The tides have changed. More and more B2B customers are now using digital channels and looking for personalization very much like their B2C counterparts. Plus, with Millennials set to take over the reins in the business place and become more of the decision makers, digital engagement with the B2B customer will only gain significance. The effectiveness of this engagement will play a vital role in the perception and consequent purchase of your products or services.
So, how do you effectively engage with your customer? We offer these simple, yet significant ways to connect with customers:
- Be interested. Know your customers by finding out more about their business achievements, aspirations, challenges, and more. On a large scale, Big Data Analytics can definitely help, but at a grassroots level, follow your customers’ business activities on various media like social and mass media. With this information, you can develop and leverage buyer personas and create content that not only identifies their interests, but also addresses any challenges or questions they might have about those topics. Good customer engagement should go beyond keeping customers happy to enable them to achieve their goals.
- Personalize. B2B customers are looking for the same kind of personalization they get from businesses who are selling to them as consumers. Go beyond using your customers’ names in emails by personalizing information according to their business needs, activities and interests. Personalized recommendations are only second to product price transparency when it comes to factors that influence repurchases.
- Engage across touch points. Knowing today’s B2B customer, you need to get where they are looking — if not physically, definitely digitally. Ensure your website is search engine-friendly and if you haven’t made your website responsive (accessible on mobile devices), do it now. Get on trade websites, forums, online marketplaces, and social media. While LinkedIn is great for business networking, Facebook can be a good outlet too, if your customers use it. These sites are great places to link to customer product reviews, case studies, and other valuable resources.
- Stay consistent. When reaching out across channels, ensure that you provide a consistent omni-channel experience. From basics like company colors and layout, to information provided, ensure that all interactions convey the same image of your business. Regardless of whether your customers are using a mobile device or a desktop computer, your interface must be intuitive and fast, as well as easy to use and navigate. Delivering a smooth UX (user experience) linked with real-time information and follow-ups will drive effective customer engagement.
- Stay real. As the old adage says, you need to promise what you deliver and deliver what you promise. Ensure that your digital persona reflects the ground realities. The connection between the real world and virtual world should be smooth. Update information provided — from product information and pricing, to orders and feedback — in real-time. Don’t lose out on a satisfactory engagement because a customer found it difficult to find a product on your mobile site, or learned the product is unavailable only after they reached the payment stage.
- Use images and video. Yes, B2B is not B2C. However, since this ever-growing digital world is moving toward infographics and videos to spread the message to the growing Millennial audience, you should use them wherever possible. In these times of low attention spans, cut down on textual descriptions about how your product works. Instead, use a video demonstration.
- Continually evaluate. Check if your engagement is working for you. Are your customers staying loyal to your business? Are they responding favorably and do they continue to buy? Are they recommending your products or company? Use all these inputs to correct or improve your engagement.
- Partner with the right people. Get the right people to represent your company and engage with customers online. The voice of your business should be consistent with your business policies. So, ensure they know the dos and don’ts with regard to your business communications.
Find trusted partners to help you where needed. While payment partners can play an important role in your online success, you may find a need for technology, communication, and analysis experts as well. Choose them based not just on their knowledge and know-how, but also on their ability to understand how your business works and where you want to go with your customer engagements.
The key to customer engagement is staying on top of the needs and preferences of your B2B customers. In this digital age, you’ve got to have the technology and resources to create a fast and engaging customer experience that keeps your customers coming back for more.