When it comes to purchasing high-tech products, customers want the same experience they have while shopping for clothes, books, or a new household appliance.
They want inspiration from a variety of sources, whether that’s a TV ad or a post on social media. They want to browse through the options online, take a look at any offers that are available, identify the best product at the right price, and complete the purchase seamlessly. This is e-commerce. Consumers understand how it works and it is familiar territory for them.
Business buyers are also consumers, and they want the same experience while purchasing for professional reasons, and the B2B world must catch on – quickly.
High-tech B2B: It’s time to adapt
The reality is that when it comes to high-tech, many organizations are still focusing on delivering a traditional customer relationship model, and quite simply, that antiquated mindset is not meeting the expectations of today’s digitally shrewd B2B buyers.
B2B buyers are informed by a wide range of third parties and use multiple touch-points, but at each stage of the purchasing process they want consistent and highly personalized experiences. The traditional model, which separates sales, marketing, customer service, and procedures no longer resonates.
How to create a high-tech B2B customer experience
Customers don’t always know what they are looking for, or if they even have a need to purchase. To influence their thinking, high-tech B2B companies need to be proactive.
Of course, traditional marketing tactics such as advertising or outbound direct mailing campaigns still apply, but to really get in front of buyers, these tactics need to extend into social media conversations and topic query search results. Once customers are engaged, the company must be ready to meet their needs, and ensure they receive the same consistent response across every channel, from every department.
If potential buyers need a little nudge, intelligence from online profiles, social listening campaigns, or shopping behavior analysis can be used to provide targeted, topical content that will encourage their curiosity. If they are actively looking for a high-tech solution, this is the moment to inform their information-gathering – and the more personalized this contact is, the more likely it is to create impact.
B2B customers, like any other consumer, will use search engines to create a shortlist of options. Even when they are purchasing complex technical products, there is now an expectation that the information they are looking for will be online, and if it can’t be found on Google, Bing, or Yahoo, then it will most certainly be on the company website.
Wherever possible, high-tech organizations must ensure this enquiry phase is convenient, particularly during any interaction with the marketing, commerce, or sales teams. Customer service can also play a critical role, since pre-sales questions often come in through the contact center.
At this point the groundwork is done, but the final decision still needs to be made, and this is not the time to take the foot of the gas. This is a critical moment when competition to win the sale is at its height, so high-tech organizations must differentiate themselves. Using insight to answer any questions or provide useful information will help maintain engagement, but it must be on the channels that customers use. Identifying and engaging with influencers – and not just the decision maker – could prompt a faster sale, particularly if both high and low touch interactions are personalized. Don’t forget: It is crucial to ensure that service availability and service level agreements are outlined clearly.
Once the decision to buy is made, this stage will vary depending on what is being purchased. It could be a rapid one-click transaction, or it could be the culmination to a longer price negotiation. What will be important is to introduce the buyer to the customer service team to reinforce the brand values that have already been established. This is another opportunity to capture information about the customer’s expectations and frame the future relationship and engagement.
The sale is not the final stop – it is only one part of the customer relationship
All high-tech companies want to form an ongoing partnership with their customer after the sale. This is the longest part of the customer journey, and it should be positive. Proactive, omnichannel service with a focus on customer experience will help to create this, and encourage customers to become public advocates for the product and the brand.
Buyers must find it easy to use their preferred channel to get assistance if needed. Insightful product documentation and self-service help are opportunities for marketing to influence the quality of the ongoing customer relationship. A positive experience will reinforce customer advocacy and high-tech brands can encourage their customers to broaden their advocacy across channels and act on advocacy statements through social listening.
All the elements of a B2C customer experience are now being replicated in the B2B environment. High-tech companies should clarify their omnichannel vision, establish long-term customer relationships and revenue streams, and reduce costs to drive higher returns and provide an outstanding customer experience.
Check out the latest high-tech B2B insights here.