B2B companies aren’t typically known for being customer centric. But a recent push for customer experience has put B2B customers in the middle of many companies’ strategic decisions. Accenture reports that 90% of B2B executives say customer experience is very important to achieving their organizations’ strategic priorities, and many companies are finding innovative solutions.
Customer experience innovation takes on many forms in the B2B world, from leveraging new technology to streamlining sales journeys and offering personalized marketing. Here are 20 examples of how B2B companies are building innovative customer experiences.
Elevator company Thyssenkrupp recently started using VR in many of its global showrooms so that customers can truly experience a Thyssenkrupp elevator or stairlift instead of reading a catalog. Customers can see how the item would look and work in their space and better understand the technology that goes into creating a powerful elevator.
Knotel designs personalized workspaces for small companies, but putting customers in the offices was the best way to improve up the overall experience. Knotel built a pop-up showroom in New York for potential customers to walk through flexible office spaces and work with representatives in person to design their perfect office space.
Jamf, a company that helps small businesses manage their Apple devices, created a community called Jamf Nation for customers to connect with other IT professionals and get the latest news on Apple products. The community encourages customers to share ideas and start conversations to improve all aspects of their businesses. Jamf even hosts user conferences and events around the country to build community.
Instead of waiting 20 days to secure a traditional small business loan, Kabbage created an entirely online system that approves customers in 10 minutes or less. The customizable system streamlines the lending process and takes out much of the headache of funding a small business.
A major problem for B2B Coca-Cola customers was visualizing how the vending machines or coolers would look in their space. Coca-Cola turned to AR so that customers can see how each type of beverage display would look and fit in their store. Being able to see exactly how the design works in the space helps customers feel more confident in their purchase.
Insurance company Nationwide runs a department called the Office of Customer Advocacy to help B2B clients better understand their policies and payouts. Instead of leaving customers in the dark during the often-complicated insurance process, Nationwide advocates for customers and collects data to continually improve.
Hubspot customers are acknowledged and welcomed to the website right away with a chatbot called HubBot. The bot asks a few basic questions to understand the customer and get the right human agent to connect. HubBot can answer questions and streamlines much of the overall experience.
B2B communications company Bell Canada proactively finds ways to solve customers’ problems by identifying common questions or issues. When the company sees a trend in customers calling with a particular question, it creates self-service solutions such as phone instructions or email directions to help customers solve the problem on their own without having to call the company.
It’s one thing to see an item in a catalog, but it’s another to experience it in real life. Cisco used AR and VR technology to create an interactive product catalog customers can access anywhere in the world. The technology allows customers to see products in 3D and imagine them in their business before actually making the purchase.
Aside from its payroll solutions products, Paycor also runs an HR Center of Excellence to serve as a resource for all HR issues. The company gathers data from 30,000 HR and finance professionals to provide its customers with real action plans to drive success in all areas of their businesses.
To build a transparent relationship with customers, industrial IT solutions company Hexagon created an AR version of its annual report. Customers and shareholders can see a virtual demonstration of products in the report on their smartphone to see all the features and get authentic updates from the company.
B2B tech company RapidMiner helps customers get where they need to go quickly with an online chatbot called MarlaBot. The first simple question of asking customers what brought them to RapidMiner points them in the right direction to either automatically answer questions or connect them with a human sales rep without wasting time.
Management services company Sodexo created a pop-up commercial showroom in Paris so its customers could truly experience its line of catering items. The company partnered with a local restaurant so customers could see the items in action before making a purchase.
Management software company ServiceMax knows its products are used by a wide variety of industries, each with their own unique needs and applications. To create a more personalized experience, the company uses machine learning technology to quickly discover a website visitor’s purpose and predict their most rewarding journey. Instead of having to sort through dozens of products that don’t apply to them, customers are automatically routed to personalized pages for their line of work, which creates a more convenient buying journey.
The simple act of suggesting next steps ensures B2B customers get all the help they need. When a Fidelity customer changes their business address, for example, the automatic list of suggested next steps could recommend the customer order new checks or change their insurance. The proactive list helps customers stay on top of everything and prevents future issues from arising.
The B2B HVAC business uses AI to segment customers based on industry and location. Real-time data alerts the company to changes in weather and climate, so the company can address issues in areas hit by storms or severe weather. Offering an automatic and personalized experience for each customer helps relieve much of the stress of running a business.
To establish itself as an industry leader and provide resources for customers, cloud infrastructure company VMWare produces large amounts of content on blogs and user guides. To ensure content is accurate and timely, the company uses an AI-powered editor. The editor also sorts content to more accurately recommend the right articles to each customer.
Oil company Motorex created an AR-powered interactive factory tour to highlight the unique aspects of its product. As B2B customers toured the facility, they could stop at access hidden AR content with their phones. The tech-driven tour added transparency to the company and showed how it differs from the competition.
Data storage company Qumolo runs a portal called Qumolo Care that gives customers quick access to self-service resources and a community to share best practices and collaborate. The portal allows customers to take control of their own experience and get the most out of the product as possible.
B2B customers don’t want to be pushed into a large sale before they’re ready, so truck company Mack uses AI to nurture relationships until customers are at a point to actually buy. The company tracks the website activity of potential customers and only sends their information to a local dealer once they hit certain KPIs. The move helps salespeople know their leads are serious and stops customers from wasting time before they’re ready.
These 20 companies show the constant need to establish strong B2B customer relationships and provide innovative and convenient solutions.
This article first appeared in www.forbes.com
Guest Author: Blake Morgan, Senior Contributor, Customer Experience Futurist, Author and Keynote Speaker.