15 B2B Customer Experience Best Practices For Driving Sustainable Business Growth
Want to improve your SaaS retention rates and looking for B2B customer experience best practices to get started with? Look no further!
In this article, we’ll cover:
- The essential components of the B2B customer experience
- Why customer experience is an essential ingredient for retention and revenue
- How to track customer experience metrics
- 15 B2B customer experience best practices that drive business growth
Let’s get started.
- B2B customer experience is all of the interactions that a customer has when interacting with a business-to-business (B2B) company.
- B2B customer experience differs from B2C because it’s rooted in building trust over the long term. B2C sales cycles are shorter so factors like speed are more important.
- Good customer experience is important in B2B because it drives loyalty and retention, increases word-of-mouth marketing referrals, and contributes to revenue growth.
- There are three key metrics used to track customer experience: net promoter score (NPS), customer satisfaction score (CSAT), and customer effort score (CES).
- NPS tracks customer advocacy by measuring how likely users are to recommend your product to others.
- CSAT measures the percentage of users who are satisfied with a certain product experience.
- The customer effort score measures how much effort customers have to put in to get value from your product.
- To improve customer experience, embrace an omnichannel approach to deliver a seamless experience across the entire customer journey. This involves syncing customer data across all channels to personalize interactions.
- Create user personas to understand customer preferences better. Segment users by their shared qualities to scale up personalization and deliver hyper-relevant experiences.
- Use an onboarding checklist to map out the essential actions that first-time users should take to achieve value faster.
- Most young customers prefer self-service support, so build a resource center filled with helpful content in various formats, including video tutorials and help articles.
- Routinely collect customer feedback to get a first-hand look at what customers want from their experience. Act on their feedback, then close the feedback loop by notifying them of the changes.
- Track in-app customer behavior with analytics to recognize areas of friction that you can improve on.
- Reward customers for their loyalty and advocacy with a loyalty program. It can be points-based, referral-based, or mission-driven.
- If there’s a bug or error, communicate what’s going on and keep your spirits high with a light-hearted tone.
- Some customers prefer real-time communication with an actual human, such as phone calls or live webinars, so give them those experiences with the right balance between human and digital interactions.
- Use social media and social selling to build connections with a value-first approach.
- Celebrate important milestones and motivate customers to engage with certificates, badges, or fun characters.
- Promote social proof in your marketing by highlighting customer reviews, testimonials, and case studies.
- Go the extra mile by delighting customers with occasional gifts or special shoutouts.
- A/B test product experiences to ensure you’re putting the experience forward.
What is B2B customer experience?
B2B customer experience is the total sum of interactions and emotions that a customer has when interacting with a B2B (business-to-business) company.
Difference between B2C and B2B customer experience
B2B businesses typically have longer and more complex buying processes than B2C. They also have a lot at stake since they’re using these services or tools to help run their own business. Because of this, the B2B customer experience is rooted in building trust and delivering value above all else.
On the other hand, B2C companies have shorter sales cycles and less at stake, so they can center customer experience around fast service and fun design.
Why is customer experience important in B2B?
B2B brands need to prioritize customer experience for several reasons:
Good customer experiences drive loyalty and retention
You gain customer loyalty by first delivering exceptional customer experiences. And a loyal customer sticks around long-term, therefore cutting down your customer churn rate.
Increased word-of-mouth marketing referrals
People love to share good finds. If you exceed users’ expectations, they’ll sing your praises to their network, driving new referrals back to you.
A superior customer experience can also drive more revenue. Word-of-mouth marketing is easy on the marketing budget.
Investing in your customer experience strategy positively affects your customer lifetime value too. That’s because loyal customers make repeat purchases and are prime candidates for up-sells.
B2B customer experience key metrics to track
These are the key metrics to track for the most helpful customer insights:
Net Promoter score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures customer satisfaction on a scale of 1-10 by asking how likely someone is to recommend your product to a friend.
To find your NPS, run in-app microsurveys that ask customers: “How likely are you to recommend [company name] to a friend?”. Then, tag and organize your responses into three buckets: promoters, passives, and detractors.
With the help of this tagging system and additional outreach with open-ended follow-up questions, you can identify areas to improve CX.
Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
The customer satisfaction score (CSAT) also measures satisfaction by surveying users, asking them directly how satisfied they are with an element of their experience, such as using a feature or speaking to customer service teams.
The actual CSAT score is the percentage of users who indicated that they are satisfied with the experience.
