The B2B customer journey is one of the best tools you can use to understand your customers. A good customer journey map will help you understand your customers and the thought processes they face when buying your product, from pain points and bottlenecks where they leave to good interactions and services that keep them coming back.
Understanding your customer’s journey from when they first become aware they have a problem to post-product satisfaction will help you optimize your processes to create satisfied customers who advocate for you.
A good customer journey map can be the difference between business growth and a high customer churn rate. B2B customer journeys are more complex than B2C customer journeys, making mapping their journey all the more important for your business.
What is a B2B Customer Journey Map?
A B2B customer journey map is a visual representation that shows all the processes your customer goes through before, during, and after buying your product.
The customer journey should include pain points and bottlenecks where your customers may decide to go to one of your competitors. However, the most essential function of a customer journey map is to show you how to optimize your processes and decrease those pain points, creating a more positive customer experience.
Why B2B Customer Journeys Are So Important
The B2B customer journey is far more complicated than B2C customer journeys. That’s because in B2B journeys there’s more than one buyer, and the buyers might not be the same as the users.
The buyers are usually the senior management while the users are typically lower-level employees. This matters because you’ll have to find a way to market and appeal to both of them. Knowing what each segment wants will help you market and support them more efficiently.
Moreover, it takes far longer for businesses to come to a decision on whether to buy your product or service. Months longer than the typical B2C customer, and they typically perform a lot more research than B2C customers as well. Ultimately, B2B customer journeys are longer, more complex, and as a result, much harder to chart accurately.
A customer journey map can show you where they feel like they should drop you, where they need more support, and in general help, you see where you need to focus your resources to keep more customers and make sure they’re happy.
Why Does Customer Journey Mapping Work?
You probably already have a good idea of what your customers are thinking, right? Wrong. You feel that you know what your customers think when they buy your product. Your company’s internal perspective on what customers think and feel is often wrong.
The reason journey mapping works is because it is data-based. Data gathered from customers who’ve enjoyed your product and are happy and those who decided to drop you for something else.
Those who dropped you are especially vital as they indicate processes you can improve that could keep future customers like them.
What Makes B2B Different From B2C?
They both start with a problem, seek a solution, and either end up satisfied or go somewhere else. That’s where the similarities end.
In B2B transactions, there are frequently many decision-makers in the business that decide whether to go with your product.
The B2B customer journey includes many different people, from the buyers to the users, to the buyer-users, and they all have different pain points, needs, and experiences.
Trying to map all this out can be complicated, but the result is worth it. A good B2B customer journey map will give you a comprehensive view of your buyers and how you can optimize your business processes for them.
How a B2B Customer Journey Map Can Benefit You
Now that you know what it is, why do you need one? Well, understanding your consumer is vital for any business. Visual representation of how customers move through your company processes is invaluable for marketing and sales. They’ll know how to target the customer and when.
This understanding is also valuable for fulfilling your customer’s needs and supporting them. It lets you know what to expect when your customers contact you for support, how you can make complicated processes such as delivery and conversion easier for them, and just in general, improve your customer’s journey with your business.
Benefits of a B2B Customer Journey Map
● Create a high-level view of the customer journey
● Establish buy-in on the senior level
● Help employees understand the customer’s view and needs
● Increase employee engagement
● Curate a better customer experience
● Increase advocacy of your brand
● Better results in generating and acquiring leads
● lower churn rates
● Boost customer retention, increasing lifetime value
● All-around business growth
How Can I Create My Own B2B Customer Journey Map?
All customer journeys have seven steps, awareness, consideration, conversion, delivery, support, loyalty, and advocacy.
The first step in the customer journey is awareness. Being aware of your customer’s needs will help you with this. The beginning of the journey is when customers realize they have a problem and actively seek out a solution. The best thing you can do for this step is to rank high on search rankings so customers can find you swiftly and efficiently.
Consideration is when the customer researches your product and service and compares them to your competitors.
Having readily available materials is vital for this step, such as white papers, demos, videos, and other readily available online research materials. This step in the customer journey is crucial for the next step.
Conversion is everyone’s favorite step in the customer journey. The customer researched all their available options and decided you were the best. They’ve contacted you and are ready to pay up and buy your service.
The buying experience is vital to customer satisfaction, and having good business practices for their purchase is essential. The buying process should be painless and easy for the customer.
Delivery may be the most critical step in the B2B customer journey. Your company has to fulfill all of the promises made during the previous stages. Delivery of the product should be fully supported and easy for the customer.
Business success comes from customer success, so you should do everything you can to make sure they succeed. While delivery may be critical, so is this.
You need to continue supporting your customer, answering questions about the product, helping with issues that arise, and supporting the customer in all aspects of your product. Nurturing current customers is the best way to ensure you get new ones.
Positive customer experience and support for the product or service you’ve given will lead to customer loyalty and trust in you and your product.
They’ll be more likely to keep you in the future, boosting customer lifetime value, especially for companies that offer services such as SaaS companies.
The best advertisements are words straight from the consumer’s mouth. Good brand experience will lead to testimonials and glowing reviews, bringing in more customers, starting the process anew.
This last step in the customer journey helps you get more customers to feed into the process again, creating a never-ending loop of success for you.
Data, Data, Data
You need to get customer feedback from every step in the process, from your customers, from people who went to another company, from people who dropped you, from everywhere customers contact your company.
