It’s no longer a secret: an outstanding customer experience boosts satisfaction and brand loyalty, indirectly driving business success. Especially in today’s dynamic corporate landscape, digital customer experiences have become the cornerstone of marketing and sales strategies. But: While processes are increasingly taking place online, the gap between the expectations of new customer generations and the actual digital offerings of companies is becoming more and more obvious. The pressure to act is growing.
Many B2B marketing experts wonder whether insights from the B2C sector are relevant to their industry. The clear answer is: Yes! B2B companies should also pursue user-centric strategies to create digital experiences that convince their customers. Despite the high complexity of the portfolio, longer lifecycles, limited internal resources, and numerous priorities: a good user experience works and has an impact in B2B as well.
When it comes to the fundamental factors of a good user experience, there are remarkable overlaps between B2B and B2C. To examine these more closely, the “User Experience Honeycomb” model coined by information architecture pioneer and bestselling author Peter Morville is helpful. This model explains the seven principles of a good “User Experience”:
The core of every valuable digital experience is utility – the ability to effectively solve real customer problems. Amazon, in the B2C sector, gradually conquered online product searches through personalized recommendations. What many do not know: Amazon now generates three-quarters of its profit from the B2B cloud service “Amazon Web Services (AWS).”
The core task of UX design is to make the work easier for users. Companies like Apple and Airbnb have revolutionised their industries by designing intuitive user interfaces. However, while B2C users often use products for pleasure, for B2B users, it is usually a job: 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Users’ time is valuable – successful providers make sure to make every interaction valuable.
B2C brands like adidas evoke emotions with their digital channels, creating a deep connection between people and the brand. Adobe, with its “Creative Cloud,” addresses not only the professional needs of designers but also their creative ambitions. Behind every B2B transaction are people – if successful in addressing their desires and aspirations, it becomes more meaningful.
Google has built an entire business empire on the vision of making information and products as accessible as possible. However, in the B2B environment, there is still a strong need for improvement: 77% of the buyers surveyed by Gartner stated that their last purchasing process was very complex or difficult. Especially in the B2B sector with complex product structures and multi-stage purchasing processes, it is essential to quickly and easily lead customers to the relevant offer for them. This is why IBM iX works with its long-standing customers like Doka, Lenzing, or Salzgitter not only on how a product catalogue is technically connected but also on what the best user experience can look like.
Leading B2C companies like Microsoft place great importance on the accessibility of their products and ensure that they meet the diverse needs. Good “Accessibility” also opens up valuable potential for B2B companies: it reaches more people, and simplified use benefits everyone.
Trust is easily destroyed but slowly built. Companies like Patagonia or Ben & Jerry’s draw their value from how strongly they can credibly connect their brand image with a commitment to transparency and ethical action in the context of Corporate Social Responsibility. For B2B companies, it is equally important to be transparent and, for example, handle customer data sensitively. For example, SAP has not only focused on the potential of using and linking customer data in its CX and CRM technologies but also on the responsible handling of identity, consent, and preference data. This also includes granular control over who has access to business data such as prices or invoices.
What is good for customers does not always necessarily contribute to business goals – and vice versa. However, ideally, it is not a contradiction to make users happy and at the same time increase profitability. A good example is modern contact centre solutions: here, intelligent routing and AI-supported self-services ensure not only shorter waiting times for customers but also increase the productivity of call centre agents. This also better handles peak loads, which is directly reflected in cost efficiency.
The question now is: What to do? Here are some tips to take the digital user experience to the next level:
The parallels between B2C and B2B user experiences are undeniable. With the principles of the “User Experience Honeycomb”, digital interactions can be transformed into meaningful relationships. This creates digital ecosystems where customers can interact with suppliers as easily as with the private apps on their smartphones. Because customers are more than just a CRM ID or a transaction – they are partners on a shared journey to business success.
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