I just got back from a B2B trade show in Las Vegas, representing the publishing company where I work, to sell our online products to our B2B customers. As part of my research of each customer, I visited their website to see what their Internet presence looked like. I looked at about a dozen websites, which ran the gambit from pretty good to not very good at all (ok I’m being a little nice – some were pretty bad).
What was the difference between the good sites and the bad sites? Whether they are customer-centric or company-centric. Customer-centric sites recognize that B2B customers come to a website to do research for a buying decision or to find service or support for products they’ve already purchased. These sites provide white papers, in-depth product descriptions, training, service and support. Most importantly, it is easy for a customer to find exactly what they are looking for through good web design (usability) and search functionality.
As shown in our previously discussed research from American Business Media and the Washington Post, and confirmed in research from the Nielson Norman Group, B2B Decision Makers use the web to conduct research for buying decisions. According to the Nielson Norman Group research, B2B websites measured a mere 58% success rate, compared to the 66% for mainstream websites (this is success of the website visitors being able to accomplish their goals in visiting).
How do you become a customer-centric website or improve your customer experience?
Finding What They Need
Think about what your customers may be looking for when they come to your website. Taking a look at your analytics to see what keywords are used to enter the site from search engines and what paths visitors take through your website can give you valuable insight on what information you need to provide or make easier to find. If you have an internal search function, take a look at what visitors are searching for through it as well. Visitors often turn to a search when they cannot find what they’re looking for on the homepage or menus.
Organize the information on your website in a logical, easy-to-find manner. Place top level menu links on every single page of your website. These top level links should be descriptive and easy to understand (ex. Home, Products, Services, Help). Your homepage can contain a lot of information, but make sure there is enough white space for eyes to easily scan through it for important points. Product or Service pages should include everything needed to make a purchase decision, including a ballpark price and detailed specifications.
Once a visitor has made a decision to purchase (or to get the final information before purchase), it should be easy for them to find your contact information. Placing information on every Product and Service page (or even on every page of the website) and having a Contact page puts the information right in front of their fingers. Provide both a phone number and an email address since some customers are very busy and email is easier for them. If you do have products with fixed prices, consider an eCommerce solution with a shopping cart to allow your customers to make a purchase as easily as possible.
Support and Loyalty
Make your website a place your existing customers can use by providing information and training about your products, including white papers, spec sheets, webinars, podcasts and training videos. Adding community to your website through forums, comments and blogs can help you connect with your customers and provide valuable feedback through direct communication. Embrace any customers who post about problems by addressing their concerns in a fair manner. Use their insight to improve your product and your customers will feel more loyalty to your brand.
Good B2B websites focus on customer-centric designs to fulfill the needs of their customers who in turn will be more satisfied and loyal.