Your B2B competition wants your customers’ loyalty. It’s happening ; you can’t deny or escape it. They’re always there, hot on your heels, finding new ways to stand out and change the rules of the game. But you can devise a plan to outpace them. The first step is to stop being afraid of competition in customer loyalty program offerings. Fear causes you to make over-cautious or reactionary, drastic decisions. That’s what your competition wants: to get in your head and trip you up. Don’t give in! Face the realities of today’s B2B customer loyalty challenges head on, so you can address them.
B2C influences the expectations of B2B customer experience.
All your B2B buyers are also B2C buyers. So are you. How do you feel when you check your Amazon Prime order, only to see it hasn’t left its last shipping destination after a week? How about when you step into an Uber ride and the car smells fresh, the driver is friendly, and you get to your destination quickly?
As user experience (UX) expert Andrew Kucheriavy explains in Forbes, B2C purchases aren’t just about products anymore, but experiences. This has caused a shift in B2B customers’ expectations. While B2C companies like Amazon, Uber, and Netflix offer personalized, convenience, and lighting-fast B2C experiences, the B2B customer experience doesn’t compare. Kucheriavy says:
“I find that most B2B websites are too organization-centric, suffer from poor information findability and discoverability, and are too fragmented, too cluttered and too confusing to users.”
To maintain customer retention and customer loyalty, B2B companies will need to offer more B2C-like customer experiences.
B2B customers aren’t front and center.
Let’s get the fear-mongering stats out of the way: you’re at risk of losing 69% of your B2B customers at any given time, according to a 2019 Gallup study. This can’t be blamed entirely on increasingly overcrowded B2B markets and part-time customers. The problem is a lack of customer centricity.
While B2B companies are marketing their features and benefits, analyzing monthly reports and dashboards with a fine-toothed comb, they are drifting farther away from solving their customers’ actual problems. Per the previously mentioned Gallup study:
To understand how customers really feel, B2B companies must also embark on qualitative journeys, which means having actual conversations with customers. For B2B companies, quantitative metrics can help identify customers’ needs, but that’s not enough.
The digital revolution isn’t coming. It’s here.
It’s been a much-discussed topic in B2B thought leadership, think-pieces, webinars, and conferences for years: the millennials are coming, with their smartphones, social media, and expectations of an easy, digital buying experience. Millennials are now estimated to make up around 73% of B2B customers.
In addition to the shift in B2B buyer demographics, there’s the COVID-19 pandemic. As I’m sure you noticed, it sped up the digitalization of many industries in a way no one predicted. McKinsey research into the pandemic’s effect on B2B found the following:
- Sales leaders rate digital communication channel twice as important as they were pre-pandemic.
- Customer preference for digitally interactions shot up significantly, with customer engagement with mobile apps, social media, and online communities increasing sharply.
- B2B buyers reported a strong preference for self-service.
- Suppliers who provide outstanding digital experiences to their buyers are twice as likely to be chosen as a primary supplier than those providing poor experiences.
Those are the challenging realities of today’s competition in customer loyalty. Take a deep breath. You're actually a lot farther along now than many B2B companies: you're aware of and have accepted the harsh realities you're facing. Now, let’s talk about what you can do about those realities!