While the importance of customer journey analytics in B2C has been long proven, the significance of customer journey analytics in B2B cannot be overlooked. B2B sales are characterized by
Complex and long buying journey involving multiple individuals and departments
Deep relationships and trust-building
High stakes and value of deals leading to risk-averse approach by the customer
We will make an attempt to provide our point of view on why Customer journey analytics is essential in B2B and the approach companies can take to realize the benefits.
1. Build situational fluency - B2B buyers scramble through a fusillade of information much before a sales rep can engage them. However, the overwhelming nature of competing data, often with conflicting information from suppliers may lead them to delay or much worse, abandon a purchase. Driving an approach of placing information objectively in a way that removes doubts from the minds of the customers will go on to build confidence and the buyer looks at the seller as a steward who can help during the buying journey.
Customer journey analytics puts you at the heart of critical information which will enable customers to repeat their interaction with your brand based on the pre-sale, sale, and post-sale experience you offer. Capture information around all the touchpoints (online and offline) and utilize touchpoint collections to understand the buyer’s journey, emotions, and needs during their learning process. A consistent effort to give personalized service, well-curated information at their preferred time and location is the key differentiating factor for a customer to go ahead with a purchase plan. In the case of a wavering customer, customer journey analytics allows you to reformulate your strategy to gain his/her confidence and win back a customer!
As per Gartner Study, during B2B buying, 62% of the time is spent on learning
2. Create an early warning system to reduce churn and increase conversion - The B2B marketplace operates in a competitive environment with the entry of new players, and business/customers often switch to another seller/supplier. A small percentage change in customer retention can translate into sizable revenue.
While suppliers, vendors, and influencers compete to offer convenience, transparency, and flexible options with shorter deal cycles, utilizing customer journey analytics can be singularly disruptive with granular detailing giving way to behavior-driven engagement.
Intelligence gained from data sources such as websites, databases, and web chat gives you a vantage point even as you get a comprehensive view of the participation, conversion, and dropout rates at important junctures along the journey. Certain peculiarities and conflicting patterns emerge which make it easy to identify at-risk customers, thereby helping you reduce churn with interesting offerings that can act as a possible purchase decision.
3. Sustain engagement and increase customer LTV - Customer journeys in the B2B marketplace often throw up a convoluted pattern as RFP procedures, large project requirements, and technical superiority in offerings often define these journeys. As the pace varies with each customer straddling both online and offline channels, discovering the critical moments during this journey can open up a cross-sell or up-sell opportunity and allows you to focus on customer lifetime value. Customer journey analytics touches upon the human aspect to deliver a highly personalized experience.
Using interviews and other interaction modes to supplement qualitative information about each customer is a great way to sustain the engagement, and as important as integrating the critical touchpoints in your strategic priorities. Cues such as a customer's recent interactions and the latest product and support experiences are key to advancing a purchase decision.
A multinational company developed a framework that allowed its representatives to ask questions to boost customer confidence at key points in the buying process. In another instance, a well-known IT company came up with the idea of a platform that allowed sales representatives to understand the context of the customers and pitch relevant content to them, thus increasing seller productivity.
4. Allocate a budget for customer journey analytics
As per Gartner Research, the marketing expense budget for technology in some companies is 27% (i.e. 3.24% of revenue).
With technology spending gaining a bigger share in the marketing budget pie, get an alignment with the executives on the importance of customer journey analytics and carve out a separate budget for standing up a platform and for stitching data from various sources (supply chain, marketing, sales, customer care, etc). Creating high-impact engagement by repurposing technology stacks can be a winning strategy that can boost returns.
In B2B half or more of all marketing spend is misaligned and sales could be up by 10% and churn down by 30% in year 1 using customer journey analytics. (Aberdeen Group)
And better still, predictive analytics will allow you to be fully proactive and in charge of your CX. The organization needs to become aware of the potential of customer journey mining and the need to start collecting and harnessing your data now!
A McKinsey research states that satisfaction with customer journeys can potentially increase customer satisfaction by 20 percent, propel revenue by up to 15 percent and lower the cost of serving customers by as much as 20 percent.
Customer journey analytics demands a data-intensive approach that tracks a customer's interaction in a pervasive omnichannel environment. Analyzing a mass of data points in a journey gives way to a customer's most frequented path and preference patterns.
Utilizing journey analytics presents answers to inherently complex queries that among other things, attempts to understand the buyer's emotional response during the most important touchpoints of a purchase decision. For instance,
Which top quartile of customers took this path?
What steps did the buyer take prior to the purchase?
Which path the buyer did not pursue before the call?
What is the buyer's preferred time for interactions?
What is the most effective channel to interact with the customer?
What other paths were chosen by some customers?
What defines the type of customers taking each path?
In what way can you add value to the customer in a given path and address the pain points?
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