Buying and Selling the Omnichannel Customer Experience

B2B buyers and sellers must rethink their approach to customer engagement as they struggle to establish seamless experiences across existing channels.
Customer Experience

For B2B executives, many present engagement initiatives are rooted in their personal experiences as consumers. These leaders expect consistency and personalization at each stage of the purchase journey when interacting with companies on an individual level. Yet, while both B2B buyers and sellers are now empowered by digital technologies, few have mastered the ability to transform their personal aspirations into business strategies.

Forrester Research's recent "Mastering Omnichannel B2B Customer Engagement" report explores evolving B2B buyer demands and B2B seller omnichannel practices. Commissioned by Accenture Interactive and SAP hybris, the study surveyed 750 B2B companies and 1,307 B2B buyers, highlighting that, whileB2B sellers have been working to build out their omnichannel capabilities, making progress in offering digital touchpoints along the way, most still find it difficult to weave everything together to offer seamless customer experiences.

The following statistics demonstrate what buyers and sellers have accomplished with regard to digital, what they expect from the buyer journey, and what they still need to work on to achieve the ideal omnichannel experience:

  • Meeting customer expectations (74 percent), providing consistent experience across channels (65 percent), omnichannel's higher lifetime value (64 percent), and driving additional efficiencies and cost savings (60 percent) are the primary drivers behind the average organization's investment in omnichannel initiatives.
  • B2B buyers are more likely to buy again from a supplier if they have transparent prices and product details (19 percent), if they track purchase habits across different channels to give personalized recommendations (16 percent), and if they have the broadest selection of products or services (13 percent).
  • Marketing and sales find it very challenging to craft personalized customer experiences at the discovery (29 percent), awareness (28 percent), and interest (27 percent) stages of the average purchase journey.
  • While customer name (60 percent) and levels of client satisfaction (56 percent) are readily available across all sales and marketing channels, fewer buyers and sellers have access to data on products and services researched (40 percent) and information about the clients' businesses (39 percent) across channels.

Key takeaway: Because buyers seek personalization across all stages of the customer journey, sellers must do their best to provide experiences that surprise and delight the customer, much like B2C interactions. Data sharing technologies and well-trained salespeople are essential, but leveraging such tools requires constant measurement and refinement, as digital engagement strategies must continuously evolve to meet changing customer needs. Overall, buyers expect engagement anywhere and everywhere they conduct research and complete their purchases, indicating the significance of seamless experiences. B2B sellers must eliminate silos as they adopt an enterprisewide digital strategy that aligns technology, organizational structure, and processes to fully leverage their omnichannel capabilities. Each day, B2B buyers think more and more like their B2C counterparts, so sellers must reconfigure their current engagement strategies to make business more personal.