Again, knowing your CSAT score helps to improve B2B CX because it highlights areas and touchpoints that need improvement.
Customer Effort Score (CES)
The customer Effort score (CES) is exactly how it sounds – it tells you how much effort a customer has to put in to get value from your product.
CES is calculated by sending out surveys to users on a scale of 1-5 or 1-7 on how easy the action was to complete, such as using a feature or getting support. Then, the CES formula is:
Customer Effort Score = (number of ratings of 5, 6, and 7/number of responses) x 100
Knowing your CES helps to identify areas of friction in your product experience. Friction has a huge negative impact on the B2B customer experience.
B2B customer experience best practices for driving retention and loyalty
Now that you know the importance of B2B customer experience and the best ways to track it, let’s dive into the best practices to improve it:
Embrace the omnichannel mindset and provide consistent CX across all touchpoints
The average B2B customer interacts with a brand across a few channels. They could be interacting in-app, sending a tweet, getting in touch with support via live chat, or even giving you a call. Regardless of the method they choose, customers expect a consistent experience whenever they reach out.
Embrace an omnichannel mindset to deliver that consistent customer experience 24/7, including:
- Keep branding and tone consistent across all channels
- Track and store customer data (with consent) for better personalization
- Stand by a customer-centric culture everywhere (eg. don’t ignore social media in favor of support tickets)
Map out the customer journey to understand how users feel about brand touchpoints
Journey mapping is one of the B2B customer experience best practices that is often outlooked.
Mapping out your customer journey helps you visualize the multiple channels and touchpoints your customers encounter throughout their experience. That way, you can plan how to maximize good CX for every individual touchpoint, without neglecting any.
Combined with customer data, journey maps help you recognize friction points that need some extra TLC in your CX program.
Create user personas and connect with your audience better
Before improving your customers’ experience, you need to understand your audience down to a granular level, including their age, gender, location, income, hobbies, and interests.
Collect customer data at the beginning of the onboarding process with welcome flows. Don’t overwhelm users with too many questions, especially when they’re first using your product. That being said, pick 1-2 high-priority questions that will help you better personalize their experience.
You can create these in-app onboarding microsurveys with Userpilot, code-free.
Over time, create user personas that convert individual user data into an easy-to-understand narrative that helps you make better decisions to meet customer needs.
Personalize B2B customer experiences and communications
Hyper personalization is one of the most common B2B customer experience best practices in 2022.
B2B customers have high expectations when it comes to taking their individual needs into account. They want tailored product experiences that bring them value.
But, your team likely doesn’t have the time or resources to individually cater to every single customer.
Instead, scale up personalization by grouping and segmenting users based on their company, jobs to be done, and past survey responses.
Then, you can personalize special offers, in-app guidance, and any outreach emails based on what’s the most relevant and valuable for them.
Use a checklist for a frictionless first-time customer experience
Put users on a direct path to success with an onboarding checklist. Be direct – tell them what to do and how to do it so they’re not wasting any time.
You know best. You know the essential actions that new users should take to experience value. Spell it out for them in an easy-to-follow onboarding checklist.
In this example from Kommunicate, they have a short two-step checklist that highlights the essential steps new users should take to get the ball rolling.
Provide proactive assistance with a self-serve resource center
Self-serve resource centers give people contextual, timely support in the medium that they want it.
Most young people prefer self-service support, where they can read an article or watch a video to resolve their issues. They would rather not have to reach out to your customer support team for help.
Resource centers also reduce wait times when customers do reach out to your customer support.
To build a strong self-serve resource center, include helpful content in multiple formats to cater to everyone’s learning style, including videos, case studies, and knowledge base articles.
Embrace video storytelling and embed it into your product experiences
B2B buyers engage more with live content as opposed to text. Video is proven to make complex things seem easier, shortening the learning curve. It’s always better to show, rather than tell.
Leverage video in your onboarding, support, and marketing materials to improve customer success.
As time goes on, the video will become even more important as it becomes the leading content type. A survey from Wyzowl reports that 69% of marketing professionals prefer learning about a product or service by watching a video.
That number’s only going to grow bigger.
Embed videos in your product experiences by:
- Welcoming new users with a short video message from your team
- Recording video tutorials that show customers how to use features
- Producing explainer videos that showcase your product’s benefits and use cases
- Getting customers to send over video testimonials
Have a look at this amazing video onboarding example from Tolstoy. Users are welcomed with a “choose your own adventure” video message and then they can choose the next step where they will be shown another relevant video.
