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Beyond Conventional Channels: The B2B SaaS Guide to Omnichannel Strategy

Revenue Operations

B2B buyers in today’s market have gained significant control over their customer experience and expect the same level of personalized and tech-driven solutions that they encounter as consumers in their personal lives.

This has prompted B2B enterprises to recognize the importance of meeting these customer expectations and leveraging a robust omnichannel strategy to drive revenue growth and customer retention.

Companies that effectively implement omnichannel experiences can retain an impressive 89 percent of their clients on average. 

Research shows that 75 percent of B2B customers are inclined to make repeat purchases from suppliers who offer omnichannel capabilities.

In this article, we will explore the concept of omnichannel and its potential for driving profitability in marketing, sales, and service by creating seamless and integrated customer experiences. With that, we will see some tips on building an omnichannel strategy for your brand.

What is an Omnichannel Customer Experience?

According to HubSpot, omnichannel customer experience refers to a comprehensive and integrated approach that allows customers to seamlessly interact with a brand across various channels, devices, and touchpoints. 

Unlike a multi-channel experience where each channel operates independently, an omnichannel approach ensures continuity and consistency in the customer journey, enabling customers to transition between channels without disruptions.

It aims to provide a cohesive and personalized experience that meets customers’ expectations regardless of the channel or device they choose to engage with.

Here are three real-world instances showcasing B2B omnichannel experiences across various scenarios:

1. Omnichannel Account Management 

B2B companies use their own NPS software to conduct quarterly Net Promoter Score surveys and gather customer feedback. The customer success team leverages this feedback, along with usage data and support conversations, to have informed and personalized quarterly reviews with each customer, addressing their needs effectively.

This enables them to establish strong relationships with their customers, address their needs efficiently, and ultimately drive customer satisfaction, retention, and growth.

2. Omnichannel Customer Support

Consider a situation where a customer initiates a live chat conversation with a support agent to resolve an issue related to a SaaS solution. Later, the customer follows up via email. In an omnichannel experience, the email support agent can access the previous chat conversation and provide an immediate response, seamlessly continuing the support process.

This approach enhances the customer support experience by eliminating the need for customers to repeat themselves and reducing any potential frustration or delays.

It also demonstrates a customer-focused approach, where the company values and respects the customer’s time and effort by ensuring a smooth transition between channels.

3. Omnichannel Commerce

The global pandemic accelerated the digitalization of commerce, and businesses had to bridge the gap between digital and physical experiences.

For example, in e-commerce stores, inventory management systems were integrated to synchronize digital listings with physical inventory. 

Additionally, both B2C and B2B e-commerce stores incorporated track-and-trace functionality into their online tracking portals, allowing customers to monitor their shipments in real time and receive regular updates through alerts.

Crafting an Effective B2B Omnichannel Strategy

Building a successful B2B omnichannel strategy involves several considerations. Here are a few key points to keep in mind:

1. Create a seamless customer experience

Focus on meeting customers on their preferred channels and removing friction from their journey.

Prioritize performance guarantees, product availability, channel purchases, real-time customer service, and a consistent experience.

According to McKinsey's 2021 Pulse survey, B2B buyers now utilize an average of 10 channels to engage with suppliers, a significant increase from the previous five-channel average in 2016. 

This highlights the importance for B2B businesses to provide seamless and personalized experiences across these channels. 

To achieve this, B2B leaders need to focus on three key aspects: identifying the touchpoints customers have with the business, understanding their communication preferences, and integrating these channels effectively. 

However, many companies still struggle to meet the demands of all channels, which can result in significant costs. Poor customer service, in particular, can lead to significant financial losses, as customers increasingly turn to customer service when other touchpoints fail.

The McKinsey survey further emphasizes that B2B buyers have five core needs, including performance guarantees, online product availability, purchases across multiple channels, real-time customer service, and a consistent omnichannel experience.

Meeting these needs is crucial for B2B brands to secure customer loyalty.

