The B2B Experience Gap: what CSPs can learn from brilliant baristas

The B2B Experience Gap: what CSPs can learn from brilliant baristas
There’s a great deal that CSPs can learn from the humble barista when it comes to delivering a great customer experience. Ahead of our upcoming B2B Experience Gap webinar, Omnisperience analyst, Georgina Elrington, outlines what the B2B sector can take from the world of B2C, and the microbusiness opportunity.

Fred works at my local café, and it has to be said – he’s a real ray of sunshine in a manic day.

Not only is he skilled at producing an excellent coffee with a flourish of artistry, the “cream on the coffee”, so-to-speak, is that he remembers exactly how I like it without having to be told, there’s always a cheerful “hello”, he takes a genuine interest in his customers and there might even be a personalised note on the cup.

Brilliant baristas can be so charming that even if they get your order wrong, it’s likely that you’ll forgive them. CSPs could learn a lot from Fred when it comes to building and maintaining loyalty.
Why are we talking about this today?
According to TM Forum research, 75% of CSPs believe their future revenue growth will come from the B2B sector. As a result, CSPs have been busily rolling out exciting new B2B2X business models, exploring the potential of IIoT and drones, launching Connected Customer Assurance and Protection products and even creating new units to capture the emerging opportunity from SoHo or microbusinesses.

Meanwhile customer expectations have been soaring – and not just in the B2C sector. B2B buyers increasingly come with more consumer-oriented communication and transaction preferences. In fact, 74% of millennial B2B ecommerce buyers say they’ve already swapped vendors simply because the new company offered a more consumer-like experience.

The low net promoter scores (NPS) in the sector highlights a huge gap between what B2B CSPs are currently delivering and what their B2B customers expect. The January 2022 UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), for example, reports huge growth in the number of people prepared to pay more for better service – which has risen 8.1 percentage points since the beginning of the pandemic.

Note, however, that there’s only three CSPs in the top 50 customer experience providers. In the B2B market the gap between expectations and delivery is even wider, with 94% of ecommerce buyers saying they’ve encountered “significant” CX problems.

With today’s B2B buyers more willing than ever to switch providers if they don’t get what they want, the trillion-dollar question is: what can CSPs do to lock them in and encourage both loyalty and increased spend?

The answer isn’t rocket science. Today’s B2B buyers simply want the type of efficient digital service they’ve grown used to in their consumer lives, and there’s a win-win here for CSPs. Easier-to-understand relevant information speeds purchasing decisions; intuitive and efficient self-service encourages sales; and B2B personalisation boosts both experience and cross-sell opportunities.
What can B2B CX take from B2C methods?
The highly competitive B2C telecoms market has seen considerable effort put into creating coherent, personalised, and relevant experiences even though the average revenue per user (ARPU) is significantly lower than in the B2B market.

Applying some of these well-honed B2C methods and concepts, however, can pay dividends in the B2B market, provided CSPs remain aware of the differences between B2B buyers and how that affects the way they’re supported.
Closing the enterprise experience gap
At the enterprise level, CSPs need to remember that their enterprise accounts are managed by actual people and that these B2B buyers have increasingly similar expectations to B2C customers (a trend termed “consumerisation of IT”). They want an experience that feels more akin to how they transact on consumer platforms such as eBay or Amazon, or even the digital self-care and self-service provided by their CSP’s consumer division.

This doesn’t necessarily obsolete account managers, but moves them towards a more consultative, advisory role rather than expecting them to fill in sales and ordering process gaps that are better off automated. On the billing side, enterprise customers want business-relevant bills that are faster to process and help supporting new operating paradigms such as Work from Anywhere by more easily assigning and managing costs – Cerillion’s support for remote working models is a great example of this.
Meeting the needs of SMEs
Dealing with millions of small businesses didn’t appeal to many CSPs who preferred to partner with resellers. However, CSPs have changed their stance on this issue simply because they can’t afford to hand over so much margin to resellers and because they perceive this market to have huge growth potential. But this market needs a very different approach (and different package choices) to the more complex enterprise market. SMEs have fewer internal resources, so they typically want a solution that includes higher levels of support.

There’s a huge opportunity for CSPs to up their CX game in the SME market. Vodafone Business, for example, is already on the case. Last year it launched “business boosting packages” - bundles of tools to help SMEs create or improve their online presence, reach new customers and overcome impediments to growth.
Addressing the new Microbusiness opportunity
They may be small, but microbusinesses could offer the sweetest opportunities of all. These tiny 1-9 person businesses are the most similar to B2C in terms of expectations and the way they need to be supported. This is a particularly exciting area for CSPs currently, because of the explosive growth in the sector fuelled by people being laid off during the pandemic, looking for new income streams as costs soar, or participating in the Great Resignation. The ability to set up a microbusiness has also been boosted by the widespread availability of key enablers such as high-speed broadband, greater digital fluency, and a more mature e-commerce market. Most of these businesses are born digital and expect to be supported digitally.

Amongst others (see Supercharge your business with Volt and Vodafone aims for SoHo with business broadband package), BT launched a new business unit to address this market last year, saying that its research had identified 800,000 small firms (a 40% year-on-year increase) being set up in the UK in the previous year alone. Chris Sims, the MD of the new unit, commented: “Every big business starts small, and we want to help them thrive by delivering flawless connectivity, coverage and customer service - so that their broadband never lets them down... we’ll also be launching a suite of new services and apps to move the UK’s smallest firms into the digital fast lane.”
What a brilliant barista can teach us
Meeting B2B customer needs – and even going beyond that to deliver delightful experiences – is essential if CSPs are going to build a solid foundation for revenue growth in the B2B sector. Fred the barista teaches us the simple truths of customer experience, which is built on a passion for getting the details right. He offers a quality product, serves it efficiently, knows what his customers like, remembers their preferences, and is able to help them navigate a complex product while recommending things that enhance their experience.

His customers come back time and time again because they not only love what he does, but they love how he does it. To find out more about how you can engage your customers, close the great B2B experience gap, and build more business as a result, check out our upcoming webinar or register to receive a free copy of the accompanying eBook.