With COVID-19 making it even more difficult to give customers personalized service, live chat on a B2B ecommerce site can go a long way to better engage them, Jason Lichon of BlueBolt writes.

60% of B2B leaders say that the top way they want to learn about a fellow B2B company is through their website.

Jason Lichon

Once overlooked in B2B digital strategies, optimized customer experiences are a must-have for companies looking to convert and engage with customers in today’s world. Especially with current COVID-19 restrictions on meeting in person, it’s even more important for B2B organizations to examine how they interact and engage with customers. Innovation in this time of crisis and beyond will enable you to provide more meaningful and personalized touchpoints in the buyer’s journey and help your business grow.

But don’t just take my word for it.

60% of B2B leaders say that the top way they want to learn about a fellow B2B company is through their website.

In their recent B2B Digital Experience Report,” Episerver gathered insights from 600 global B2B decision makers about digital experience tactics and technology. They inquired about everything from budgets, to Amazon, to AI, artificial intelligence. The most encompassing takeaway from the report is that in order to win in today’s digital economy, B2B businesses must focus on the customer by understanding who they are and what they need, and then provide the appropriate, personalized solutions to address those needs.

Though it may seem obvious, the customer journey can be complex, especially for B2B organizations. There are many moving parts to consider, and while making decisions can seem overwhelming, the biggest opportunity for businesses is to invest in products and services that better serve the customer throughout the buying lifecycle and beyond. It’s not a one-size-fits-all type of process and, instead, should involve looking at problems from many different angles and finding the right solutions that truly deliver better customer experiences.

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According to the report, the majority of B2B organizations (54%) define their customer relationships as strained, developing or non-existent. Clearly, there’s a huge opportunity to improve in this area. B2B organizations should specifically look to connect with their customers where and when it makes most sense. One simple and effective solution is live chat.

Live chat leads to personalized digital experiences

Data from the report shows that 60% of B2B leaders say that the top way they want to learn about a fellow B2B company is through their website. 37% of these same leaders also say live chat is the website feature/functionality they are most likely to adapt in the next 12 months. Combine these two points, and you’ve got an interesting opportunity. If the majority of people prefer accessing information about a company through that company’s website, and that website has a live-chat solution implemented, then live chat can be a viable tool to engage with website visitors and improve customer experiences.

B2B interactions often deal with quite a lot of complexity—customer-specific pricing, tight delivery schedules, endless numbers of SKUs—and organizations need to be prepared to provide immediate and personal attention when their customers need it. Live chat is a powerful and convenient tool when it comes to assisting customers in real time.

Knowing that they are talking to a real person, not a bot, gives customers the confidence that their issues are being handled quickly and efficiently. Live chat also enables your reps to reach customers in unique and engaging ways, including video and file sharing—something that obviously cannot be supported through a typical phone call, email, or form submission.

Beyond the front-end, user-specific advantages, live chat is also an effective tool in gathering and recording data that can be used to improve customer experience across the whole of your organization, not just digitally. Finally, live chat can be personalized so that returning customers are addressed individually and previous interactions are recorded; after all, if the customer has interacted with you before, wouldn’t it make sense that you know who they are the next time you speak with them? This not only will save time but will make your customers feel valued.

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The big picture of personalization

It’s more common now than in years past that most B2B companies have gone through at least some type of digital transformation. According to Episerver’s report, most leaders say they have a digital foundation to work with, but many are looking for more to get the job done. This points to the need for organizations to take a holistic approach to enhancing customer experiences.

Of course, perfecting the digital experience is an ever-evolving process that encompasses more than just keeping up with competitors or the expectations of your customers; it’s about truly understanding your customers and using that data to deliver more personalized experiences to achieve digital success. One way to achieve this on the most basic of levels is through live chat, which, when used correctly, can help support and manage better customer relationships, increase revenue, and improve customer loyalty.

Live chat, combined with other customer experience tools, is the foundation from which organizations can ensure they are gathering the right data and providing the right solutions so customers remain central to the business.

Jason Lichon is president and a founding partner of BlueBolt, a digital agency that provides B2C and B2B clients with creative design, enterprise search, content management, and ecommerce implementations. Prior to BlueBolt, Jason worked for Fry Interactive, a pioneer in ecommerce consulting and technology. Based in Chicago, Jason holds a degree from the University of Michigan and enjoys working on his salsa dancing skills when not behind his desk.

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