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June 4, 2021   |   4 min read

Today’s Successful Business Mindset: The B2B Customer Journey

Shelagh Conley   |   Sr. Strategist

Customer Journey mapping is often associated with brands applying a customer-centric approach to B2C relationships. Customer Experience (CX) methodologies are equally impactful and valuable as a strategy for B2B as well. Over the past several years, businesses have adapted as B2B continues to reinvent itself. As that reinvention continues through the era of digital transformation, the Business Customer Experience (BCX) provides high-value opportunities to retain and grow relationships driving strategic decisions framed by the B2B customer journey and opportunities with modes and hinge points at the forefront.

The Business Customer Journey

The journeys for B2B are not the same as with B2C; however, they should be given the same considerations of wants, needs, and intersections – all partnered with an empathy for business buyers and sellers.

A B2B journey is a morphic shift from a typical single-plane B2C customer journey of brand awareness and engagement through fulfillment and loyalism. The journey a business-to-business relationship takes can be more multi-dimensional.

There is more than one customer or stakeholder in the process that flows within B2B as well. This plurality creates complexities in buying behaviors, with multiple decision points. And there’s the added layer of relationships with suppliers and procurement.

Impact of CX on B2B Satisfaction Levels

A recent McKinsey report uncovered that B2B organizations tend to have lower satisfaction ratings than B2C companies. A consumer-facing company typically rates between 65 to 85 percent in customer satisfaction scoring, whereas B2B companies are averaging scores around 50 percent. There are opportunities to understand B2B customer types and address the wants that will lead to positive interactions and eventual higher satisfaction and sales.

Modes Offer Opportunities Within the Journey

The number of individuals in a complex B2B roadmap could be made up of as many as ten decision-makers, each having a particular buy-in or interest and different frames of knowledge. With digital migration accelerated, the nuances of technology, online service, and product offerings have evolved, adding new layers of engagement to each individual’s experience.

B2B journeys are becoming so dynamic that Gartner reports that 75% of B2B customers find the purchase and decision paths difficult and complex to navigate. This friction opens the door to opportunities, identifying, and evaluating types of modes of thinking, feeling, and operating states of mind that can be strategically addressed, creating differentiators from the competition.

Each decision-maker in a buying or selling journey is in a new mode of operating depending on if they’re discovering information or considering business impacts and benefits. They’re affected by dynamics as well as supplier and service points of interaction. Modes can happen anywhere they engage a product, brand, or service.

As illustrated below, a journey map can be quite complex – and this landscape may not create the best micro-experiences at every engagement point. There are several opportunities to evaluate this microcosm and solve for experience gaps that positively affect buying and selling intersects.

 A Gartner B2B customer journey map showing the complexities of relationships and touchpoints, along multiple layers

In early 2021, an emerging trend was spotted that identified that both B2B buyers and sellers were increasingly preferring digital interactions. More than 75 percent prefer remote engagement with sales and some type of digital self-service. This will have an impact on what the B2B journey paths will look like. Companies need to understand these impacts in order to remain competitive.

Brand Opportunities

As business models continue to adjust to effects on supply chain and overall B2B engagement, and journey maps refresh, a shift in empathy is needed for the next normal: those behaviors recently applied and adopted between businesses in 2020 that are here to stay.

What is the 2021 B2B formula? Find the intersections, read the data, understand the modes, answer the needs.

B2B marketers are constantly reinventing themselves and how they meet business’ and customers’ needs. Along with that metamorphosis, digital migration has also elevated the need for automation, technology, and online engagements. All of these “upgrades” offer a pool of insights that can help better understand clients. CRMs, VoC, and marketing automation (MA) can help identify and define not only current purchase and service paths but also the needs and friction points with customers.

A five-point CX practitioner’s process to lay the groundwork for journey management:

  • Evaluate research and data
  • Map all customers, internal and external
  • Infuse tracking for CX ROI
  • Manage issues and reworks
  • Digitally transform where migration can happen

We're Here to Help

At Mindstream, we look at B2B processes, data sources, and service or purchase paths as the foundations for uncovering opportunities with customers. Our Strategy team evaluates business objectives and identifies product groups, customer segments, and what those processes and journeys look like.

Through research and insights, our team defines personas creates journey maps, evaluates passion points, areas of need, and modes of behavior and translates those into impact charts of brand opportunities – positioning you as a B2B customer-first organization.

If you would like more information on our approaches, success stories, and how our strategic offering Customer Core™ can help you pave that road to higher customer engagement, we’d love to talk with you. Contact us.

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