- Aleksander Mitrovic
Customer journey in B2B marketing
In B2B marketing and sales, the term “customer journey” is often still used as a synonym for “customer relationship management”. But there is more to the holistic customer journey than that. It is not enough to optimize individual touchpoints on the customer journey. Rather, the entire customer experience needs to be defined and tracked.
Importance of customer journey and customer experience in B2B marketing
Optimizing the touchpoint in the customer journey means one thing above all: At any point in time or at every possible touchpoint of a person with the topic / product / service of your own company, you are there to help the person to answer useful questions, to entertain, to show perspectives and points of view and the like.
At the present time, 50 percent of companies have already geared their business model to a considerable extent towards the customer experience. This trend will continue and the gap between the front-runners and the laggards will continue to grow. As a result of these developments, the content of marketing in particular is changing. But what many companies ignore is that fantastic customer service does not necessarily make for a fantastic customer experience!
The touchpoints themselves, similar to the responsibility of the company departments close to the customer, were treated like islands. In other words, the view beyond the horizon of one's own department, beyond which interaction and beyond the competencies of marketing, sales or service - was missing.
For example, calling your Internet service provider about a problem and being treated very kindly will leave a good impression. You would certainly give this individual touchpoint a good grade. However, if you had been on hold for 20 minutes beforehand or if the salesperson in the branch couldn't help you, you would still be dissatisfied with the overall impression.
The company had concentrated on optimizing the individual touchpoints. In return, however, it did not take into account what the overall picture of the customer experience might look like. And this is exactly where customer journey management comes into play.
Customer journey management: more than just touchpoints
Customer journey management serves the big picture. There, with the help of representatives of different customer types, the so-called “buyer personas”, a map is created that summarizes all touchpoints, channels and content and then records the potential and, above all, individual customer journeys. This is the only way to define and track the entire customer experience. In this way, the invisible moments can also be identified that the company does not pay attention to, but which are of particular relevance to the customer.
Imagine you want to build a house. Everyone gets their individual task. The carpenter builds the stairs and the roof scaffolding, the bricklayer builds the walls and foundations, the electrician pulls in the cables, and so on. But nobody knows what the house should look like in the end. Nobody knows which instructions the other got. This approach can work out fine, but it's pretty unlikely.
The bricklayer, for example, cannot leave any practical cable free space because he does not even know how and where cables should be laid. The electrician can no longer install sockets in the living room because he doesn't even know where the living room is. If the bigger picture is missing, the chances are that the end result won't be good. Worse still, workers are much less motivated than if they knew what they were doing all of this for.
Everyone pulls together when it comes to customer journey management. It's about giving the customer the most positive experience possible, and if the customer is happy, so are the employees.
How do you do that?
One database for all areas: If all customer-related areas have the same information about the customer, they can respond more individually to specific wishes and problems and, above all, are always up to date, regardless of where the customer reports.
Trace the customer journey holistically: Check not only the quality of the individual touchpoints, but also the entire journey that the customer takes from one touchpoint to the next. If the flight was perfect, but in the end the luggage is missing, the customer journey has failed.
Pay attention to customer centricity : Put the customer and his needs at the center.
Take customer feedback seriously and use it: Don't just solve customer problems. Evaluate these and use them to further optimize the customer experience.
Consistent use of data overall: Collect customer data not only to optimize your marketing, but also to get to know your customers better and thus attract and support customers even more effectively and to bind them to your company.
Customer journey in B2B
Once a decision maker in the company has identified a need or a problem, it usually takes a long time to make a decision on a product or service.
Depending on the level of investment, company structure or product complexity, this process can take several months. During this time, the potential buyer comes into contact with providers at various points - and each of these contact points influences his purchase decision.
The challenge for providers is to offer their prospects a convincing customer experience at every touchpoint and to provide exactly the information they need.
This is not easy for two reasons:
1. Complexity is increasing: The customer journey is becoming more and more complex due to the increasing number of information channels. Buyers in B2B today consult a wide variety of sources, especially on the Internet, before they first contact the sales department of a provider. Almost 60 percent of a purchase decision has already been made at this point.
2. Increasing need for information: The need for information of B2B decision-makers changes in the course of the purchase process. In the beginning, more general content is required with which you can get an overview of a topic. The further the interested party progresses in the decision-making process, the more specific the content must be and the more specific information about the product or solution is required. As a result, prospective customers use up to five different types of content in the purchasing process.
Successful companies are no longer characterized by getting everything right with regard to the customer experience, but by continuously improving. Companies don't have to be the best to be successful. You just have to move faster than others along with these trends.