NEW! Listen to the article
Log in or register to access this feature!
The observation that COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we interact is now old news.
However, incorporating best practices into your B2B marketing strategy is never a bad idea, and marketers can learn a lot from how customer service reps have adapted over the past year and a half.
These insights can help marketers meet new customer expectations and build long-term customer relationships.
Thanks to Zoom, many of us have met each other’s kids, partners, and pets, so there’s no going back to normal business. As we have already seen, the technology we have adopted will continue to be deployed. When B2B marketers switched to digital reach to generate leads, they took on the challenge and used new channels.
So what’s next?
As always, customers are driving transformation, and their experiences during the pandemic have raised expectations for hyper-personalized contacting. Changed customer expectations and new regulations to protect consumer data require B2B companies to rethink their customer contacts and build long-term relationships.
Tips for adapting to new customer expectations
The shift in customer expectations, as well as the long-term nature of change, were highlighted in a recent Gartner report on B2B buyer demand for digital options. B2B customer expectations for a rich virtual experience are determined by their experience as a consumer, according to the report, which makes adopting customer service best practices a breeze.
Here are a few tips that can help marketers use customer service best practices in their own engagement strategies.
Personalize, but don’t generalize
While customers expect hyper-personalization in digital public relations, privacy concerns are also growing. At the same time, customers do not like to be pigeonholed.
That might sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t. Customers expect you to know who they are and where they are on their customer journey. That requires data and segmentation so that you can reach them on the right channel at the right time. However, it is risky to make assumptions or rely on stereotypes – especially those based on demographic information.
Instead, look at the data from a different angle so you can see what makes your prospects and customers unique. Gather your leads from inquiries and buying behavior to make sure you address their specific needs.
Be funny, be real, be seamless – and run with your company values
After the hardships we’ve gone through over the past year and a half, people are understandably hungry for fun. Digital outreach that is experiential and interactive is a good idea in this environment, and technology can help you be more talkative and responsive to customers and prospects.
Plus, people are more interested in doing business with brands that reflect their own values. So lead in an authentic and relatable way with your values. Meet customers where they are (email, SMS, social media, etc) and make sure they have a seamless experience through whatever channels you use to communicate with them.
Make no mistake about it – the consent also applies to you!
All human peer relationships are consent-based, and that includes the relationship between B2B marketers and prospective or current customers. Take every opportunity to ask customers for permission to continue an open conversation and find out which channels they prefer.
When a customer tries to provide service or a prospect requests information, ask them to make choices about future conversations and to respect their preferences. People do business with people they trust. Getting customer approval and having the conversation through their preferred platforms can help you increase lifetime value and reduce churn.
Continuation of your customer relationships
The pandemic has increased the humanity and authenticity of communication with customers and potential buyers. As the pandemic recedes, it’s important not to downgrade the connections marketers have built. Since customers encourage interactions, we can’t reset the calendar to 2019 anyway. The changes in customer expectations will remain, which means hyper-personalized, thoughtful communication is on the table.
Run with the company’s values as professionals; Give your current and potential customers a reason to do business with your brand. Just as a customer service professional connects authentically with those who need help or support, marketers can also be their authentic selves and turn conversations with B2B prospects and customers into a fun and interactive experience.
It will be critical to build and maintain trust in a post-pandemic environment where digital reach still dominates, but customer experience is more important than ever. Marketers can build trust by treating people with respect, which includes effectively managing customer consent and communication preferences.
B2B marketers figuring out how to do this are going to thrive not just this year, but for years to come.
More resources on customer expectations
Customer Journey Maps for Marketers: Understanding and Exceeding Expectations | MarketingProfs Master Class
Consumer Psychology: Five Tips for Creating Positive (and Sensible) Expectations
The 4Es Of Video: How To Align Your Marketing Content Strategy With Buyer Expectations