In last weeks post we spoke about what customer lifetime value (CLV) is, how customer expectations are changing in the B2B space and how companies can begin to become more customer centric.
This week we will focus more on the practical challenges that adopting CLV can present to B2B companies. We will talk a bit about tech, getting buy-in from stakeholders and connected journeys in B2B.
Let’s dig in.
Technical Challenges of CLV in B2B
The B2B sales process tends to be very complex.
There can be many different buyers involved in one purchase, lots of decision makers and the actual purchase itself can be delayed over months. There can also be a lot of legal and compliance complexities involved, especially in sectors like healthcare and finance.
So creating human-centered buying experiences or, going further, personalized experiences is technically very challenging. Especially at the scale required in the B2B space. But to truly adopt CLV, B2B companies need a technical platform that will allow them to be more customer focused.
Potential Content Management System Issues
Unfortunately, standard content management systems (CMS) like Magento or Shopify are unlikely to be able to deliver these types of experiences for a B2B purchasing funnel.
It is at this point that B2B companies may need a technical partner (or several) to help them adapt to the new expectations of B2B customers, sometimes referred to as “B2ME”.
A custom built digital experience platform (DXP) is one solution for B2B companies. With a DXP in place B2B companies can deliver personalized experiences at scale, seamless O2O or omnichannel experiences and dynamic content. Plus you have the added benefits of integrated payment processing, CRM and analytics integrations all purpose built for your business.
MAQE can help to deliver a full custom DXP for your B2B business. So you can get in touch with us via [email protected] if that’s an avenue you want to explore.
However if a custom solution is not the right fit for you, you can learn some lessons from the B2C space. You may want to consider segmented platforms for different customers where you can deliver a more personalized experience for those customer segments specifically. This can be achieved with more standard content management systems and a combination of different platforms and tools. If you need some help with this, MAQE can support that too!
Actions You Can Take:
- Think about your technical needs
- Collaborate with external partners
- Use microsites for specific customers if a unified connected system is not practical for your business
Connected Journeys in B2B
Our current “always on” culture demands constant connection. The “power of now” is one of the most crucial aspects of the B2C purchase journey.
This presents problems in the B2B space where purchases can take a long time to complete.
But B2B companies can begin to adapt to new customer expectations. Part of this is removing the silos discussed in part 1. Every team involved in the purchase journey should be fully aligned and working together as one unit. For example, new B2B customer expectations will demand a seamless handoff between the sales team and the customer support team.
The key to creating a connected journey in the B2B space is to cut down “waiting” at every stage. Technical solutions for this can include implementing more “self-service” options for key customers which can be created using the technical solutions described above.
The new reality for the B2B space involves giving the customer more power to solve their own problems. But the complexities arising from this in certain verticals are clear, however newer “B2ME” purchasers will expect a seamless connected journey.
One simple solution can be a chatbot that answers the most common questions a customer may have. This saves your team time and helps them to focus on more complex issues and cuts down “waiting” for the customer.
Anything that gives your customers more power and saves time will have a positive effect on customer lifetime value and retention.
Actions You Can Take:
- Give your customers more control
- Break down those silos!
- Your teams have to work together to give the same experience at every touchpoint
- Innovation impresses customers and provides a differentiator from competitors who may operate in a more “legacy” way
Appealing to Internal Stakeholders
As discussed, CLV is a simple metric to understand. But as we have seen, fully adopting it can be very disruptive to a business. Implementing the necessary technical and cultural changes to become more customer centric can cause big shifts in budgeting and understanding of performance. For a B2B company that is used to conducting business in a more traditional way, it can be a lot to take in.
This is why education is key.
One method to begin the process of becoming more customer centric and adopting CLV is to focus on education first. Stakeholders and colleagues need to be able to see the benefits of being customer centric. Be transparent about the experiments that need to take place and the impact it may have on workflow. While the changes outlined above will all be beneficial to CLV, more education means it is more likely that these changes will stick long term. Which then makes it more likely that your CLV will improve over time.
The important thing to remember is that you know your business better than anyone. You know where the problems are and what needs to be done. It is important to adopt CLV and customer centricity, but it is more important to adapt to the unique needs of your business. Fully explaining the benefits of using CLV as a metric and implementing more customer centric processes will help you to adapt your B2B company to new customer expectations.
Actions You Can Take:
- Educate your teams on customer centricity and CLV
- Be transparent about possible impacts
- Remain adaptable and not dogmatic about CLV
- Use available resources and best practices (like this) to generate excitement about what adopting CLV can mean for the future
Talk to MAQE
If you need some help with the technical and cultural challenges of adopting CLV, talk to MAQE. We know that change like this can be tough. But we will be there to help you every step of the way. Talk to us via [email protected] to start your journey.