A lot has been written recently (I might be responsible for 20% of that…) about the discrepancy between B2C and B2B when it comes to how brands communicate. Here’s the thing, B2B brands have been treating their clients like crap for a long time. And they’re not going to get away with it anymore. The way we are interacting with technology is moving at such incredible speed that B2B will need to step up.
Thinking Facebook bots here and the recent talk of Google Android Instant Apps, applications able to run instantly without installation, we are in serious Sci Fi territory here. And now taking a quick look over at B2B interactions…it’s very clear that is it NOT Sci Fi territory. In fact, it’s “Stranger Things” era more than anything else.
p.s. If you haven’t watched Stranger Things on Netflix — do it now.
We’ve established in B2C that it’s no longer enough for a brand to just be on Instagram and post a pretty picture for you to buy its products/services. We now expect brands to intrigue us, interact with us on a personal level and entertain us in clever ways. We want brands to communicate with us across social and answer our queries with helpful suggestions and maybe a discount or two.
You never forget a brand who’s offered quality help when you needed it most. And when it comes to choosing between two brands who offer the same type of service, you’ll definitely go for the helpful one.
Back to B2B land for a second — the degree of exciting interaction and helpfulness from brands selling to each other tends to be somewhere between 0 and -5. B2B seems to completely miss the point that they too are dealing with people. People who are used to the excitement and convenience of that B2C tech.
Take WeChat for example. It has over 700 million users who now, because of its own payment service, WeChatPay, don’t need to leave the app to make payments. Why isn’t this common practice in B2B? It is a natural step of the procurement process yet when it comes to B2B, the status quo is still cheque payments and one-by-one bank transfers as opposed to a one click payment solution brought to you by…technology.
Speed and convenience are the two key factors of an intuitive service. Those two key factors are almost unheard of in B2B. Because it’s work, it almost can’t be either. Definitely not both.
Technological advances are starting to shift those levels of expectation in B2B. And the more we get accustomed to B2C brands being like personal assistants to us, the more those brands we encouter through work will have to step up or shut up. Or get out of the way of the brands who get it.
Duplicate form filling, list submitting, manual data entry and landline calls are such time-consuming procedures and they’ve remained unchanged for such a long period of time that it’s a wonder B2B companies make any money at all. There’s so much out here (in the real world) to transform these tasks.
Technology is all about making people’s lives easier. The doorstep economy has taught us that whatever brings speed and convenience into our lives is a good thing and people embrace it. Lets understand once and for all that brands can no longer manage their relationships with other brands just by getting a contract signed and then continue like it’s 1999. B2B brands must earn their contracts as they’re rolling. They must earn the trust 0f the people buying their goods and services. Earn the admiration of those people by helping them get things done, when and where it counts.