Customer journey map is a versatile tool that allows businesses to walk in their customer's shoes and get a better understanding of how and why customers interact with the business. In long-term B2B relationships, customer journey mapping is essential.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the importance and intricacies of B2B customer journey mapping. We’ll also provide a list of the key B2B customer touchpoints and walk you through the process of creating a B2B customer journey map.
B2B Customer Journey Map
Customer journey is a holistic representation of all the interactions a customer has with a company, from discovery to purchase and post-purchase. A customer journey map is a visualization of the entire customer journey from beginning to end.
In B2B, a customer journey map highlights all the touchpoints a client has with a company, which allows the sellers to get an insight into the customers’ decision-making process, identify pain points, and optimize customer experience, which ultimately leads to more sales and revenue. The B2B customer journey starts with the customer acknowledging a problem or an unmet need and ends with post-purchase support or ongoing relationship management.
Customer journey B2B vs B2C
While B2B and B2C customer journeys involve similar stages, B2B customer journeys are more complex and multifaceted. Firstly, B2B purchases involve multiple decision-makers that participate in different stages of the decision-making process and have unique expectations. For example, executives might want the most affordable solution that the team might not find as convenient. Secondly, the order value in B2B is usually much higher, so every customer is valuable and can make a big difference for the company. Lastly, the B2B buying journey is more complex and may last for several weeks or even months.
The Importance of B2B Customer Journey Mapping
For B2B relationships, customer journey mapping is particularly important. Here’s why.
Businesses often make the mistake of focusing too much on their product and not having a deep enough understanding of the customers and their buying process. Customer journey mapping allows businesses to get a bird's eye view of the customer journey and stay focused on customer needs and expectations. A well-crafted customer journey map can help the seller see its product from the buyer’s perspective, provide proactive support, and optimize customer experience.
Understanding complex purchase process
B2B customer journeys are not as straightforward as customer journeys in B2C. While that makes customer journey mapping more difficult, it is also more important and effective when done right. In B2B, you need to impress different employee segments with unique priorities and needs. By creating a customer journey map, you can identify which touchpoints are working in your favor and which ones need improvement.
B2B customers expect you to have a deep understanding of their businesses and provide a high level of personalization. By mapping the customer journey, sellers can identify opportunities to deliver tailored experiences, address specific needs, and provide relevant information at each stage. With a detailed customer journey map, you can make sure you’re not neglecting any touchpoint or actor and provide seamless customer experience throughout the customer journey.
B2B Customer Journey Touchpoints
B2B customer touchpoints are the various interactions that occur between a business and its customers throughout different stages of the customer journey. Here's a breakdown of the typical stages in the B2B customer journey and some examples of touchpoints that may occur during each stage. Remember that touchpoints can vary depending on the industry, target audience, and business model.
- Industry conferences and events
- Trade shows and exhibitions
- Online advertising and display ads
- Social media presence and engagement
- Content marketing (blog posts, whitepapers, e-books)
- Search engine optimization (organic search results)
- Webinars and educational events
- Case studies and success stories
- Product demos and free trials
- Comparison charts and feature matrices
- Vendor websites and online product information
- Third-party review sites and testimonials
- Sales presentations and proposals
- Pricing and negotiation discussions
- Customized product demonstrations
- Technical documentation
- References and referrals
- Competitor analysis and benchmarking
- Order placement and invoicing
- Contract negotiation and signing
- Procurement and purchasing processes
- E-commerce platforms or online ordering systems
- Vendor management and due diligence
- Onboarding and implementation support
- Customer training and workshops
- Account management and relationship building
- Help desk or customer support services
- Feedback surveys and satisfaction measurement
- Renewal reminders and upselling/cross-selling opportunities
B2B Customer Journey Map
Creating a B2B customer journey map involves visualizing the entire customer journey, from initial awareness to post-purchase support. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you create a B2B customer journey map:
1. Identify your customer personas
Start by defining the different types of customers or buyer personas you’ll be interacting with. When you understand their characteristics, pain points, goals, and motivations, you can tailor the journey map to specific customer segments.
2. Outline the stages
Identify the main stages in the customer journey based on your typical sales process. Typically, that includes stages like awareness, consideration, evaluation, purchase, and post-purchase but ultimately depends on your specific business model.
3. List customer actions and emotions
For each stage, identify the key actions your customers are likely to take and the emotions they may experience. These actions can include researching solutions, attending webinars, evaluating proposals, making a purchase, etc. Emotions can range from frustration and confusion to excitement and satisfaction.
4. Identify touchpoints
Map out the interactions that customers have with your business at each stage. This includes online and offline touchpoints such as website visits, social media engagement, phone calls, meetings, etc. Consider all possible channels and customer touchpoints throughout the journey.
5. Capture customer goals and pain points
Understand the goals your customers have at each stage and the pain points they encounter. Goals can be things like finding a solution to a specific problem or streamlining their operations. Pain points may include budget constraints, complex decision-making processes, or lack of information.
6. Evaluate customer expectations
Determine what customers expect from your business at each stage. This could be timely and relevant information, personalized assistance, quick response times, or a seamless purchasing experience. Understanding these expectations will help you deliver the right experience.
7. Analyze gaps and opportunities
Compare the customer expectations and goals with the actual touchpoints and experiences you provide. Identify any gaps where customer needs are not being met to find opportunities to enhance customer interactions, streamline processes, or address pain points.
8. Visualize the customer journey map
Create a visual representation of the customer journey map. This can be a flowchart, infographic, or any other format that helps you visualize the stages, touchpoints, customer actions, and emotions.
9. Refine and iterate
Regularly review and update the customer journey map as you gain more insights and feedback. Continuously iterate the map to align with changing customer expectations, market dynamics, and business goals.
B2B Customer Experience Best Practices
Follow these tips to optimize your B2B customer experience.
Measure loyalty and retention
To determine whether your customer relationship management efforts are successful, you need to constantly measure and analyze customer retention and loyalty. By calculating metrics like Customer Retention Rate or Net Promoter Score, you can gauge customer satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.
Understand the emotional reasoning
While B2B decisions are less emotional than B2C decisions, it’s important to consider the emotional motivations of your customers. For example, an executive may express that they are looking for a cheap solution because they want to find the most cost-effective tool for their business. If you can demonstrate that investing in a more expensive tool could lead to more sales and higher revenue, the executive might realize that the more expensive tool is actually more cost-effective.
Optimize processes with AI
Using AI-powered tools can help you make the customer experience more convenient and improve your B2B customer retention. Whether your customers are businesses or individuals, every improvement and update should be based on customer feedback. After the purchase, B2B customers are usually interested in continuing and improving their relationship, so they are willing to provide more qualitative feedback. By analyzing that feedback with Essense, you can get valuable suggestions for your business and optimize your B2B customer journey. Powered by AI, Essense turns unstructured data into actionable insights in just a few clicks.