Customer care is self-care: why marketers should prioritize customers

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Admind on how prioritising customers will lead to more sales and deeper customer relationships.

Customers have the power to dictate the success of a B2C business. BBP's Jerome Langford considers how and why brands can make this a more prominent part of their sales proposition.

Generally, a purchase is a one-time deal. You walk in, pay for some good or service, and you walk out. As far as aftercare goes, you expect some level of consumer protection, such as the ability to get a refund – but ultimately, we tend to have a short-term, transactional relationship with what we buy.

Put simply: when you buy a tool in a hardware store, you don’t expect the salesperson to come home with you and show you how to use it – you’re on your own.

Aftercare in B2B

Comparatively, what is sold in a B2B environment is typically specialized and highly complex. Customers themselves often have needs and challenges specific to their situation. This contrasts with B2C, where most sales revolve around one-size-fits-all solutions to common issues. You might need some help setting up point-of-sale systems for your own particular situation, but we all use frying pans the same way.

This combination of complexity and specificity creates a lot of troubleshooting, especially while B2B customers are in the onboarding phase. There's an expectation of aftercare across a product or service lifecycle that you just won’t find in almost any B2C setting.

This is where customer success management comes in (or customer support, or CX). It should be a key part of your sales proposition. Don’t let your marketing output focus solely on your product. Yes, you may be rightly proud of all the bells and whistles, and of course they go front and center, but spare a thought for making aftercare a visible part of how you go to market.

Customers want to know you will be there for them when things go wrong and that you have the means and expertise to make things right. Do you have training and how-to resources? Banks of FAQ answers? Consider not just the end-product, but the journey the customer will take from initial purchase to deployment and beyond.

Selling customer care

One of the most common mistakes in B2B marketing is that sellers relentlessly focus on the potential upsides and benefits of what they sell. Buyers do too, but also consider potential drawbacks and how things can go wrong. It’s a divide between an optimistic and pragmatic mindset, and you need to bridge that gap in your marketing if you want to reap the most value.

This gap exists because sellers are looking to make sales and whatever comes next isn’t half as important. But buyers have to live with their decisions (and part with money for them), making them cautious. Feature-rich is all well and good, but the vast majority will be willing to lose some features in exchange for peace of mind and assurances that they are in safe hands.

With that in mind, you should consider carefully the tone you want to strike. The current trend is toward having a bold tone-of-voice (TOV), but while eye-catching it comes with some risk. When you say: ‘what we sell can do x, y, and z,’ the silent implication is ‘...if you can get the most out of it.’. Homing in on the product in this way puts the pressure for finding success with it onto your customers.

When taking a step into the unknown, customers want to know about you and whether you will be collaborative, supportive, and be a part of their process. Your output should reflect positively on you, not just what you sell. Putting your support process out there as a perk is not an admission of fallibility, it’s a declaration that you are realistic and cognizant of the issues your customers face. That kind of honesty goes a long way.

Account-based marketing

With that in mind, it’s worth considering (where possible) deploying an account-based marketing strategy (ABM) to target desirable accounts more directly. By demonstrating a deeper understanding of their individual issues and how your solutions can tackle them, it generates far stronger buy-in. There isn’t a better way to convince a prospect that your solution is for them than showcasing that you have an advanced understand of their challenges.

So what do you get out of all of this? Essentially: more sales and deeper customer relationships. And good customer relationships aren’t just their own reward (although they do bring revenue growth of 10-15%). They breed repeat business and retention, can be leveraged as success stories and testimonials, and build your reputation by word of mouth. When 92% of B2B leads use reviews to guide their purchasing decisions, it’s a no-brainer.

In other words, it’s good to both talk the talk and walk the walk. Don’t forget to put time, thought and energy into providing top notch customer support and don’t forget to showcase that effort in your marketing.