Customer retention and long-lasting relationships are crucial to scaling a B2B business. Keeping your clients needs at the center of your eCommerce replatforming initiative and making changes that will improve their experiences and provide long-term benefits will be key to keeping customers happy and more likely to return.
In our first two posts in our blog series, we focused on the discovery of the true pain points that a B2B business experiences with digital commerce and defining goals before starting any new commerce initiative. In this article, we’ll dive into the priorities that must be identified by your team that will focus on customer experience along with the resources and investment required to get it right.
How Commerce Platforms Play an Important Role in B2B Customer Experience
Once your team has identified customer experience and satisfaction as a top priority and a shared set of goals has been established it’s important to first define the scope of customer experience and what that means. We like to keep it really simple – what are the ways by which you’re making it easier for customers to do business with you? Whether that’s the purchasing process, basic customer interactions or simple day-to-day communication -the right digital commerce platform can help you deliver excellent customer experiences as well as alleviate strain on internal teams and operations.
Let’s review five ways your customers and your team can directly benefit from implementing experienced focused capabilities using the right eCommerce platform.
#1: Shopping Experience: Product Catalog & Search
Devoting the time and attention to organizing and building a clear and detailed product catalog that is easy to use, search, and filter and complete with quality product information is something that should never be overlooked.
Product organization and search are important for two reasons: Firstly, your team can have a big impact here. Most businesses fail to fully utilize the internal knowledge from the sales team, account reps and others to convert their customer knowledge onto the storefront. What terms do customers use when describing or referencing your product catalog? Are they starting their shopping process off at the category or individual item level? Starting with that knowledge and leveraging the capabilities in the commerce platform to create search criteria, product data attributes and a product category map that meet their expectations.
Before investing in the latest generation of AI or expensive integrated search services, simple improvements to product data organization can dramatically improve the shopping experience and conversion rates. Remember: before you can build out a complex faceted search – you need to have the product data breadth to support it.
#2: Purchasing Experience
Consistency – it’s a big deal. And if you’re moving your customers into the digital buying world, they want to be able to shop the same products, ship to the same addresses and pay the same way – which can be a unique challenge. Typically, large bulk orders and credit card purchases can be trouble, so buying on credit against an account limit can be very attractive to any online shopper who wants to make the same purchase online or offline.
In addition to the payment method and adding credit/account buying at checkout, making more information about the account available to the customer in real-time enables more buying behavior. A complete self-service portal doesn’t have to involve taking actions (although it should), there is significant value in displaying the existing account balance, credit limit and any company discounts being applied. Delivering visibility to the customer to ensure they know of their account status before ordering shows a level of transparency that they would expect.
#3: Post-Purchase Experience
Whether we’re ordering toys for our favorite pet or snacks for the pantry, as consumers we’re all now accustomed to a barrage of communication that lets us know exactly when our order is shipping, where it is, and when it will show up on our doorstep. Up until recently, many B2B sellers have been able to dance around customer expectations and avoid that real-time status. But this is no longer an option.
The post-purchase experience comes down to accurately delivering three key pieces of information in order to meet the most basic of expectations.
Firstly, when is my order going to ship?
For businesses ordering supplies required for their own business operation or completing a finished good. Delivery expectations can throw their entire production and/or customer delivery out of sync – costing them significantly.
Secondly, did my order ship?
Yes, it’s that easy. “Your order, either fully or partially, has gone out the door.” Here’s what has been shipped to you. Before the customer worries, places a new order with a competing vendor or places angry phone calls…let them know.
Finally, where is my order?
Tracking. One email with the tracking number for the partial or complete order status.
Applying those pieces of information and communicating via the customer portal on your storefront alongside email automation/workflow in post-purchase emails will put any company ahead of the majority of its competition in the B2B space.
#4: Follow-Up and Support
Leveraging successful customer experiences to drive even more business is a strategy well worth investing some time into. One of the most successful ways to accomplish this is by building an automated workflow using the commerce engine to deliver messaging to the customer asking for feedback.
The messaging can appear to come from an account representative asking for more of a freeform follow-up. Or use a more templated approach to ask for product reviews directly on the website.
Other sales teams have utilized a workflow system to create follow-up tasks for themselves, especially if the customer made a large equipment purchase, to follow up and make sure they’ve received the support, training and materials they need for proper installation.
Building more communication into a post-order workflow and follow-up experience means doing more than asking for a review in a very in-personal way.
#5: Reordering Experience
When you’ve locked down the follow-up experience – checking in with customers who have recently ordered, gathering feedback and collecting reviews, then it’s time to focus on earning that second order.
If your business sells supplies or add-ons to complement an initial large purchase, building out specific shopping pages with a collection of those relevant items is going to be a game changer. However, the reordering process can be as simple as adding a “reorder” button to the “My Account” section of your site or the customer portal. One-click is an efficient and easy way for a customer to quickly duplicate an existing order and move directly to the cart and through the purchasing process.
The “reorder” option eliminates any frustration around searching for and configuring previous orders that need to be duplicated. Consider that a one-click reordering process can also be configured to allow the customer to select reorder and then make adjustments to the original order – removing unwanted items, changing quantities, or other updates.
Launching an effective and highly converting B2B site starts with focusing on the experience your customers have when doing business with you. Start by asking yourself “where might we be causing friction for our customers?” and leveraging technology to create solutions for those areas of concern. Finally, to be most effective, you can’t rely solely on the technology to generate positive outcomes and solutions, but leverage the knowledge inside your organization from historical customer interactions and product and industry knowledge for the most ideal solutions.
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