Although successful e-retailers like Amazon.com and Walmart.ca are business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, that doesn’t mean that business-to-business (B2B) firms can’t emulate them. Here are tech lessons B2Bs in Toronto can learn from what they're doing right.
Tech Lesson 1: Make your brand and offerings easy to find online
Amazon's efficient product search function is one of the key reasons for the eCommerce behemoth's success. When people go online and search for items they want to purchase, merchandise listed on Amazon often appears at the top of search results. You’ll want to do the same thing for your website and your particular services by optimizing for SEO, establishing an active social media presence, and adding your location in online maps.
When you’re already on Amazon.com, it’s very easy to narrow your search down to exactly what you want. Other websites aren’t as well-built. To illustrate, imagine landing on an e-retailer’s page for men’s penny loafers. You wonder if they have men’s mules, so you go over to the menu and click on Mules. You’re then brought to the women’s section for mules, but the menu never indicated gender, making you assume that you’d remain in the men’s section.
This type of frustrating experience rarely happens on Amazon — and it must never happen on your site either. If you’re offering a particular service but a visitor can’t find info about it in your site, they’ll assume that you don’t actually provide that service. Naturally, they’ll move on to your competitor to find what they’re looking for.
Tech Lesson 2: Deliver exceptional customer experiences every step of the way
Have you ever been excited to find an online promotion and added discounted items to your cart, only to find those items were actually out of stock when you got to the checkout page? This awful shopping experience does not happen in successful eCommerce sites because they indicate stock availability in near real time. Furthermore, they show sizing guides and other pertinent information to help customers pick the correct variant, allow buyers to track their delivery packages, and make it easy for them to return items.
B2B organizations will do well to offer the same or more delightful experiences to their customers. Below are a few tips to do just this:
Plot your customer’s journey so that at every touchpoint, you’ll know what you can do to satisfy them.
Provide multiple communication channels, such as email, chat, phone, and video calls. Do this so that customers can reach you via the ways that are most convenient to them, and that they have alternatives in case their first choice is unavailable.
Communicate often to provide transparency, similar to how eCommerce sites provide product shipping updates or security alerts regarding account logins using new devices. For B2Bs, these may come in the form of auto-generated acknowledgement receipts of customer queries — or better yet, answers from a real, live human. Additionally, it will be good to incorporate messages that help set customer expectations. For example, online chats are notorious for making people wait. Automated responses telling customers that service representatives are busy at the moment can help, though pre-programmed chatbots may allow businesses to respond instantaneously to FAQs.
Whenever possible, make sure that communications are dialogues, not monologues. That is, instead of dumping information onto customers, take the time to pause and ask re-engagement questions such as “Do you have any questions or concerns about what we’ve discussed so far?”
Ask for feedback on how services may be improved. And when people post complaints on your social media posts, address them promptly. Apologize for causing them grief, then start a dialogue on how to rectify the situation. Never ignore public engagement — use these as opportunities for building a brand that’s oriented toward delighting customers.
Tech Lesson 3: Be data-driven
When Amazon learned that no-iron men’s shirts were one of their top sellers, they developed their own in-house brand called Buttoned Down to meet customer demand. They were able to do this because they’re able to derive insights from search, wish list, and sales data.
In the same manner, you’ll want to leverage data to discern everything from operational pain points to sales opportunities. To illustrate, a nonprofit organization may find that when it comes to their fundraising efforts, people respond better to phone calls than emails. Therefore, it’s a good idea for B2Bs to implement systems that track information such as key performance indicators or KPIs.
Tech Lesson 4: Master identifying opportunities to provide more value
High-selling eCommerce sites know how to upsell and cross-sell merchandise effectively. That is, they know how to promote products that are related and unrelated to the ones being viewed by the site visitor. Online home furniture shops may display pillow and pillow case combos in a “Frequently bought together” section, and fashion merchants may encourage shoppers looking for shirts to “Buy the entire look” of the model wearing the shirt. The former’s “Frequently bought together” section is powered by sales data, whereas the latter’s “Buy the look” feature is powered by sophisticated cataloging software.
B2Bs, especially service providers, can adopt this practice by identifying offerings they can provide to supplement and/or add to what they are already serving their customers. For example, a digital marketing company may pitch Google retargeting ad services to clients who are already buying SEO services. And just like with eCommerce sites, they can do this by leveraging their data as well as using software that allows them to create custom service bundles.
Better-performing IT can be the springboard to delightful B2B customer experiences! Let XBASE help you get there. Contact us to learn more about our Exponentially Better™ IT services today.