The consulting firm polled 3,000 B2B decision-makers and found customers want an always-on, personalized, and omnichannel customer experience (CX) or they’ll leave
“B2B loyalty is up for grabs,” according to a new report from McKinsey & Co.
The consulting firm surveyed 3,360 B2B decision-makers in 12 markets including the U.S. and U.K. and found that customers and clients are more willing to change suppliers than ever “to gain exceptional omnichannel experiences.”
Omnichannel in this report refers to all the digital channels that became paramount during the pandemic – tools like webchat and video conferences. What this study says to me is, even if your company goes back to the office, customers still want these channels available.
The study identified 15 things B2B companies “must do” to deliver on customer experience. While the report everyone should “master” the top five, it’s worth noting all fifteen points drew greater than 50% of the responses.
1. Performance guarantees. 76% of B2B decision-makers want performance guarantees backed by a refund.
2. Product availability. 74% want to see the product availability online. While this doesn’t apply to selling software per se, if you’re a solution provider in supply chain, inventory or e-commerce, this it what your customer’s customers are asking for.
3. Omni-channel purchasing. 72% want the ability to purchase from any channel. This does not mean social channels, but rather specifically the following: email, in-person, phone, website, procurement, mobile apps, e-commerce portal, video conference, webchat and Google search. These are all channels that were pivotal during the pandemic – and customers want them retained.
4. 24/7 support. 72% want customer service available 24/7 across all of these channels.
5. Consistency. 72% want a consistent customer experience (CX) across all 10 channels identified in the third point above. In other words, it’s unwise to put the A-team on the phones and the B-team on digital.
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6. Pricing based on outcomes. 70% want outcomes-based pricing – that is pricing based on value rather than cost. If McKinsey drilled down on this a bit, I’m confident it would also reveal a strong desire for simplicity in pricing.
7. Customer reviews. 69% want readily available customer reviews. Keep in mind your response to reviews on 3rd party review sites may count as much as the review itself.
8. Published pricing. 68% want prices published online without negotiation. B2B software companies are resistant to publishing pricing online. However, those that don’t are giving the customers a reason to switch. Pricing pages also tend to pull a lot of search traffic.
It’s worth pointing out, even Jason Lemkin of SaaStr fame suggests this is the right approach. He wrote, “So 9.5 times out of 10, at least start with transparent, published pricing. Start there at first. It takes one less piece of friction out of your sales process.”
9. Mobile phone ordering. 65% want mobile phone ordering. This also may not be directly applicable to selling B2B software, but it’s a feature or integration point worth considering.
10. Product viewing IRL. 64% want to be able to view products in person should the need arise. For software companies, this might extend to a site visit, particularly around cybersecurity audits.
11. Two-day shipping. 74% want shipping in two days or less. If there’s ever been an example of consumerization in B2B, this is one, thanks to Amazon.
12. Free shipping. 63% want free shipping.
13. Single sign-on. 63% want a single log-in/password for all supplier sites and apps. It’s clearly an issue in CX.
14. Virtual product demos. 60% want 3D or virtual product demos. I’m more bullish on augmented reality than virtual reality in B2B because it offers practical use cases that don’t require a prospect to put on a headset.
15. Loyalty programs. 58% want loyalty programs to earn points or other rewards. Customer marketing is often an afterthought aside from an annual user conference. If marketing ran the loyalty program, could be a good way for marketing to build a more direct relationship with customers in a way that supports the account executives or customer success manager.
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The message is “resounding” the report concludes: “To secure customer loyalty – and the potential of two-times-greater share gains – B2B companies must make omnichannel a cornerstone of their value proposition and selling model. Their profitable growth and competitive standing depend upon it.”
The full report is freely available without registration: The new B2B growth equation.
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Image credit: Unsplash and respective McKinsey report