B2B client engagement strategies can help you retain more customers if you know which best practices to follow. B2B engagement differs from B2C engagement in several important ways which require certain adjustments. Leveraging technology can help you implement the best practices you need to efficiently engage and retain B2B clients. These include engaging your customers from a 360-degree perspective, using support tools to help your clients use your product and taking a digital-first, team-based approach to customer success. Here we’ll consider the differences between B2B and B2C engagement before laying out three of the most important best practices for effective B2B client engagement. We’ll also cover how to use technology to automate these client engagement best practices for maximum efficiency and optimal results.
Why Are B2B Client Engagement Strategies Different from B2C?
B2B clients differ from B2C clients in a number of important ways which necessitate different engagement strategies. Some significant differences between B2B and B2C clients include:
- The B2B marketing and sales process often requires a longer, more customized cultivation of prospects tailored to their business needs, and possibly involving multiple layers of decision-makers and stakeholders, requiring stakeholder engagement as well as client engagement
- The B2B customer journey may involve a more complex onboarding and adoption process, often involving teams that need support rather than individuals as in B2C
- B2B customer success management requires going beyond reactive customer service to proactive teamwork promoting client success
These types of differences between B2B and B2C customer interactions underpin the need for a different approach when engaging B2B clients. Being aware of these differences and making allowances for them can improve the effectiveness of your client engagement strategy.
What Are the Keys to Successful B2B Client Engagement Strategies?
How do you leverage the unique characteristics of B2B customer interactions into a successful engagement strategy? For best results, we recommend using a digital-first customer success management approach which takes maximum advantage of today’s technology tools to automate best practices promoting engagement. Three of the most important best practices to follow include:
- Taking a 360 view of your customers for personalized interactions
- Optimizing self-service tools to pre-empt support issues
- Taking a team-based approach to customer success management
Together these strategies form a foundation for a digital-first approach that promotes maximum engagement by automating best practices for interacting with B2B clients. Here are some tips on how to apply each of these strategies and how to leverage technology for optimal implementation.
1. Develop a 360 View of Your Customers
Lumping all your customers into a limited number of buckets can make it difficult to promote the high levels of personalized interaction needed to engage and retain B2B clients. It’s important to provide individualized communication and support tailored to each client’s needs and goals.
However, trying to provide customized interaction to a large number of clients at scale can prove overwhelming for customer success teams if you’re relying primarily on manual methods. You can address this by placing technology at the forefront of your engagement strategy and using digital tools to automate engagement in a way that combines scaled efficiency with granular personalization.
A key to this is collecting all available digital data on your customers throughout their customer journey, from the free trial and onboarding stages through adoption and renewal. When you have this kind of complete 360 view of all your data on your customers, you can use customer segmentation to trigger automated engagement actions tailored to customer needs.
For example, let’s say your data indicates that a customer is struggling with onboarding. Totango’s Onboard New Customers SuccessBLOC can automatically trigger actions that support onboarding, such as suggesting tutorials to the customer or alerting a customer success agent that the client needs assistance. This combines automated efficiency with personalization, making your touchpoints feel more human even though you’re using technology to enhance your support.
2. Improve the Quality of Your Self-Service Tools
The better the quality of your self-service tools, the easier it will be for your B2B customers to find answers to their questions, and the fewer fires your team will need to put out. This makes providing a contextually robust knowledge base and online resources an essential component of a digital-first customer success management strategy. Giving your customers digital tools to resolve their own issues efficiently will increase client satisfaction while reducing your team’s support burden. One example to consider is customer communities as a way to facilitate customers helping one another.
It’s important to keep your knowledge base and resources up-to-date. As your product gets updated, your customers need to have current information in order to enjoy seamless adoption of new versions and features. Establish a routine of regularly reviewing and updating your support tools whenever there is a change to your product which calls for it.
Make sure that your clients are aware of your self-service tools and important updates to them. Include an orientation to your support tools as part of your onboarding process. Use 360 monitoring of user activity to automatically send relevant resource links to customers who are struggling with specific issues. Email your customer base when they should be aware of a new resource you have recently added to your knowledge base and to remind them of tools that exist but that they aren’t currently taking advantage of.
3. Take a Team-based Approach to Customer Success Management
When using a digital-first customer success management approach, adopting a team-based approach to supporting B2B clients can work better than relying exclusively on individual customer success managers. Commonly, customer success management takes a one-to-one approach which assigns one manager to each account. But in a digital environment, support issues and tickets are not always something that one person can solve. For some issues, a designated account manager may be appropriate, but for other issues, the right person may be a technical support specialist or a billing specialist, for example. Because so many team members touch one account, it’s important to ensure everyone is collaborating, which can be done through the use of technology.
Moreover, not every account necessarily needs a dedicated manager. For example, with low touch or digital touch engagement models, customer success managers often have hundreds of customers. While this may be the best approach for certain accounts, such as clients who require frequent customized attention, it is not the most efficient strategy for use at scale with large numbers of customers.
The most efficient way to handle customer success in a digital environment is to use technology to automatically assign a given task to the team member with the skill set best suited to the issue at hand. Totango’s Dynamic Assignment feature helps facilitate team-based customer success management by automating the process of matching customer requests to team members. Dynamic Assignment pairs your customer success resources with customers who need support by using criteria such as region, skill set and availability to optimize assignments. This increases the efficiency of your customer success management while delivering better outcomes to your clients and improving customer satisfaction.
Optimize Your B2B Client Engagement Strategies to Increase Retention
The differences between B2B and B2C customer interactions necessitate different strategies for engaging B2B customers. These differences include a more involved acquisition process, a more complex onboarding and adoption process, and a greater need for teamwork to manage customer success.
To take these differences into account, customer success teams should incorporate digital-first best practices geared toward the specific needs of B2B clients. These include taking a 360 view of clients which incorporates all available data for personalized interactions, optimizing self-service tools to pre-empt customer needs, and using teamwork to promote successful client outcomes. Technology plays a key role in putting these strategies into practice by enabling you to automate best practices that promote engagement.
The Totango Spark platform includes tools designed to help implement higher B2B engagement and retention. The Customer 360 SuccessBLOC module provides the complete view of customers you need to monitor and increase engagement, including KPIs for tracking customer health and automated workflows for proactively promoting engagement strategies. Try it free to see how Spark can help you increase engagement and retention of your B2B clients.