The One Customer Experience Factor B2B Buyers Want Most

September 26, 2017

by Carla Johnson

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

What bugs B2B buyers most? Feeling like they’re never heard. This goes beyond a vendor’s industry knowledge or even their lack of understanding of the company. You can do a crash course to learn those facts and figures.

In the second installment of Merkle’s 2017 B2B loyalty research, the company talked to 200 B2B buyers in North America and Europe. Merkle asked about their greatest challenges in searching for, identifying and considering which business products and services to buy.

The factor cited by more than twice as many respondents as the next-largest challenge? A vendor’s unwillingness to listen.

Two-thirds (65%) of people who responded said they struggle to deal with vendors and sales reps who care more about selling than listening to their needs as a buyer. Compare that number with how peeved they are with the same group not understanding the buyer’s needs (31%), their company (30%) or the industry (25%).

To give this number even more context, research that’s been done in past years found that a vendors’ lack of knowledge was the biggest sore spot. But we’re at the point now when customers have had enough. Enough brand-centered talk. Enough product and service pushing. And enough ignorance about what matters to customers. This is the case even though B2B buyers have complained for years that vendor content talks too much about the vendor and not enough about customer challenges.

The survey also points out that customers want help running their business. Both North American (59%) and European (57%) of people who responded say that dedicated support is the most important incentive for them once they’ve joined a B2B loyalty program. But vendors can only deliver relevant business support if they’re willing to listen first.

And retention is just as important as acquisition. Once companies build a relationship with a vendor, the thing that B2B buyers want more than anything is for that vendor to be reliable.

Download the full report to see the full picture of how B2B buyers really feel.

Photo credit: Gratisography

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About Carla Johnson


Carla Johnson is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author.

Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators and visionaries leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action. Her work with Fortune 500 brands has served as the foundation for many of her books.

In her latest project, Fast Forward Files, she contributes to a larger collection of thoughts by some of the world’s greatest minds -  Shazam co-founder Dhiraj Mukherjee, activist and entrepreneur Heather Mills and behavioral designer, technologist and mental-health champion Peter Trainor. Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking. 

Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.