2. Understand your customer’s journey and identify key touchpoints

To create a comprehensive omnichannel customer experience, it is crucial to identify all the touchpoints that customers encounter throughout their journey. B2B customer journeys are often complex and non-linear, resembling a maze rather than a straightforward progression. 

Research by Gartner highlights key touchpoints in B2B buying journeys, such as the company's website, social media platforms, 'dark social' interactions (e.g., private messaging channels), consultations, and information from sales representatives. 

For an omnichannel strategy, understanding customers’ goals is essential for tailoring offerings to meet their expectations. B2B customers typically go through a set of common jobs during their journey, including seeking information for decision-making, validating acquired information through consultations, peer discussions, and reviews, and aligning internal stakeholders involved in the buying decision.

It is important to note that customers do not rely solely on a company for content and details, particularly during the information validation stage. If customer reviews are not readily available, a significant portion of B2B buyers will seek alternative suppliers.

Thus, B2B brands delivering omnichannel experiences should consider leveraging loyal customers as advocates through referrals.

3. Understand the role of customer retention

Balance new customer acquisition with customer retention. Deliver exceptional experiences to retain existing customers and drive sustainable growth.

Research conducted by Optimove on over 180 brands highlighted two categories of revenue generation: those primarily driven by new customers and those primarily driven by existing customers. 

However, both categories faced long-term challenges. Companies heavily reliant on new customer acquisition experienced high churn rates, while those relying on existing customers faced stagnation and eventual churn.

The research further emphasized that companies achieving a healthy balance between acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones achieved the highest compound annual growth rates and overall success.

This underscores the importance of providing exceptional customer experiences at every touchpoint.

By focusing on both acquiring new customers and nurturing existing relationships, and thus implement an omnichannel strategy, B2B brands can sustainably grow their business.

4. Capture the omnichannel customer experience with NPS®

Implement Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys to understand customer loyalty, identify needs and challenges, and address issues along the customer journey.

Use NPS to gauge satisfaction, improve retention, and drive growth.

5. Close the loop at every level and on every channel

Actively respond to customer feedback and take appropriate actions to resolve issues. Close the loop with frontline employees, management, and executives to address customer concerns and drive improvements.

Set clear targets for closing the loop quickly, within 48 hours if possible. Establish processes, allocate resources, and measure the impact of closing the loop on customer retention and satisfaction.

6. Achieve customer-centricity with cultural and digital transformation

Implement change management programs to align technology, processes, and organizational structures.

Break down silos, integrate data, and ensure operational optimization to support your omnichannel strategy.

Organizational misalignment has a detrimental impact on the effectiveness of digital platforms, as revealed by a B2B omnichannel report from Forrester. 

The report also highlighted the challenges faced by B2B companies in implementing their omnichannel strategies.

According to a survey conducted within the report, 36% of these companies identified conflict between different channel organizations as a major obstacle. This was closely followed by limited staff skills at 32% and resistance from employees or management at 31%. 

5 Success Factors For Moving To Omnichannel Sales

Five key factors contribute to the successful transition from a multi-channel model to an integrated omnichannel model in sales.

These are responsible for effectively managing channel conflicts, leveraging digital capabilities, and fostering collaboration across functions.

1. Customer centricity

To deliver seamless and engaging customer journeys, forward-thinking companies prioritize the needs of their customers in their omnichannel strategies.

More than 50% of B2B companies in the United States conduct extensive primary research to gain deeper insights into customer decision journeys, with top-performing companies leading the way. 

They analyze transaction logs and conduct targeted research to understand customer preferences at each touchpoint and stage of the decision-making process. These companies develop comprehensive, fully integrated buyer personas and effectively manage relationships across channels. 

For instance, a large technology company faced stiff competition from smaller, customer-centric rivals. In response, the company revamped its customer experience by creating a digital customer experience platform. They conducted a pilot program involving over 450 customers to better understand their needs and offer more tailored recommendations. This initiative resulted in increased satisfaction, reduced customer churn, and a boost in digital sales.

