B2B customer experience is nothing like a consumer experience.
Or is it?
While the sales process may be vastly different for B2B, buyers are still people. They expect to be treated well, and they want open, honest, and timely communications. B2B buyers value trust just as much (if not more) than consumers. Relationships are critical, and starting off on the wrong foot can derail an opportunity before you even meet your buyer.
This Happens Every Day
Here’s a very current scenario that can happen to any buyer, any day. This time, the buyer is me.
I’m helping a client select marketing automation software for his firm. If you’re not familiar with it, marketing automation enables companies to identify prospects and track interactions with them, serve up targeted web content based on behavior or profiles, nurture budding relationships, and manage marketing campaigns to select groups, among other cool capabilities.
If you’ve ever filled out a form to snag an interesting white paper, then received a sales call, event invite or other series of follow-up messages, you’ve been on the prospect side of a marketing automation (MA) solution. When deployed effectively, MA is a vital and powerful tool to engage buyers.
With that in mind, you’d expect that the best-in-class marketing automation companies I’m contacting for information and demos would be darn good at follow-up.
Surprisingly, some aren’t.
Call Me, Please
Failing at the simplest of commitments spells big problems. Take, for example, the email I received from one firm after filling out an online demo request form. It read in part,
“A sales representative will follow up with you within one business day to set up a time to take you through the application in more depth and discuss how a marketing automation solution may benefit your business.” Great, I thought. We’re pressed for time and I need that demo ASAP. Based on that promise, I was confident I’d hear from someone quickly.
Five days later I was still waiting. There was no call, no “let’s talk” email, nothing.
The company in question is a major player in the marketing automation landscape and I really wanted to include them in my due diligence. In fact, they were initially at the top of my list. Now I moved them down a notch.
I knew the acknowledgement email I received was auto-generated, but it did include the name and email of the VP of Sales, so I sent him a quick reply, “I have not heard from a rep yet. Could you please have someone contact me this afternoon?”
The response to my very specific request? Crickets.
This firm is now at the bottom of my list. (They’d be off it completely if not for their market position.)
Broken Promises are Deal Breakers in B2B
I can think of a hundred reasons this company dropped that ball, but as a customer, none of them really matter. Whatever the explanation, failing to deliver on a promise is a deal breaker. It raises the question, “If speaking to someone in sales is this difficult, imagine what happens when I need to contact support.” Most buyers will need support eventually, and leaving them wondering if you’ll be there for them is a rocky start.
How about your B2B customer experience? Do service blips like this happen in your business more than they should? Does your organization make seemingly routine promises and then fail to meet them? Do basic deliverables fall through the cracks, undermining the potential for a solid relationship?
If you’re not sure, it would be worthwhile to mine your customer surveys, reviews, and comments and see what you find. Look for any patterns that indicate a potential gap between expectations and reality, and close them – fast.