Here's a wakeup call for b-to-b marketers: Only half of b-to-b buyers said they would buy more from their current providers, on average, and only 39% are likely to recommend their current vendors to others. Those were some of the key findings from a study released Thursday by research company SiriusDecisions.
The study, "B-to-B Customer Experience," was based on a survey of 450 b-to-b customers, half of whom were executives and half of whom were users of business products and services -- including hardware, software, services and materials.
The study found that 80% of respondents said they base their buying decisions on customer experience, and only 20% said they base decisions on price.
The former figure is up from last year, when 71% of customers said they base their buying decisions on customer experience.
"For a lot of b-to-b marketers, very often you have products that sound really similar [to competitors]," said Megan Heuer, VP-research at SiriusDecisions. "What customers and buyers are increasingly looking for is a way to understand and get proof that their experience will be good after they buy."
The study found that 45% of b-to-b buyers said they did not get the value they were promised post-sale, on average.
"Most marketing organizations have plenty of people focused on demand, but almost no one focused on supporting customers after they buy," Ms. Heuer said, pointing to a big opportunity for b-to-b marketers.
"Ideally, a company has a customer experience leader who helps with the orchestration of these functions, including a blend of marketing, sales, support and operations," she said. "You want to have a customer marketing function that would do non-selling interactions for post-sale support."
As part of the study, SiriusDecisions looked at the various types of content and interactions with vendors b-to-b customers have during different phases of the buying process, and what types of content and interactions they would like more of.
During the early phase of the buying process, b-to-b executives said they use internet searches, large customer events, account manager calls and online demos. They said they would like more live webinars, engineer visits, user experience testing and solutions specialists.
Also during the early phase, b-to-b users said they use sales calls, sales presentations and white papers to evaluate products and services, and they want more blog posts (not from vendors), training documentation and training videos.
During the "advocate phase" post sale, b-to-b executives said they currently use LinkedIn content, industry events and online communities to receive support from their vendors. They would like to have more provider website content, mobile apps and value actualization tools, according to the survey.
During that same phase, b-to-b users said they currently use provider-sourced references, invitations to customer events and internet searches for support, but they want more buyer-sourced references, infographics and user groups.
"These are basic things people want and they are not getting," Ms. Heuer said. "What companies need to get good at is finding out what they can do to make the customer experience better in the post-sale journey."