A customer journey map for the B2B segment is one of the most useful tools for customer experience improvement. It includes all the touchpoints and interactions a customer has with a business, from the moment they find out about a company for the first time, to a post-purchase period.
Each company usually has very few people (if any) who can see the entire customer journey. Most team members know the part of it that is directly connected to their responsibilities, and a very vague idea of what happens in another part of the company. Consequently, processes that seem to be effective and make much sense on a local level, can cause major issues in a wider perspective.
In this article, we'll cover:
How Is the Customer Journey Map for B2B Different?
The main and obvious point here: as with the B2C segment businesses deal with a lot of customers making small orders, the importance of each individual journey is lower. It’s not the case in B2B, with its fewer but bigger and more expensive orders, that make an individual journey crucial.
- Teams in the B2C segment mostly deal with one (sometimes two) decision maker, while service providers in the B2B segment often need to interact with multiple people in different positions, who influence purchase decisions. Not all of them are actually visible, but they still need to be taken into account.
- B2B orders are typically large, which makes a buying process long, including a lot of steps and requiring multiple discussions.
- Due to a long buying process, people involved in it can change right in the middle. Also, at a certain touchpoint, customer representatives hand over communication to another part of the team, for example, during or after product implementation.
- The number of people taking part in a purchasing process and using a product can be dozens or even hundreds. Each of them can have different expectations, requirements, and complaints.
Despite all the differences here, one thing customers in both the B2C and B2B segment have in common is a need for the best customer experience. Clients in B2B are often associated with the brands they represent, but it doesn’t change the fact that purchases are made by people, and these people require not just satisfying, but personalized experience. According to a Salesforce report, 72% of business buyers expect to receive personalized engagement, and it is our job to meet their expectations.
Main Customer Journey Stages
Here, we offer main phases of a customer journey that will help us in the process of customer journey mapping for B2B. They can be adjusted according to the specifics of every business. Each step should include organized touchpoints and be aligned with a specific goal.
Needs Identification & Awareness
In B2B, a journey for businesses often starts as they are already aware of their issues and actively seek a solution. Another case — they can come across our advertisement online, our website or social media page, and discover that our product or service covers a need they didn’t realize before. At this stage, awareness can be generated by various digital marketing means (targeted ads, SEO, blogs), public relations, and presence at professional events.
Interest & Consideration
A client is already introduced to our brand and looks for more details, defining our ability to resolve their issues. They can try to do it themselves, paying attention to reviews and comparing our offer to competitors, or get in touch with our company directly. As about 74% of buyers in B2B perform detailed online research before contacting a vendor, we need to be serious with the content we publish. To make sure the client’s interest is going to convert into a deal, our website or other materials offered at this stage should contain clear encouraging calls to actions. As soon as the client contacts our company — is a moment when sales representatives usually come on stage, defining the client’s pain points.
Decision & Agreement
A client makes a decision, choosing the product or service that fits their needs. Compared to the B2C segment, this process is typically more formal, as it includes a number of contacts and approvals required. Usually, it takes 27 interactions for a potential buyer to make a final purchase decision, and we need to ensure a seamless experience at each stage.
A client starts using a product or service, gets familiar with it, and implements it into their everyday work. At this stage, it is important to support the client at each step and help them make the most of our product. Providing them with guides and demos is good, and these materials should be done sufficiently, but we need to be ready to answer all the customer’s questions and help them get a memorable first experience.
At this stage a customer wants their needs to be resolved effectively, they expect us, as a business, to deliver the promise we previously made. Delivering the best customer experience here is crucial, as a poor one is likely to cause turnover, and a good one will help build brand loyalty. Typically, customers turn to support teams or account managers regularly, so it is a chance for this part of our team to show themselves. If we have a skillful and professional support team, their communication with customers is going to create a solid foundation for future relationships. Also, it is important to be proactive, encourage customers to give feedback, and actually take it into account.
At this stage, we need to strengthen our relationship with a customer, provide them with a consistent positive experience and, possibly, circle back to the consideration stage or close a new deal. There are two key points here we want to take a closer look at:
- Customer loyalty. While collecting customer feedback, we need to know how likely they are to recommend our brand to others. If we manage to ensure a top-notch experience, our customers can potentially become our brand advocates. Personal recommendations are still one of the most powerful marketing tools, so we should always take them into account.
