“B2B buyers are shopping at work like they do at home,” declares Avanade [pdf] in a white paper containing results from a commissioned survey conducted by Wakefield Research. That viewpoint is based in part on data showing that a majority 61% of B2B buyers are informing themselves about enterprise products and services through 3rd-party sources before consulting a vendor’s salesforce, with 89% saying that these 3rd-party sources are a factor in their purchase decisions. What’s more, many are communicating publicly about their purchase experiences.
According to the survey, after purchasing a product or service for their company, 42% reviewed the vendor on a 3rd-party website, while 32% posted a review on social media channels (such as Facebook or LinkedIn) and 19% posted comments on Twitter.
Given that buyers are using 3rd party sources – whether those be 3rd-party sites, feedback from a business partner, social channels, or conversations with peers who already have experience with the product or service – to inform their decisions, the comments posted on these sources by buyers will likely factor into the decisions of others. That increases the importance of vendors providing a positive customer experience, and separate results from the survey underscore that importance: within the past 6 months, 56% of purchasing decision-makers said they paid more for a product or service because the customer service was better than the cheaper alternatives. On average, buyers report spending 30% more for an improved customer experience.
Another theme running through the study is the use of technology in the buying and selling process, which research has found to be moving more online. More than 8 in 10 respondents reported changing at least one business process in the past 3 years to better interact with customers, and technological investments figure prominently. Some 44% said they increased their investments in customer sales and support technology; of those, 55% invested in mobile devices, 54% in social media, and 53% in mobile applications.
Such investments seem to be paying off: among those that built new business processes and technologies to improve their customer interactions, about 6 in 10 reported increased customer loyalty, revenues, and customer bases.
Perhaps most interestingly, 7 in 10 survey respondents believe that technology will mostly replace human interaction with customers in the next decade.
About the Data: Avanade’s survey was conducted in October 2013 by Wakefield Research, an independent research firm. It surveyed 1,000 C-level executives, business unit leaders and IT decision makers, at top companies in the following countries: U.S., Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. The industries surveyed include: aerospace, defense, telecommunication, energy, healthcare, financial services, government, non- profit, media, entertainment, logistics and manufacturing.