In their quest to provide the seamless buyer experience customers expect just as much now as quality products and services, B2B brands are scrambling for stability in the CX landscape—and they’re escalating the pressure on the comms agencies and vendors they partner with to help them meet this as-yet-elusive goal as buyer priorities shift, according to new research from data-driven customer experience management provider Merkle.
The firm’s newly launched global B2B Superpowers Index serves as a guide for brands endeavoring to deliver exceptional B2B experiences and increase their customer base. The report was developed by Merkle B2B, which provides an integrated suite of specialized capabilities, tailored to the needs of global B2B organizations.
“B2B brands and buyers are looking for more from their vendors and partners. Much like we’ve seen in the consumer space, a subpar experience isn’t cutting it anymore, and B2B is finally entering the CX arena,” said Patrick Hounsell, Merkle’s activation and global B2B lead, in a news release. “We’ve seen increased similarity in how we approach B2C and B2B loyalty, and the biggest focus has become customer experiences. Just as marketers are elevating CX for consumers, B2B sales and marketing teams must do the same for their buyers.”
As the economy continues to face challenges, de-prioritizing B2B relationships could hurt brands in the long run. The index reveals the key factors that influence buying decisions, providing context, key learnings, and recommended applications of findings to ensure business leaders have a roadmap for success.
Insights from this year’s research include:
The competitor landscape in B2B is growing
On average, B2B buyers are evaluating a higher number of potential partners when making purchase decisions, and are taking longer to make their final decisions—creating further obstacles for B2B brands looking to win new business.
The B2B performance gap is narrowing
The performance gap continued to narrow between leading brands and second place contenders. This divergence underscores the increased competition in B2B markets, and the critical importance of continuous innovation. More and more B2B buyers are making decisions to eliminate existing suppliers or make changes to their vendor roster.
Buyers need to feel safe, and that’s now a priority in buying decisions
One concern that didn’t surface in the inaugural 2019 report is the importance of feelings of safety in signing a contract with a supplier. Safety as a decision factor has been skyrocketing to the top of many buyers’ lists, and is now one of the most important factors influencing vendor selection.
“As B2B sees a period of growth, it can be intimidating for leaders to anticipate and understand the needs of buyers,” Hounsell added. “This indispensable index provides direct access to insights into what today’s B2B buyers want most. Prioritizing the customer experience will not only improve relationships in the near term, but also help build long-lasting partnerships for years to come.”
This global research report combines quantitative and qualitative data from B2B buyers across different industries—including technology, financial services, manufacturing, and professional services—and across key markets around the world. It is the third edition of the Superpowers research survey, which tracks year-on-year trends and aims to support B2B brands in developing strategies for the future.