There are clear differences in B2B and B2C, but one thing remains. It is people who make the purchase decision. And especially in B2B, the customer as a person is often neglected. He only wants one thing: the customer wants to be understood. And this is exactly where the concept of the customer journey comes into play. Knowing the customer journey is important, because it is not only important to recognize the customer's problems and help resolve them, but also to address the customer wherever he is. The customer journey refers to the process and the sub-steps that your potential customer goes through on the way to the final purchase decision.
The four central phases of the customer journey in B2B:
Your customer becomes aware of a problem for which he is now looking for a suitable solution. We all know it: The first point of contact is the search engine with the colorful letters. In the course of this, make yourself aware of the enormous importance of SEO keywords! Your potential customer can only become aware of your company through cleverly displayed content. And even more important: on the solution that you offer to his problem. In addition to search engines, there are numerous other touchpoints to potential customers that should be taken into account, e.g. social media channels, local media, podcasts or events.
The research has been carried out, now the potential B2B customer wants to obtain offers and compare them with one another. The aim here is to identify the provider who offers the best possible solution to your customer's problem. At this point, trust is built and the offer is explained.
Transaction / transaction
The customer has decided on (D) an offer! The sales team is asked to negotiate the terms of the offer and to clarify open details. Attention: Always keep in mind that the purchase is not yet fully processed. Even in this phase of the customer journey, the buying process can still fail!
Commitment / commitment
Even if you have now completely convinced the customer of your offer and the purchase is complete, your customer's journey is far from reaching its destination. Not only the acquisition of new customers plays a major role in B2B, but above all the care of existing customers. After all, you want to benefit from the positive testimonials from your customers, don't you? In the age of online recommendations, these are worth their weight in gold and often attract new customers to the land. In this phase, service, support and knowledge sharing are very important.
The major difference between the B2B and B2C customer trips
Isn't a customer always the same? Let's start with the basics to find out the exact difference between the customer journey in B2B and B2C. At first glance it is clear: The customer groups are divided into individual and corporate groups. But wait, that's not all. Unlike in B2C, many interest groups and people are involved in the purchase in B2B. So not just the one who later signs the sales contract! This is what makes the customer journey in B2B so complex. So it is logical that the Purchase decision process usually extended over a long period of time in order to serve all interests equally. Of course, this can also be the case in B2C in exceptional cases, but by and large this is atypical here.
In order to be able to analyze and optimize the journey of your customer, more and more companies are using the customer journey map method. The aim is to make possible weak points in the service of your company visible by visualizing a standardized customer journey. You will now find out how exactly this works and which steps must be followed.
How To: Create a Customer Journey Map
1. Define buyer persona
“Who is my target group, who is my product or service aimed at and which customer needs must be met by my product?” A clear answer is often difficult to find in the B2B world, and yet it remains essential. Because the buyer persona is the basis for understanding your customer's customer journey
– and finally to be able to optimize. The analysis of the buyer persona is the prelude to creating a customer journey map.
You should consider these points when creating a buyer persona:
- Name, age, rough characteristics
- Job, position, income
- Daily business and tasks
Your customer in connection with your company:
- What makes us as a company interesting for our potential customers?
- How did our potential customer find us?
- What information does our potential customer need to make a purchase decision?
- For what reasons should our potential customer choose our offer?
2. Identify touchpoints
Once the buyer persona has been defined, the next step is to define the steps your customer will go through in their buying process. These are also called touchpoints. This means the points of contact between your customer and your company.
Questions that you have to ask yourself in this step are: Where did the customer first hear from you? How does he get in contact with you? Which service does he accept or request? Slip into the role of your customer to research which processes he goes through until a sales contract is finally concluded. A good way to do this is through customer surveys.
3. Visualize the customer journey map
In order to be aware of the individual steps of the customer journey, it helps to visualize all stages graphically. Black and white will make it easier for you to identify possible weak points in your process. But don't worry: Artistic talent is not required here, individual stick figures do it too 😉. The only goal should be to be able to put yourself in the shoes of your customer in the best possible way.
4. Recognize gaps and pain points
The analysis shows which steps have already been optimized and are running particularly smoothly in your company. That's great! You should expand these QuickWins in a targeted manner. It will be more difficult to admit the so-called gaps and pain points. These are the places where your company is still lacking and the customer is not picked up by your service offer 100%. Keep an eye on the competition and ask yourself: Where does my potential customer jump and choose a stronger provider?
5. What's next?
After you've completed your analysis, it's time to turn words into actions! Derive concrete measures based on your pain points and quick wins. How can success be measured - what are your KPIs? What are the concrete, next steps that the company should take?
A short summary:
- The customer wants to be the focus, his wishes want to be heard! All measures should be geared towards meeting the needs of your customer.
- It is important to have a clear overview of all the steps your customer goes through up to the final conversion.
- The breaks or gaps in the purchase decision process can be determined in a targeted manner. What is still lacking in the company? Which processes need to be optimized? Where do new touchpoints have to be created?
- Concrete measures can be derived from the findings of your customer journey, which help to promote targeted marketing and campaign planning.
- With the new measures, not only does the conversion rate increase, but also the turnover of your company. The work is worth it!