickly on addressing their customers’ needs and provide better experiences in real-time speed.

Customer journey consumer insights

By looking more closely at the customer journey, brands can gain a better sense of where friction occurs and what turns customers away from a brand.

For example, you might notice that a significant number of customers drop out of your sales funnel at the same stage. This may tell you there’s something amiss here, giving you a way to better focus your B2B CX improvement efforts.

3. Collect Feedback from Customers and Internal Stakeholders

There’s nothing like hearing about your customers’ experiences directly from their mouths — that’s why collecting customer feedback is so important to the process.

Customers are vocal when it comes to sharing negative experiences. But keep in mind that only about one in 26 customers will lodge a formal complaint. Some may leave bad reviews online for others to read, regardless of whether they’ve notified you about the problem. Others simply won’t come back, leaving you to wonder what happened.

Some good news, though — lots of happy customers will also willingly share their experiences with you. More than seven in 10 customers say they will leave a review for a business if asked. The key is remembering to ask!

Creating a system for continuous customer feedback will give you the insights you need to make valuable customer experience B2B improvements. Also, make sure that system includes insights from customer service team members, sales reps, and any other customer-facing roles. They’re on the front lines of your brand and can share customer feedback that hasn’t been formally captured but may prove valuable.

4. Personalize the Experience

B2C has certainly upped the ante when it comes to personalized B2B experiences. Consumers expect personalized offers and messages from the brands they do business with and even become frustrated when brands don’t deliver. 

Taking time to personalize interactions in a B2B setting can go a long way in improving your CX. Similar to B2C customers, your B2B buyers will feel seen and heard and more likely to keep doing business with you.

Reading tips on personalization:

5. Leverage Technology to Improve the B2B Customer Experience

Technology provides the ultimate B2B customer experience solution. It makes things like personalization, mapping the customer journey, and collecting feedback more streamlined and systematized without sacrificing the human element.

Use technology to learn where your customers are engaging and where they talk about your brand. Discover all of the touchpoints a customer uses to connect with your company. Keep track of your customers’ communication preferences and historic purchasing and behavior data to improve your connections over time.

The Best B2B Customer Experience Examples

How does your customer experience B2B stack up against some of the top companies renowned for their CX?

Let’s explore some customer experience B2B examples that might inspire your own CX strategy.

Tip: Here you find important CX statistics, more customer experience examples, and CX trends.

Amazon Business

Amazon B2B CX example

As one of the largest eCommerce platforms in the world, Amazon has truly changed the game when it comes to setting higher customer expectations. In response to the company’s mega success, a number of other retailers have adopted Amazon-like perks, mirroring the retail behemoth’s model of two-day shipping, memberships, and personalized product recommendations.

Tip: Learn more about customer experience in retail.

Amazon offers a special program for companies, called Amazon Business. Program users can gain special discounts on volume orders, free shipping, discounts on recurring orders (similar to Amazon’s Subscribe and Save for consumers), and other perks.

The company created the program to cater to the unique needs of business owners, giving them a better way to manage tail spend, save money, and quickly get the items they need.

Quill Employee Gifts

Quill B2B CX example

B2B office supplies retailer Quill knows the urgency businesses experience in stocking their offices at all times. The company delivers on high B2B customer expectations by providing rapid shipping times on all orders, low order minimums to get free shipping, and non-category-specific coupons.

What’s more, the company goes beyond basic staplers and paper clips to include a range of non-office items, such as Mrs. Fields' cookies or gift cards. These make for excellent employee gifts and save you a step by filling multiple needs from a single source.

IBM Cloud Storage B2B Onboarding

One of the leaders in technology and customer experience B2B examples, IBM believes that informed customers are engaged customers.

The company assigns a team of specialists to onboard new customers who purchase an IBM cloud storage solution. The team handles all aspects of setup while educating and training customers on what’s happening behind the scenes, helping them get up and running in no time.

HubSpot B2B Onboarding Experience

Hubspot B2B CX example

A system as broad and multi-faceted as HubSpot requires a strong onboarding experience, and that’s exactly what the company aims to provide. HubSpot is proactive about reaching out to customers for feedback, including adding chatbots to every page. And after a guided walkthrough and onboarding, the company provides an extensive library of blog articles and how-to’s to help users get the most from their investment.

The company excels at anticipating customer needs to improve its end-to-end CRM and marketing tool. Between self-service resources and dedicated customer success employees, it's no surprise that HubSpot customer satisfaction rates are sky high.

What are Good B2B Customer Experience Solutions?

B2B businesses can make CX improvement a greater priority with the right tools and technologies. But what should you look for in a B2B customer experience solution?

Ideally, your chosen solution should:

  • Provide data-driven insights into the customer experience
  • Prioritize ongoing customer relationships
  • Offer an easy user experience on both the customer side and employee side
  • Collect customer data in real-time
  • Offer omnichannel touchpoints
  • Cater to all stages of the customer journey, including post-purchase follow-up

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it does illustrate how fragmented the customer experience can be.

Using Meltwater to Improve the B2B Customer Experience

Meltwater Radarly is the ultimate B2B customer experience solution, helping you tap into real-time data and AI-driven insights across multiple channels.

As a consumer insights platform, Meltwater delivers contextual insights into what your customers think and feel about your brand. With AI data coupled with insights from human data scientists, companies can go from information to action faster, easier, and with greater confidence.

Get your free tour today!