Written by Vivek Jaiswal | Co-founder, Customer Guru
With over 300 million users on LinkedIn and over 3 million business pages, LinkedIn has become one of the best places for B2B marketing. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn has maintained a niche as a professional’s social network – over 33% of all professionals in the world are LinkedIn users. This undoubtedly lures businesses to pitch their B2B products through LinkedIn ads using sponsored posts and banner ads on the platform. What’s better is that LinkedIn can help engage with potential clients almost immediately; generating qualified leads that have a higher conversion rate. I don’t know about you, but I like to check the kind of engagement sponsored posts generate. One such advertisement I ran into was from Ola Corporate. Ola is an Indian competitor of Uber – the biggest taxi hailing services provider, and, in my opinion, the Ola Corporate ad pitched a novel idea. Ola is pitching businesses to book their corporate taxi requirements through Ola. Unfortunately, the impact of that campaigns seemed to have fizzled out because there were several people complaining about their bad experience with Ola, on their ad post! See the screenshot below:
In an earlier post – “The dark arts of bad customer reviews, and how it can kill sales” I touched upon the subject of how bad customer reviews influence people against buying your product. Similarly, the above example shows how social media marketing could act against you if your customer experience doesn’t support marketing. I believe, customer experience is even more important in B2B, where repeat business is important and most sales is relationship driven. If you are a B2B business thinking of running a social media campaign, make sure your customer experience is exceptional lest your marketing campaigns back fire. Here are 3 more reasons why customer experience trumps marketing in B2B:
1. The power of brand is declining
With the advent of the information age, the bargaining power has completely shifted towards clients. Potential clients can easily read about and compare experiences of other people with a brand and accordingly make their purchasing decision. Brands have commanded, and some still do, a huge power in luring consumers to buying from them. However, as highlighted in an article published on Harvard Business Review, the equity of brand value in a company’s fair market value is declining.
The above chart was drawn using M&A data of over 6,000 transactions worldwide between 2003 and 2013. It shows the percentage of brand and customer relationship valuation in total enterprise value. Among other tangible assets, enterprise valuations also include non-tangible assets such as brands (trademarks) and customer relationships (goodwill). The charts show that, in 2013 percentage of brand value in enterprise valuation reduced to almost half of where it was in 2003. On the other hand, the share of customer service value increased almost three times in the same period!
It is clear that even strong b2b brands face bigger competition from new comers who are focused on delivering exceptional customer experience.
2. Whether you listen or not, your clients are talking about you
Social media has made sharing opinions and views super easy for people. It has almost become second nature for people to share anything and everything on their social media. Twitter, for example, is full of people sharing their bad experiences with all kinds of businesses. Now whether these businesses react to such tweets or even acknowledge them or not, there will be others who would read it.
How companies react (or not) to their social media mentions, leaves a lasting impression in the minds of their clients who might come across them. The flip side of it is that if you deliver a great experience, your clients will go out and talk about it on social media! A recent example I’ve seen is this post from a Hubspot client claiming – Hubspot is Awesome! and defending Hubspot from an angry bout by a disgruntled employee. This is a great example of what you could achieve by delivering great customer experience; because whether you care or not, your clients will end up talking about you. And remember: the internet never forgets!
3. Customer experience improves customer retention, which improves profitability
In B2B businesses, customer retention is prime. Unless b2b companies can retain their clients, it would be impossible for them to grow. And one of the most important facets of client retention is customer experience. This is particularly important in subscription based business model where a customer becomes profitable only after it has stayed for a particular period of time. And as long as the client stays, the company has an opportunity to sell more to it. However, that opportunity is lost if the client isn’t having a good customer experience. How could you sell more services to someone who is already unhappy with you? As much as marketing is important to acquire customers, real profitability lies in delivering great customer experience and retaining the customer as long as possible.
In conclusion, while marketing will never lose its importance, it is being re-aligned with customer experience. Referring back to the Ola example above, marketing would find itself powerless if customer experience doesn’t support it.