- Repeat purchase rate. How likely are our customers to make repeat purchases? Or, if it is a service we offer, how high is our renewal rate, are upsales or cross-sales possible?
- Engaging content. While building up or rethinking our digital marketing strategy, we need to consider website traffic, blog views and the time spent on the page, newsletter engagement, etc. We need this information to define how useful our content actually is, how our existing and potential customers engage with it, and where we are losing them.
Each business’ customer journey may contain more or fewer stages, depending on their peculiarities.
Building Up B2B Customer Journey Map
Before starting with a map itself, we need to prepare. We will need a deep understanding of customer experience and all everything that influences it, so we can follow a checklist to collect all the data we will need:
- Touchpoints between our company and customers (each offline and online interaction)
- Obstacles and bottlenecks that can make customer churn along the journey
- Key points that mark a possibility of “make or break” customer relationship
- Departments and people responsible for providing customer experience at each stage
- Company performance at each touchpoint
- Ranking the importance of every touchpoint
- Risks at every touchpoint
- Customers’ emotions we want to evoke at each point
As we are ready to start with customer journey mapping, there is one mistake to avoid. It may seem easy to just put all the points on the map according to workflow. This would be an example of a company-oriented mindset. If we want our map to reflect customer experience, we need to focus on a customer-centric perspective. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the steps for creating a B2B customer journey map.
Portrait Our Buyer
We are familiar with a buyer persona technique that shows itself effective in the B2C segment. But in B2B, there are usually multiple people involved in the decision-making process. With a complex B2B solution, we can face 6 to 10 people with different responsibilities. And we will have to take their requirements and level of influence on the decision itself into account. Still, we can draft our typical or ideal buyer using the following points:
- Company size
- Team size
- Number of customers
- Buying process
Having a clear picture of our buyer persona would help us to look at each stage of the process with our client’s eyes and direct our journey map towards them.
Define Client’s Goals
Here, we are going to need as much information about our clients as we can get. Our sources can be a client’s feedback, direct interviews, surveys, customer support tickets, data from our customer success team, and so on. We need to understand what our clients’ goals are, what their needs are, and what value can we create for them.
Engage Your Team
Our team can be great assistants in tracking customer journeys. Though they cannot be the main source of information, we can still get a lot of useful insights from senior managers at different departments, project managers, or customer-facing employees. There is a useful practice of creating a customer journey map at a workshop, involving all necessary team members, to get a unified picture of how they see a customer’s journey.
Structure Main Touchpoints
As we already know approximate or more specific customer journey stages, it’s time to specify the touchpoints. We need to pay attention to each time our potential or existing customer contacts our brand, and we have a chance to create a positive or negative impression. It can be anything — from ads, sales meetings and customer support, to direct emails, Google review, guest posts on a blog they follow, or our affiliate representatives. We need to put each of these points on a map and understand how things can go wrong at each point. Our newsletter email remains unread? A customer opens our website and sees a 404 error? We need to define these bottlenecks and calculate how many people we are losing at each point.
Make Failures Into Opportunities
We have defined the points where negative impressions can appear — they are called pain points. Fixing each of it gives us a new opportunity to improve customer experience. We should always pay attention to emotions that our customer experiences at each step. Though in the B2B segment, purchases are believed to be data-driven, there are still humans making them. Humans follow emotions, and it is our responsibility to create positive ones.
Keep Track and Make Improvements
The last step to a better customer experience is to analyze all data and implement all necessary improvements to make sure there are no blocks for our customers on their journey.
But is it really the last one? Working with a B2B customer journey map is a continuous process. We need to keep on gathering feedback from customers and constantly monitor the situation as it evolves.
Efficient customer journey map for B2B segment requires focusing on customer’s perspective and having a deep knowledge of all the journey stages. Composed properly and updated regularly, it helps businesses create a top customer experience and build up strong long-term relationships with their clients.
During the process of customer journey mapping, some of the most valuable insights we can get are from team members from different departments. They know each point of the process inside out and can add a lot to the perspectives. But the first people we should hear are our own customers.
Getting a top-notch experience, our customers can become true advocates of our brand, spreading the word about it. We need to recognize them as our key to a strategic long-term growth.
Anastasiia is a professional writer with a diverse background. She used to write about IT, logistics, business, but now her main interest is customer support and communication. Anastasiia’s biggest passion is reading — she prefers books over anything. She believes that the greatest thing a keen reader can do is to write themselves.Posted on