For a long time, while business to consumer (B2C) customer experiences leapt forward in terms of quality and innovation, business to business (B2B) experiences seemed to lag behind.
While there were certainly businesses doing innovative things, the average B2B customer experience was still often frustratingly slow, with companies failing to take advantage of digital tools and platforms to create seamless or self-serve experiences. Large volumes of B2B sales were still conducted in-person or over the phone, with sales cycles often driven by trade shows and slowing during holiday periods.
At least, that was the situation before the onset of Covid-19. But when the pandemic brought normal life to a screeching halt and overwhelmingly shifted day-to-day interactions into the digital realm, companies selling B2B were forced to adapt.
The pressure that B2B companies had already been feeling to bring the quality of their customer experiences up to the standard that was prevalent in B2C was quickly amplified. Those companies that already had digital, seamless and convenient experiences found themselves in a much stronger position, while those that didn’t quickly had to close the gap. Suddenly, things like ecommerce, personalisation and consistent omnichannel experiences were no longer a ‘nice to have’ – they were a ‘must-have’.
In this article, I’ll take a close look at some of the trends in B2B customer experience that have been emerging over the past couple of years, how these trends have been accelerated by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and how companies have adapted in response - before looking at what the long-term impact on the sector is likely to be.
This briefing covers: