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Buyerology Trend: Humanize the Buyer Experience

image from www.flickr.comThis is the final article looking at buyer trends that will influence marketing and sales in the near and foreseeable future. Let’s recap the significant buyer trends noted so far in this series:

This final article looks at how buyers desire above all else – a rewarding buyer experience and how businesses today and in the future will need to focus on enhancing as well as humanizing the buyer experience.  (Image “people not numbers” by Kenny Madden © All rights reserved)

Buyer Trend: Buyers desire rewarding human experiences

The concept of Experience in business has undergone a roller coaster ride during the past ten to fifteen years since it was first introduced.  Both the terms customer experience and buyer experience taking on different meanings in this time period.  For buyers in general, there has been a slow but progressing convergence of desiring B2C like experiences in B2B market worlds.  Without question, the rise of the Internet and Social Technologies has shaped and reshaped our concept of Experience in general.  I believe we are at a pivotal moment in business history with respect to buyer behavior and experience.

This pivotal moment is centered on the idea that buyers desire human experiences in the business world and see experience as a two-sided coin.  The two key principles of experience in the modern Social Age are:

  • Contextual: the overriding foundation of customer and buyer experience is engaging existing customers and prospective buyers in relevant contextual experiences – whether they are in social mediums, conversations, or interactions.
  • Learning: rising as an essential component of experience in business is the growing expectations on the part of buyers that undergoing an experience also mean they will learn from the experience.  Knowledge and practical intelligence will be gained by entering into the experience.

Buyers today are redefining the meaning of business experience.  Consequently, integrating their business experience into how buyers are reshaping their human experience in general as a result of the Social Age.  Buyers not only want to “feel good” about the business experiences they undergo, but now also have a higher expectations they will take away knowledge they did not have before.

The seven buyer trends in this article series point to what I call The Buyer Circle of Experience.  As they reshape their definition of what a business experience means and integrate it into their human experience, buyers are expanding their circle of experience in a business context.  The totality of their humanized buyer experience including what has been covered in this Buyerology Trend series:

  • To undergo rewarding and fulfilling experiences
  • To be understood qualitatively – in human terms and not data terms
  • To enable their quest to fulfill knowledge needed; not be seen as object for demand generation
  • To enhance collaborative experiences with expanding buyer networks
  • To be enabled to make informed decisions that align with organizational decision models versus generic buying process views
  • To grow their intelligence and in essence grow their knowledge and practical wisdom in their respective areas and beyond
  • To foster the ability to meet shared corporate values, in addition to needs, as part of the business experience

What Must CEO’s, CMO’s, and CSO’s Do?

A place for C-Suite leaders to start is to rethink their own concept of what experience – customer and buyer experience – means in today’s Social Age.  Guiding the organization to adopt a two dimensional view of experience – contextual and learning – as opposed to one dimensional views.  It will take hard work and deep customer and buyer understanding to turn B2B business engagement into humanized social experiences.  This becomes a new imperative for the C-Suite.  Undergoing think shift – viewing every interaction as one that must become an engaging and fulfilling experience and represent a learning experience for existing customers and prospective buyers.

The implications affect every area of businesses – talent, training, functions, technologies, operations, marketing, and sales.  It will test the resolve and capabilities of business leadership as we know it today.

The Future

In the future, buyer expectations for experiences that engage them contextually and provide learning opportunities will grow.  The open systems of new social technologies fueling the rise in humanizing the buyer experience.  Buyers will be looking to integrate their business experience into their personal human experience.

As the millennial grows into leadership, we will see metamorphoses take place around the concept of business, organization, leadership, and shared values.  This will drastically affect our notions of what is thought of as a business experience.  We may very well begin to see a narrowing gap between the business experience and the human experience happen sooner than we think.

Key questions to ponder for the future are: What is your organization doing today to rethink experience and what it means?  How capable is your organization of providing both engaging as well as learning experiences?  How will your organization be impacted by this evolving trend?