2. Holistic approach

Companies redefine the role of each sales channel and establish supporting functions that span across the customer journey.

This includes generating leads, upgrading online presence, and providing dedicated customer service, enabling a seamless experience across channels. 

An example of this is a specialty chemicals company that developed a tailored B2B omnichannel strategy based on its unique business model and customer base. They established three distinct sales channels (field sales, inside sales, and distribution) and implemented a clear channel allocation approach.

3. Proactive channel conflict management

Many companies have experienced increased competition between their field sales roles and inside sales due to remote work, as well as concerns about their relationships with distributors, which have hindered their progress in e-commerce.

However, rather than avoiding conflict, successful businesses proactively address it by using segmentation to determine the best fit of channels, customers, and products/services. This involves mapping the customer decision journey, modeling the economic impact of channel shifts, and conducting war gaming exercises. 

An industrial tech company provides a notable example of this proactive approach. To increase revenue, improve margins, reduce dependence on third-party distributors, and enhance customer relationships, the company focused on increasing direct online sales. To mitigate the risk of channel conflict, particularly with dealers, the company conducted quantitative research and interviews to map the customer decision journey by segment. These segments were defined based on factors like interaction preference, average order size, purchase frequency, and expected lifetime value.

4. Digitally enabled sales and marketing

A strong digital foundation is crucial for successful omnichannel transformations. This includes investing in the right technology, integrating sales and IT, implementing marketing automation and analytics, and utilizing digital marketing and sales to drive personalization at scale. This enables organizations to leverage advanced analytics and cutting-edge sales tools for significant improvements.

Marketing automation with digital analytics is another key element, facilitating activities like cross-/upselling and dynamic pricing. Leading companies also utilize digital marketing and sales to achieve personalized experiences at scale.

For instance, an agricultural input distributor experienced remarkable improvements in revenue and performance through its omnichannel transformation. To enhance lead generation for sales teams, the company adopted three key strategies. 

  • It utilized various data sources to compile digital lists that were directly distributed to individual salespersons. 
  • Secondly, advanced data and analytics were leveraged to develop live dashboards, enabling effective tracking of performance and value capture. 
  • Lastly, customized lead lists were employed to support digital marketing and campaigns, ultimately boosting conversion rates. 

The implementation of a new platform was underpinned by a flexible and scalable technology and data infrastructure, ensuring sustainable long-term success.

5. Agile cross-functional collaboration

Successful businesses embrace agile ways of working and foster collaboration across commercial and growth functions. This involves attracting or developing the right talent, forming cross-functional agile teams, enabling rapid decision-making processes, and fostering close collaboration between RevOps and commercial departments.

For instance, a travel company leveraged revenue operations methodologies and agile practices to construct an effective B2B platform within a remarkably short timeframe of four months. This endeavor involved the formation of cross-functional agile teams comprising developers, designers, and product and business managers. Regular meetings with project sponsors facilitated swift decision-making and allowed for prompt resolution of obstacles.

Furthermore, the marketing and commercial departments worked closely together to ensure the creation of a cutting-edge platform that maximized revenue generation and customer satisfaction.

Conclusion

B2B brands need to fully embrace omnichannel customer experience to meet the changing needs of B2B buyers. Implementing these strategies successfully requires significant effort, but the benefits make it worthwhile.

B2B companies that make a company-wide commitment to achieving omnichannel excellence can experience transformative results. By being early adopters, these companies can gain a competitive advantage, realize cost efficiencies, enhance customer satisfaction, decrease customer churn, and drive business growth.

It is crucial for companies to take ownership of all touchpoints in the customer journey, gaining measurable insights through transactional and relationship surveys to understand buyers’ needs, pain points, and successes.

Successful omnichannel experiences require support and commitment from all levels of the organization and the right technological capabilities. While internal conflicts and data-sharing challenges exist, forward-thinking companies can seize the opportunity to invest in the right platforms to stay ahead.

If you need a helping hand to analyze the omnichannel strategy for your business, book a consultation call with us now.

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