Routinely collect customer feedback
Listen to the voice of the customers and show them you care by constantly collecting customer feedback and acting on it.
To do this, implement VOC programs, conduct user interviews and send out in-app surveys.
In your surveys, ask open-ended questions to gather qualitative insights from customers. Then, use those responses to identify areas of improvement and then implement those improvements.
Also, add in-app passive feedback options to collect responses while being less intrusive to the user experience. These feedback forms and widgets blend seamlessly into the UI.
Don’t forget to close the feedback loop by telling customers how you used their feedback to make changes. They’ll appreciate seeing their feedback put into action, which improves their customer experience.
Track in-app customer behavior to identify roadblocks
Set and track the goals to understand how your users progress through each step of the user journey.
By tracking and analyzing UX analytics, you will identify friction points in the user experience. These are flaws in the UX design that compromise customer engagement and satisfaction.
Reward customers for their loyalty and advocacy
Improve customer experience for already happy and loyal customers by rewarding them for their advocacy.
Customer loyalty programs come in many forms, including points-based, referral-based, and mission-driven, to name a few.
In this example from Evernote, they have a points-based and referral-based loyalty program that rewards customers with free plan credits in exchange for referrals.
Focus on providing a positive customer experience at every interaction
Customers are bound to experience a bug, issue, or error at some point in their interactions with your brand. Don’t skimp on the customer experience in these moments – they’re critical to overall satisfaction.
When things go wrong, great communication and a light-hearted tone are key. Inform customers of what’s going on, what they can expect, and how you’re going to fix the situation. Keep spirits high with humor or upbeat branding.
Here’s an awesome example from Asana, whether they take their error page to the next level with clear communication and colorful characters.
Find the human-digital balance
We mentioned earlier how young people prefer self-service help with instant responses when looking to resolve an issue or find an answer to their question.
That being said, some customers prefer real-time communication with an actual human being on the other end. They want to reach out via live chat, emails, or phone calls to get in touch with your team.
Balance human and digital interactions by offering both channels of communication to your customers. You can also add a human touch to your digital experiences by including photos of real team members in your interactions and by hosting live webinars.
Take advantage of social media and social selling
Social media is the center where most online relationships are formed and nurtured.
That also rings true in the B2B space. People connect individually, and social media is the perfect avenue to do this social selling.
Share helpful content on your social channels, add value to other people’s posts, and build genuine connections on Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, etc.
Celebrate important milestones and make your customers feel appreciated
We tend to repeat actions that drove us to success.
Celebrating milestones in the journey increases the level of dopamine, makes the user feel special and prompts them to engage even more.
To celebrate wins, use gamification elements such as badges, certificates, and characters that recognize accomplishments.
Go the extra mile and exceed customer expectations
Delight customers by doing the unexpected.
Every so often, go the extra mile by sending them a gift or giving them a special shoutout.
In this example, a Userpilot customer mentioned that we should send him a Dream User T-shirt during a conversation with our team.
We knew he was joking, but thought it would be funny to have a shirt made for him that says “Dream User”.
When he opened the gift, he shared his nice reaction on LinkedIn.
Use social proof in your marketing materials
Social proof is a powerful force when it comes to marketing. People trust the opinions of customers more than they do the company. Companies are biased and want you to buy from them, but actual users will share honest candid feedback.
Leverage your positive reviews by displaying them in-app, across your website, and sharing them on your socials. Mix up the formats by including written reviews, video testimonials, star ratings, and case studies.
Keep the reviews coming by encouraging loyal customers to submit their thoughts. Just segment users who gave you a high NPS score and trigger a slideout thanking them and asking them to rate you.
A/B test product experiences to find out what resonates most with users
A/B tests take the guesswork out of figuring out what resonates most with users. By submitting different options to users, and then collecting behavioral data on those options, you can make more informed business decisions.
To do this, build flows using different combinations of UI patterns and surveys with Userpilot. Then, once you’ve collected enough data, you can push the best-performing flows out to your entire customer base.
Customer experience is all about creating delightful moments across all customer journeys, no matter where they are or what they’re doing.
Continuously analyzing customer journeys and optimizing your CX with industry best practices will help you fight customer churn, improve satisfaction and gain more loyal customers.
Want to get started with the B2B customer experience best practices we covered in the article? Just book a demo with our team and we’ll be happy to explain how.