 

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Buyer Perceived Value (BPV) Scorecard: Qualifying and Quantifying Value

ScorecardImage by J. McPherskesen via Flickr

As a follow-up to the article Influence of Buyer Perceived Value (BPV) on Buyer Behaviors and Decisions, offered is a perspective on how to implement a scorecard approach.  The Buyer Perceived Value (BPV) Scorecard combines both a qualitative as well as a quantitative approach to understanding the influence of buyer values.  An important disclaimer here is that there have been many scorecard approaches for measuring customer value over the past two decades.  My point is not to endorse any particular one but to endorse the notion that values are rapidly changing and that buyer perceived value is critical to understanding buyer behavior.  The understanding of buyer behavior is the central focal point of Buyerology© and understanding Buyer Perceived Value (BPV) is one key aspect.

Before jumping into a quantitative approach, it is important to emphasize the need for reaching an understanding of Buyer Perceived Value (BPV) qualitatively.  Perceived values are changing rapidly and will continue to do so as new buyer behaviors are formed – changes driven by the introduction of new technologies and business models.  Multiple and varietal forms of qualitative methods help to provide a unique articulation of value criteria that buyers may formalize or internalize for decisions.  Qualitative understanding is essential due to buyers, common to human behavior, having difficulty in offering a clean series of statements that accurately reflect their value sentiments.  Multiple qualitative methods assist in identifying un-articulated patterns of thinking and behaviors that can be translated into value attributes unique to your industry, markets, and organization.  Basing a scorecard approach on a generalized and presumed sense of buyer perceived value attributes mitigates the usefulness of a Buyer Perceived Value Scorecard severely for informing buyer strategies.   Now let’s take the academic speak out of the above and simply say that if you base the scorecard on what you think buyer’s value versus actually going out to talk to buyers and using qualitative methods to uncover values – it will be of no particular use.

As mentioned in the previous article on Buyer Perceived Value (BPV), value has been viewed conventionally around product and service.  The convergence of the Internet and the Social Age is resulting in new as well as evolving values that we may not fully understand at the moment.  Calling for qualitative means of discovering exactly what these values are and the meaning behind them.  This is the primary reason why I advocate strongly the need for qualitative research to understand Buyer Perceived Value (BPV) meaningfully.

Once value attributes have been identified, monitoring and using a scorecard approach can help to inform how an organization can improve as well as build new strategies to better align with buyers.  To make a scorecard purposeful for informing strategies, there are several key elements to incorporate:

Priority: Not all values are perceived equally.  Determining through qualitative means how much weight buyers place on certain value attributes is essential.

Ideal: After values are weighted, what do the values look like in a perfect world to buyers?  The goal becoming how to score a perfect 10 on all value attributes.

Perceived: Once value attributes have been identified and established, a combination of qualitative and survey methods can help in discovering how buyers perceive the organization abilities in measuring up to the ideal.

Differential: Using the scorecard approach can help in identifying the largest differentials between what buyers consider of high value and where the organization is falling short in the minds of buyers.

Below is a simplified version of such a scorecard:

Bpv scorecard

In the example below, you will see a red flag around implementation support suggesting improvement.  You will also note that 24 hour turnaround is prioritized highly and this can include the use of social networks.  The meaning behind each value attribute listed should be supported by qualitative interpretation.  For example, what exactly do buyers’ value in implementation support?  How much of a factor is social engagement behind 24 hour turnaround perception?

Bpv scorecard example

By combining the use of multiple qualitative research methods and quantitative analysis, an organization can begin to get a realistic handle on how well they measure up to the perceived values buyers base decision-making criteria’s on.  We are at a point in marketplace history where uncertainty reigns.  The importance of refreshing, qualitatively, the understanding of exactly what buyers perceive as values and how much weight is put on each is critical to being on the buyer’s radar of choice.  What we can count on is that new technologies, services, and business models will cause shifts in what buyer’s value.

