The results of a recent McKinsey study demonstrate the inexorable changes of customer behavior in the digital age. About 50 percent of all B2B customers prefer online-based interaction to face-to-face contact with sales representatives. As personal contact loses its relevance, how can companies gain customers and develop their relationships?
In essence, it works similarly in the physical world: you win new clients if you can compellingly convey the value and benefit of your offering. You secure the loyalty of your customers if you can continue to delight them. The only thing that changes when working in the digital age, is the approach. Megatrends like connectivity, mobility and individualization influence people’s behavior permanently and determine their expectations of companies. New technologies can help companies exceed the expectations of their customers, as long as they really meet their needs. Technology follows customer needs is the winning formula.
Here are three ways that B2B businesses can improve contact with customers and continue to delight them in the digital age:
1. Have an open digital dialogue with your customers
In the transparent, digital age, brands are defined by what consumers say to each other, not by what brands say to consumers. Customers expect companies to have an open dialogue with them. Dell, for example, tracks all dell-related posts, in real-time, with its social media listening center. It is able to react within 60 minutes. Additionally, a diverse range of employees is selected and trained to communicate on Dell’s behalf across all social media channels. This ensures that an exchange at eye level between experts is possible and the power of social media used the best possible way.
2. Use the full power of virtual storytelling
Information is available and can be shared without limits. It is natural for customers to get the information they need, at any time and place. According to a recent study by Google/Roland Berger, over 90 percent of all B2B clients search online for keywords and 70 percent watch videos during the pre-purchase phase – 50 percent do that for over 30 minutes. More than half of the purchasing process is completed before customers contact a sales representative. Thus, it is crucial for B2B companies to virtually convey the benefit of their products and services in an effective and attractive way. A good example is YuMi® from ABB.
3. Become a master of micro-moments
We are at the beginning of the multi-mobile age. We are constantly on the go, simultaneously, to more places than ever before. In the future, it will become the norm to have a Skype conference on a train, then discover that you need more milk from your mobile and place an order so that it will be delivered as you get home. More and more, customers expect real-time immediate and seamless fulfillment of their needs from companies. Giants like Google, Amazon & Co. will set the benchmark. People will get used to this standard and adjust their expectations for other companies, including those in the B2B environment. According to a recent study by Google/Millward Brown, about 50 percent of all B2B customers use their smartphone during the purchasing process. It can be assumed that this percentage will increase during the upcoming years, in all phases of the buying process. How can companies become masters of micro-moments? Be there, be relevant, be quick.