Customer Journey Mapping - what's the difference between B2B and B2C?

Mapping a B2C Customer Journey and a B2B Client Journey. What’s the Difference?

Alex Allwood ALEX ALLWOOD, Customer Experience, Customer Journey Mapping, CX Mangement, journey mapping, MAPPING

Journey Mapping Q&A with Alex Allwood

In talking with CX folk from around the world; on Clubhouse, in webinars, online seminars and conferences, I’m asked all sorts of CX questions that I thought might be of interest to Quickbite readers.

This question comes from Jennifer Fitch, VoC Analyst for Paychex in the US. I met Jennifer virtually a couple of weeks ago at the Linetropy book club.

Jennifer asked, “What’s the difference between mapping a B2C customer journey and a B2B client journey?”

Customer journey mapping is the process of listening to understand the customer’s perspective, synthesising this data to understand its meaning, visualising what customers are thinking, feeling and doing, and using storytelling to communicate your customers’ experiences.

3 Similarities between B2C and B2B Customer Journey Maps

  1. Both B2C and B2B journey maps require a customer segment

It sounds obvious, but you can’t have a customer journey map without a customer! One of the initial decisions a CX leader will need to make is, who are we mapping for and what journeys to map? Remembering that different customer segments; both B2C and B2B have different needs, goals and expectations; and mapping a journey that represents all customers leads to poor CX insights.

  1. Both B2C and B2B journey maps should include in-depth customer listening

Too many customer journeys are mapped from the organisation’s point of view, from the inside-out, rather than from the customer’s perspective; this is called assumptive mapping. Deep customer understanding requires talking with and listening to customers to understand their journey; specifically their thoughts, feelings and experiences, from their viewpoint.

  1. Both B2C and B2B journey maps need to include customer interaction timing

Critical in CX management is understanding customer expectations regarding access to information, time taken to serve, wait times, speed of delivery etc. Whether your business is B2C or B2B, capturing and documenting customer interaction timing helps decode how long it takes customers to move between the different customer journey touchpoints, steps and stages.

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3 Differences between B2C and B2B Customer Journey Maps

  1. B2B service providers have two distinct customers

Many B2B organisations have two customers, the purchaser and the customer who uses the products and services and this is multiplied over many product and service offerings. This leads to protracted debates around the decision-making table on which client groups to map for and what journeys to map? In my CX consulting with clients, I start with a customer segment analysis to identify their high-value clients, this approach presents the best opportunity for CX ROI and provides the evidence for decision-making.

  1. There’s a difference in how B2C and B2B customers express emotion

Customer emotion is shown using an emotion graph on a journey map. The graph visualises customer sentiment, i.e. how customers feel at each step in their journey. Noticeable is the difference between how B2C and B2B customers express emotion. In my experience in the field, B2B clients are more conservative with their language in describing how they feel about their experiences.

  1. B2B Relationships tend to be formalised

Over the past decade, B2B organisations have invested in formalising their relationships using customer relationship management tools that bring together many data points to deliver a single view of their clients. In mapping customer journeys, this data set is augmented with qualitative data and synthesised to understand their client journeys and how client experiences are impacting retention, cross-selling and growth.

Why Customer Journey Maps Are a Powerful Framework:

  1. Making complex customer experiences simple to understand and simple to communicate to the wider organisation.
  2. A visual representation of the end-to-end customer experience using both functional and emotive language.
  3. Demonstrating the roles that each functional group or business unit plays in delivering the customer experience.
  4. Identifying the root causes of CX problems and showing how the experience and the delivery are interrelated from touchpoint to touchpoint.
  5. Simplifying CX prioritisation with the aim of improving value for both the business and the customer.

For my next Q&A article I’ll be discussing a topic proposed by Bill Sakos, Head of CX for Freddie Mac, for his Podcast, ‘Be Customer Led’, “Understanding customer journeys, journey visualization and orchestration and the latest buzzwords to do with customer journey mapping.”