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How to Manage B2B Customer Expectations Post-COVID-19

How to Manage B2B Customer Expectations Post-COVID-19

As the health crisis continues, businesses are compelled to handle customer expectations that radically change from day to day. The Coronavirus outbreak is showing no signs of slowing down and the world has been forced to adapt to the new reality and hope for the best. To satisfy customer demands, it’s paramount to make some changes. The way in which agencies and companies present their products and services and, most importantly, approach customers, needs to change.

Selling and advertising during these highly uncertain times is new territory. It’s necessary to actively listen if you want to make improvements in your business. In today’s marketplace, there’s a baseline expectation for quality customer service. To be more precise, a company should provide fantastic business-to-business customer support. Given that customer loyalty is essential for long-term business growth, you must go above and beyond the norm to manage expectations from beginning to end.

The global pandemic is an unexpected opportunity to improve and strengthen your brand strategy and put customers’ interests at the heart of your business. Undertaking proactive customer experience in the age of the Coronavirus isn’t overly difficult, but certain decisions must be made that may affect the final outcome.

Let’s take a look at the impact of COVID-19 on today’s B2B buyer.

Digital Transformation in B2B Sales

The experts at McKinsey draw attention to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed B2B sales. Buyers prefer the new digital reality for reasons of safety, but they wouldn’t mind going back to in-person sales. Digital exchange has witnessed a considerable boost as more consumers migrate online, regardless of what they need. It’s expected that this rise will continue post-COVID-19. The transition to digital and remote engagement isn’t an isolated phenomenon. Almost all B2B sales leaders have embraced digital in reaction to the omnipresent lockdowns in the early stage of the health crisis.

Expanding B2B Boundaries

Interestingly, the line between B2B and B2C is slowly but surely disappearing. Supportive enterprises, which offer other businesses the things they need to grow and thrive, are building or enhancing their B2C capabilities, offering the best of both worlds. We’re dealing with what is called a hybrid B2E – business to everyone, in plain English. This new business approach makes it possible to deliver personalized customer experiences to individuals that make up buying decision teams.

The Empathy Factor

Numerous studies have shown that there’s an intimate connection between customer satisfaction and repeat buying behavior. Chances are that you’re familiar with emotional intelligence. It’s the type of soft skill that B2B companies need to develop as the health crisis continues to unfold. Agencies and companies can’t afford the risk of coming off as empathy deficient. Just like B2C customers, B2B customers are looking for empathy and problem-solving from their suppliers. Not only does empathy create trust but also loyalty.

It’s Necessary to Compare and Investigate Customer Sentiment

The data gathered until now isn’t final, which brings us to the fact that it’s necessary to do more deep research across your industry and gather lots and lots of data. Otherwise, you can’t devise an appropriate plan of action to navigate these challenging times. It’s possible that you’ve headed into the COVID-19 pandemic thinking that your customers have nothing to complain about. This is where you’re wrong. The things customers expect right now aren’t the same things they expected a couple of weeks ago.

Obtaining consumer insights has never been so important. Put your management teams in contact with customers and get sound feedback. Better yet, if you want to get a good idea of how the market is doing during these troubling times, hire a market research firm for agencies and companies. The experts will help you understand how the world is reacting to the Coronavirus outbreak, covering important areas such as concern and impact, news sources, and so on. You can ask people the most pressing questions and dig deep into important topics.

A market research firm doesn’t deliver just data; it brings value to your company. The best part is that you don’t have to do the hard work. More exactly, the firm will gather much-needed information about your business buyer personas, target audience, and customers. The frequency with which market research should be conducted varies according to the business’ needs. Nevertheless, it’s largely agreed that continual market research is a necessity.

B2B companies must do this now more than ever to meet the standard of customer expectation that comes with improving its bottom line. As the health crisis continues to evolve, it will be necessary to re-launch this market research in the months to come to get a better understanding of the situation and potential consequences. The COVID-19 pandemic will bring about more changes across all aspects of B2B consumers’ lives, which will be reflected in buying behaviors, emotional mindsets, and core desires.

It Can’t Hurt to Do Your Own B2B Market Research

Even if your assumptions are validated, further details can’t hurt. It’s recommended to hire a firm specializing in B2B market research, but don’t hesitate to undertake your own investigation. It’s not difficult, but it’s time-consuming. In what follows, we’ll quickly present some strategies you can use to obtain non-negligible knowledge.

  • Recreate your buyer personas. Buyer personas are only effective if they’re updated. Recreating your buyer personas is important in terms of messaging, sales, outreach, and branding. Make sure your marketing efforts are reaching those who need you the most.
  • Don’t ignore social media. Social media will be increasingly appreciated post-COVID-19.  Many turn to online channels to express their views, feelings, and so on. If you really want to get to know your customers, have an active presence on social networking sites.
  • Track customer sentiment. Expectations, perceptions, and behaviors naturally change in a crisis situation. Having access to the right data can be a game-changer. You can build models of what the future will look like using data analytics tools.

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by Dirk DeBie // Contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.