Characteristics of Business-Customer Interactions
B2B customer interactions are influenced by what are typically long and complex buying processes and tend to be more relationship-based.
Describe how B2B customer transactions differ from B2C customer transactions
- B2B customer relationships generally feature high brand loyalty due to the amount of time and money invested during the sales cycle.
- During the selling process, B2B sellers may be required to meet with prospects and customers numerous times before the transaction is complete.
- Industry trade shows, exhibitions, conferences, and online communities are common places where B2B companies interact with both customers and prospects.
- webcast: A video and or audio broadcast transmitted via the Internet.
- Request for Proposal: A solicitation made, often through a bidding process, by an agency or company interested in procurement of a commodity or service, to potential suppliers to submit business proposals.
- customer relationship management: A widely implemented model for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients, and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. Also known by the acronym “CRM. “
Characteristics of Business Customer Interactions
Business-customer interactions occur over a wide range of communication channels, such as phone, email, web, and text. These exchanges also happen outside of organizational control such as conversations on social media. Although business-to-business (B2B) companies use many of the same communication channels as business-to- consumer ( B2C ) companies, certain characteristics of B2B customer interactions differentiate them within the marketplace.
B2B vs. B2C Interactions
Whereas the main interactions between businesses and consumers primarily occur during the transaction stage of the buying process, relationships between organizations and their business customers often move beyond the transactional nature of the interaction. Because the sales cycle can extend much longer than in B2C sales cycles, B2B companies seek long-term relationships with other business brands. Consequently, brand loyalty is much higher than in the consumer goods market due to amount of time invested during the B2B sales cycle. Whether the relationship is between a manufacturer and wholesaler, or wholesaler and retailer, a B2B transaction is perceived as riskier than B2C purchases due to the average value of each transaction. Buying machinery can cost upwards of a million dollars or more. In comparison, a tube of toothpaste may cost a consumer three or four dollars.
The investment amounts in B2B purchases are also much higher than in B2C purchases. Since there are more people involved in the decision-making process and technical details may have to be discussed in length, the decision-making process for B2B products is usually much longer than in B2C interactions. Thus, purchasing the wrong product or service, the wrong quantity, the wrong quality, or agreeing to unfavorable payment terms may put an entire business at risk.
Evaluation and Selection Process
The evaluation and selection process between businesses and customers can last for several weeks, months, or even years depending on the level of cost and complexity of the selling process. Often, B2B sellers must submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) to be considered for projects involving high-priced items such as software systems, financial services, or office equipment. The seller may be required to meet with the buyer numerous times before the transaction is complete. In these meetings, B2B sellers will often send sales representatives and executives to present and demonstrate how their products and services are more competitive than similar brands. During this evaluation period, the buyer may ask for prototypes, samples, and mock-ups of the product. Such detailed assessment serves the purpose of eliminating the risk of buying the wrong product or service.
Post-purchase B2B Interactions
The relationship between a business seller and its business customer does not end after the transaction is finalized. Customer relationship management tactics are used to monitor and encourage repeat business and customer referrals. B2B brands often court customers with ongoing communications including newsletters, webcasts, seminars, and other events that add value to the business-customer relationship. Also, sales representatives responsible for overseeing customer accounts may offer discounts or other promotions to facilitate repeat sales from existing customers.
B2B brands often have specific target markets that can be reached using direct online and offline marketing activities. Industry trade shows, exhibitions, conferences, and online communities are common places where B2B companies interact with both customers and prospects. B2B brands also use these events as opportunities to meet with customers face-to-face, hear concerns, and collect feedback for improving products and services.