The cardinal sin of B2B companies: neglecting the end consumer
As a COO of a B2B SAAS company, I make it my mission to understand exactly what our customers and consumers are looking for - and I don’t just mean the ones making the decisions. It doesn’t take much digging to realise that the decision to buy B2B is not taken by the company’s decision makers, but is also influenced in large part by those who are actually going to be using the product: the employees.
Within every company, introducing a new software is challenging and employee adoption is intrinsic to the success of the project. The truth is, however, that implementing some ‘business ‘solutions’, as they are so often dubbed, often leads to the opposite: business problems.
Whether it’s a new conference call system or an updated ERP system, there always seems to be an overly complex procedure in place which often actively works against a positive user experience. And the evidence shows that in the B2B world, customer experience is actually a bigger factor than price when it comes to buying œdecisions.
So if user experience is so important, why are B2B companies still neglecting it? There needs to be a real sea change in the way we develop and market our products in the B2B space, because ultimately, it’s the end-consumer that matters.
The cardinal sin of the B2B business
Part of the reason why so many B2B businesses end up selling tools that don’t do what they say they do - until two months down the line when employees finally get their head around it - is because it’s so easy to commit the cardinal sin of the B2B business - forgetting that the user isn’t just a business, but also a real life employee.
It is undeniable that B2B products or software are more complex than B2C but it is our challenge to design products that can be and feel easy and user-friendly while still offering a wide array of functionalities.
businesses aren’t inanimate objects, but are made up of living, breathing people
Most B2B companies are actually B2B2C companies. In other words, not only do B2B businesses have to be aware of to the consumers that they need to market to, but they also have to be aware of the consumers that make up the business itself.
It should be a no-brainer that businesses aren’t inanimate objects, but are made up of living, breathing people each with their own needs and personalities. And these people are the ones who are actually using your product and to whom the ‘solution’ should be tailored to.
As the founder of a business tool designed to make employees’ life easier on the expenses front, it’s an entirely logical conclusion for me, that the end-consumer - that is, the employee - should be front of mind when designing a successful product. If the employees’ experience using the product is a good one, then without a doubt it makes perfect sense for the businesses to which they belong to sign up. The customer is king - and employees are your customers.
Every single customer interaction is different and has to be treated as precious and unique. However - it’s also daft to focus on each individual customer interaction separately. Everyone uses products and services in a different way, so it’d be nearly impossible and certainly not cost-effective to look at each and every one of them.
every employee has a different level of awareness of tech
Take expense management software, for example. Everyone, from the lowest to the highest levels, is involved in the expense process. From the intern who expenses their tube ride, to the CEO who approves the expense, to the CFO and accounting teams who need to analyse, control and reimburse their employees - everyone has different tasks and roles that must be catered for. Your responsibility is to develop a product that provides a great user experience for everyone, no matter how and when they use it.
It’s also important to remember that every employee has a different level of awareness of tech. The junior executive might be a whizzkid with all different kinds of software, but a manager might not be as geeky. Your product should be easy to use for everyone from the tech-savvy to the tech-shy.
By creating a set of personas, using as much quantitative as qualitative data you can get your hands on, you can start working out how to tailor your product or service to the needs of everyone who will be using it.
When developing a product based around the end-consumer, it makes total sense to actually talk to this consumer. This is why, when you’re building software, it’s absolutely vital to implement a wide range of tools that allow the user to provide feedback directly to you.
In the past, this interaction would always be mediated by the business - but now it’s crucial that there is untempered communication between the user and the service provider so that problems can be solved swiftly and for good. Direct feedback through services like Intercom and chatbots provides better quality data for analysis, in order to ensure that the user experience is prioritised in the future.
it’s absolutely vital to implement a wide range of tools that allow the user to provide feedback directly
At Xpenditure, we’re confident that an approach which takes into account customer preferences through carefully curated analytic insights will bring value in the long term.
By tailoring customer service to multiple individual end consumers, businesses can ensure that even the most subtle problems don’t slip through the net. It’s by implementing these little hacks and solving issues customers don’t even notice that makes businesses really stand out.
When you’re developing your product, don’t forget the consumer. Always be aware of the multiple different types of people who might be using it - and remember that they aren’t an animatronic mass. That will make your brand loved by businesses and consumers alike.
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