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Who is Controlling Your Buyer’s Customer Experience?

B2B_research.jpgThe mind-blowing branding news, last week, was the study out of Great Britain that 80% of B2B customers base their buying decisions on customer experience (CX), not price. This has huge ramifications for almost all B2B businesses. Even if the result turns out to be an outlier and future studies confirm the mark to be closer to 50% or 60%, it still means major disruption for B2B businesses.

Why? Because most B2B businesses regard the CX as beginning, only, when the first contact is made with a prospect. Once that happens, the good firms attentively manage the customer’s journey, right through to the completion of the transaction. But, we know from previous studies, that the prospective customer is 70% through the buyer’s journey before even making contact with the B2B business. That means the lion’s share of the buyer’s journey is left up to the tender mercies of the company’s online presence. And we all know that the typical B2B website is old and way behind the times. The clearly inescapable conclusion is many, many highly qualified customers are dropping out of B2B funnels before ever making contact. Think of the lost sales!

As a manager of a B2B business, you have to start with the certain knowledge that there are some customers, out there, that you can serve better than anyone else. Think of them as your perfect customers. Right now, these perfect customers know, intuitively, that somewhere in this world there is a company (yours) that can provide them with the solution(s) they need. So they have to look for you. And their customer experience starts the moment they begin their search.

They start by asking trusted colleagues if they know anyone who can help them.
How well-known are you? Have you been building your reputation as a thought leader in your field? Will your name even get mentioned in this conversation?

Next, they search online.
How easy are you to find? Have you been exploiting every available SEO technique? Where do you come up in Google listings?

They study your website. (Perhaps, even more closely than you do?)
Does it make the correct first impression? Is it interesting, engaging? Do the pages load quickly? Is it easy for them to find the info they want within 2-3 clicks? Does it clearly reflect why you’re the prefect match for them – your perfect customer? Do you have offers that correspond to top, middle and bottom sections of your sales funnel? Are you allowing a peek behind the scenes, revealing to the customer what it would be like to work with you?

They judge you by the company you keep.
What kinds of clients have you served? What kinds of associations have you joined? Better yet, which do you lead?

They run due diligence on you.
What has the press said about you? What have people said about you online? How do you manage reviews in Yelp!, Glassdoor and other feedback sites?

They read what you write.
Have you and/or others in your firm been publishing? Books? Ebooks? White papers? Blogs? Magazine articles? What have you written that will demonstrate your approach to your perfect customers’ pain points?

By this stage, hopefully, the prospective customer will have identified you as a finalist to get their business. They’re, now, ready to reach out and make contact with you. But that will only happen if you pass one, final test. You see, they’ve already been judging the CX you deliver.

The care and organization you put into making the buyers’ journey an easy one, an informative one, even an enjoyable one, will, to your perfect customer, foreshadow what it will be like to work with you. If they find the info you put online to be readily available, thoughtful, clear and well-organized, you’re already delivering a superior CX. Likewise, if you present your content consistently, with an appropriate voice and visual identity. Handle this well, and prospective customers will mark you as a business that knows how to deliver a superior CX. You can expect to hear from them.

But if your online presence is old, dated, neglected, inconsistent, poorly organized, incomplete or just plain ugly, well, they will impute those qualities to you as well. Your phone won’t ring and you’ll never even know that you once had their attention.

The buyers’ journey is a crucial part of the total customer experience. Don’t forget to manage the first 70% of it.

Best Branding Reads – Week of August 29, 2016

Rise Of The First Responder Brands
First responder brands. So brilliant, I wish I’d thought of it. 

7 B2B brands using emotional engagement to enhance CX
Can we talk about our feelings?

Branding for content films extremely important: Tannishtha Chatterjee
Right on, Tannishtha! If it needs marketing, it needs a strong brand strategy. 

Differentiate or die
True for B2B as well as B2C. 

FedEx Is Making All of Its Logos Purple and Orange
Changes at FedEx. Simpler is usually better, but no more green for FedEx Ground? Aww.

New Logo for Universal Studios Hollywood
New Universal Studios logo is OK … but also subtle and unneeded.

10 Disruptive Marketing Trends
The future is on its way. And it’s accelerating!

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