Dealing with B2B customer expectations isn’t what it used to be.
On the one hand, your customers shop and buy much the same way B2C customers do. Research shows, in the first place, they compare prices using online marketplaces. Secondly, customers look for peer recommendations and reviews. And lastly, they expect your websites to provide expertise and trustworthy information.
On the other hand, a lot of B2Bs occupy a pivotal niche in their customers’ supply chains. Consequently, customer service means more than just selling. It’s about collaboration.
Taken as a group, your customers want the best of both worlds. They may want the flexibility inherent in eCommerce to buy as they want to. But they may also need a level of engagement that contact with a good sales rep affords. Thus, it’s helpful to consider different ways to meet B2B customer expectations in an eCommerce age.
Build on Excellent Customer Service
A key distinction separating a good B2B supplier from the pack may be customer service. For manufacturers in particular, meeting B2B customer expectations means developing and maintaining long-term relationships with key buyers. As Information Age writes, this expectation come from a historical B2B reliance on “trusty salespeople to provide recommendations, ensure order accuracy and assist with order logistics.”
Meet B2B Customer Expectations Across All Channels
Forrester reported in 2015 that 60% of B2B executives say customers spend more with them overall when there are multiple channel “touch-points”. Clearly, the direction has been to build solid digital channels for customers to research your products and to complete transactions. As a result, B2Bs must allow customers to purchase when, where and how they want in order to build loyalty. This includes building channels across multiple platforms: eCommerce websites, and B2B marketplaces, in addition to traditional sales rep contacts.
Let Your CRM Work For You
Stop using spreadsheets (or Rolodexes, God forbid) for tracking customers. A CRM will go a much longer way to ensure you develop new leads, provide quotes, and otherwise meet B2B customer expectations in a dynamic, omnichannel world. Integrating a good CRM solution with the rest of your supply chain gives you more flexibility to develop sales with confidence.
Outsource to 3PLs When it Makes Sense
The bigger you get the more complex your order fulfillment can become. Third party logistics can enhance your ability to meet B2B customer expectations of speedy, accurate order fulfillment. Research shows that 53% of particular US B2B suppliers use 3PLs to manage aspects of their supply chain, primarily for shipping and warehousing.
Automate As Much as Possible
It’s likely that you will have different kinds of customers. Some will do more business with you than others. And while every sale counts, not every transaction requires the same level of customer service. You should be able to use your business software to streamline and automate management of smaller orders to free up your time to give other customers the attention they need.
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