Customer feedback data is what drives your customer journey maps. That said, you don’t need to gather everything solely from customers.
It might be helpful to ask departments and people who regularly contact customers, such as sales teams, customer service representatives, and support departments. They all have regular contact with customers and are essential touchpoints in the customer journey.
Why Research Is Important
Market research is crucial to learn about your core customer segments, and compiling that data into a readable chart is a daunting task. However, the journey mapping exercise is key to understanding the buyer’s journey. In B2B journey mapping, you need to prove you’re worth your market share to the buyer and ensure they’re satisfied at all the journey stages.
Often the people buying the product and the people using the product are two completely different sets of people, so the buying journey is long and complicated.
That is why data analytics is so crucial for B2B customer journey mapping.
It gives you a clear view of how the customer moves and feels throughout their experience with your company. Customer journey analysis helps you see where customers fall through the cracks and how you can patch them.
Remember Data, Not Internal Perspectives
Remember, you should use data for your customer journey map, not your internal perception of the customer journey. B2B customer journey mapping relies heavily on data as it’s overly complex and can have many more customer touchpoints than B2C customer journey mapping.
A good customer journey map helps you identify where you can do better, while a bad one sits on a poster in your office. So gather data on as many different touchpoints as possible to optimize your business practices.
Who is your ideal customer? Understanding your customer’s journey doesn’t mean much unless you know who’s walking it. That is why you should create personas. Personas are caricatures of your ideal customer, who they are, and what they need.
In B2B customer journey mapping, personas can get messy because there’s more than one buyer, and buyers and users may not be the same people, which is why you should include personas for all of them. Buyer personas, user personas, buyer-user personas.
Include their job title, company size, what they’re looking for in your product. The customer needs between buyers and users might differ, and their decision-making process focuses on different things.
Learn About Your Consumers
Buyers tend to focus on value, while users focus on your product’s integration and usability. So you need to create these personas and find different ways to target them. You should ensure you are getting through to your target audience and even create profiles for the ideal company you would like to work with, like what industry they should be in and how many employees they have.
You should have a good idea of whom you want to work with and check if your current clients match this profile. If they don’t, you may wish to change your marketing strategies to target the B2B customers you want.
Buyers tend to focus on the value you bring to the business. This includes high-level management and stakeholders in the company. They tend to be critical near the beginning of the journey stages but warm up to you once you prove your worth to them.
They’re focused on whether your product or service is worth the money to them. So make sure you’re providing plenty of value.
Unlike buyers, users are focused on the usability and versatility in your product. They want something that’s easy to learn and integrate into their workflow. They’re typically the ones doing the research to see if your product is a match for their needs, so give them plenty of materials that prove your support and versatility.
Managing Your Customer Experience
Positive customer experiences don’t just manifest out of thin air. You have to curate them. Journey mapping is one part of that. Once you understand how the customer moves through your processes, it’s time to update them.
Update all of your processes to give better customer experiences, whether that’s more frequent calls to check up on the customer, update your website with new research materials showing your company’s value, or even get a better delivery process and support system.
Everything should come back to the customer, and if you’re doing it right, you’ll see it reflected in an updated customer journey map.
You’re Not Done Yet
Mapping your customer’s journey is just one step in the process. Afterward, you need to identify critical touchpoints, identify pain points and relieve them, open up bottlenecks and confer with your department heads on how to improve processes to improve the customer journey.
Moreover, improvements don’t just end. You don’t finish your journey mapping and optimize your processes just once. You should repeat this process every year or two to make sure you’re on top of the ball for customer success and satisfaction.
Change the Way You Think About Customer Service and Customer Satisfaction
Finally, you need to change how you think about your customer experience management. The touchpoints you interact with stretch across your whole company, and even departments that don’t come into direct contact with customers can be improved to offer a better customer experience.
You can use everything from your sales process to the purchase process and even your marketing efforts to enhance your customer relationship. Journey mapping is just one step of this process, along with personas and fulfilling your customer expectations.
Change the Way You Think About Customers and Watch Your Business Thrive
For example, sales reps familiar with personas can better target buyers and users to give more effective pitches. Having a B2B customer journey map your employees are familiar with increases employee engagement and helps senior management optimize their department’s practices to make the end-to-end experience perfect for customers.
Customer success and satisfaction also lead to better lead generation and lead acquisition. When customers see testimonials or receive recommendations, they’re more likely to move to the purchase stage and buy your product or service.
High customer service and satisfaction also lead to repeat business, making it easier to acquire enterprises who’ve used you before. All of this leads to more business growth for you, so customer success is integral to your own goals.
Keep In Mind
Customer journey mapping isn’t easy, especially B2B customer journey mapping. But at the end of the day, you need to remember it’s about the customer experience. You want to manage the customer journey to create a better customer experience.
Here are some of the most common questions about the B2B customer journey
Awareness, consideration, conversion, delivery, support, loyalty, and advocacy are the seven steps every customer journey map needs to take in order to succeed.
The buyer persona, which is the fictional representation of the customers you are targeting. The pain points, which is the reason customers hesitate to buy or bottleneck the business. The customer’s emotional journey as well as their actions and thoughts and finally the touchpoints, which is where the business has some kind of contact with the customer.
First you have to identify what your business is all about, how it’s organized and how it makes decisions. Then you have to do the same, but in this case, for the customer. Once you have perfectly placed who is who, understand each one’s needs and desires. Finally, map the journey into phases.