How do you plan to stay informed of these shifts in buyer perceived values?

 

Creative Commons License
Buyer Perceived Value (BPV) Scorecard by Tony Zambito is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.goalcentric.com.

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Influence of Buyer Perceived Value (BPV) on Buyer Behavior and Decisions

value, not controlImage by Will Lion via Flickr

In my recent article, Buyerology: The New Science of Understanding Buyer Behavior, I introduced the concept of Buyerology and the need for a renewed focus on understanding buyer behavior in the Social Age.  A key component of understanding buyer behaviors and decisions is gaining a reality check on Buyer Perceived Values (BPV).  How well organizations; in relations to products, service, and brand; maps to Buyer Perceived Values will serve as the one of the primary influences that shapes buyer behaviors and purchase decisions.

Buyer behavior research, performed through qualitative means, can reveal many aspects of what comprises Buyer Perceived Values (BPV).  Buyer experience is now becoming one of the most important factors that contributes to and influences these values.  The convergence of the Internet and the Social Age, in fact, is introducing many new variables and factors that influence Buyer Perceived Values.  Some of the new variables include:

Buyer Experience: previous as well as in process buyer experience can have an enormous impact on how buyers perceive the value that organizations can bring to their challenges and environments.  This correlation is becoming stronger as more self-directed experiences by buyers evolve.

Engagement: I have written recently about social engagement as well as how buyers are internalizing their own Social Engagement Index.  Evidence is building that how involved and how engaged buyers are is shaping the buyer’s perceived value of making a decision to enter into a relationship as well as make a purchase decision.

Knowledge: shared knowledge related to informative problem solving can help influence positively buyer’s perceived values.  This is an area of improvement for the evolving areas of content strategy and content marketing.  Just as social media fatigue may be setting in, I am beginning to see signs of content fatigue also.  Content creation for the sake of content, especially with dramatic self-promoting marketing flair, is now getting filtered by buyers.  The old adage that too much of good thing can actually hurt you can be true in this case.

Network: a new evolving factor is the growing influence of social networks that extends well beyond peer influence.  A new dynamic that associates peer recommendations with something we can refer to as network buzz.  It is proving to be a tricky formula.  A formula that needs to be organic as opposed to imposed upon.

These are just four new and evolving, of sure to be more variables, that influence Buyer Perceived Values.  Dramatically calling for the need for further buyer behavior research that can help organizations today understand why and how buyers are making decisions today.  This does not minimize nor excludes other conventional type variables such as:

Brand: a strong brand is also a strong leverage point in influencing Buyer Perceived Values (BPV)

Loyalty: the cumulative value of previous buyer experiences and relationships can translate into strong customer loyalty

Quality: no amount of new efforts in social business and content marketing can make up for poor quality and service.  Another old adage applies here: make sure your house is in order before you move on.

Risks:  let’s face it – changing products or services in a B2B market can turn into an agonizing experience for buyers.  Buyers have to see the risks of changing mitigated in order to make a switch.  The degree of risks involved has a direct influence on Buyer Perceived Value.

Price: competitive pricing will always remain a significant variable in determining a Buyer’s Perceived Value.  The positive or negative impact of other variables can influence the tolerance level on pricing and how it directly influences a Buyer’s Perceived Value.

What we do know is that the above mentioned variables or factors, both new and conventional, translate into Buyer Perceived Values which directly affect the buyer’s behavior and decision-making.  How buyers experience these variables or factors throughout the buying process not only will shape their internalized Buyer Perceived Values but also determine how long they choose to stay in the buying process specifically with one organization versus another.

Understanding Buyer Perceived Values requires qualitative research means and constant monitoring as we now live in a hyper-connected and social world.  Not only will values shift over time, but we are bound to witness new factors or variables that evolve and further change the buyer landscape.

One place senior executives can start thinking about Buyer Perceived Value (BPV) in general is by asking: do I have any idea what our buyer’s perceived values are?

 

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