Monica Kumar is the senior vice president of marketing and cloud go-to-market at Nutanix.
We often hear about business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) … but what about B2H (business to human)?
Companies spend a lot of money trying to market to and stay better engaged with customers, but what they’re often missing is how customers feel when they interact with a product or service. Feeling is a fundamental element that impacts whether we like or dislike, trust or distrust, and buy or don’t buy. Companies tend to market to a generic person — not an actual human who thinks, feels and interacts with the world.
B2H is a form of marketing that targets the human behind the screen and focuses on what each individual needs rather than marketing just to a specific consumer or business. It’s about being focused on the person rather than the pocketbook and building long-lasting relationships.
People have written about the B2H theme for a while, but I believe it’s even more critical given the post-pandemic landscape we operate in today. Here’s what marketers should be considering when it comes to B2H.
Walk A Mile In Their Shoes
The first step toward driving B2H marketing and getting to the root of what consumers actually want is uncovering their pain points. Marketers should understand consumers’ purpose, needs and wants and start by taking a step back to focus on the emotional aspect of marketing. It’s not just about “here’s how great my product is” — it’s also about asking “how does this product help the person using the technology?”
To better uncover pain points, ask each customer questions to find out what makes them excited, what they struggle with, what their goals are and what the potential or existing benefits of your product could be for them. You can do this through surveys, focus groups or user group engagements or by connecting with the sales and support teams about their customer conversations.
You should also take the time to walk in the customer’s shoes to sympathize and empathize with their unique situations. Put yourself in their story to understand their emotions and the environmental factors that cause them to think, feel and eventually decide what they decide. Your solution or how you formulate your messaging should seek to uplift the spirits of the recipient.
When you talk to any customer, start with empathy and show them you authentically care about making their lives easier. It helps to paint a picture with specifics. For example, what if you said to a customer: “We understand your workday is only a certain number of hours, and many of those are spent updating the systems — what if you could do that in five minutes? What would you do with that extra time?” That simple acknowledgment of the busyness of their day through a lens that resonates can build a strong bond and the trust that customers need to make a sound purchase decision.
When I think about examples of authentic customer engagement, my trips to Starbucks come to mind. Knowing your name or drawing a smiley face on your cup might seem like small gestures, but they go a long way. I think Starbucks became so successful because the organization prides itself on warm, welcoming interactions with customers and hiring baristas who are friendly and focused on the customer experience. It establishes a comfortable environment and relationship, and that approach builds ongoing trust and loyalty for me. Importantly, they also don’t stay stagnant — as this article shares, drive-thru and mobile ordering remain popular with the company’s customers, so it’s “leveraging all channels” to serve changing customer needs.
The best brands go one step beyond a “good” experience and focus on what they can do to make it a superb, memorable one that withstands a shifting digital/in-store environment and invites people to come back time and time again.
Recognize The Impact Of B2H On Employee And Customer Satisfaction
Prioritize building a marketing team that puts B2H first to enhance customer relationships and create a stronger, united internal team that does better work together. While many people typically think of Gen Z and millennials as the generations that care most about purpose at work, I believe the desire for purpose-driven work has been present for all generations all along. For some, it just became diluted by the onset of technology-driven work that can mask human interactions. It’s important to stay “human” at work and explore how B2H relationships can be the basis for a purposeful work environment.
Putting human customer relationships first can create a more purpose-filled work environment instead of a transactional one that focuses just on numbers. A team that really cares about connecting with others and building deep, strong relationships is a team that will probably find more satisfaction in the day-to-day management of a customer relationship.
Importantly, focusing on delivering a better customer experience and putting customers first is good business and can help engender trust. Customers typically buy from companies they trust. Many companies use a net promoter score (NPS) to measure customer satisfaction, and businesses that achieve an NPS of 90 or above over time are generally the ones that demonstrate that customers are always the top priority.
B2H has been in the spotlight recently because Covid-19 caused every brand to rethink its digital experience. All of the new collaboration tools that came out during the pandemic show that relationship-building is emerging as a critically important pillar of productive and satisfying work in a digital-first world. Leaders who focus on B2H can ultimately build strong relationships both with internal teams and external customers, partners and other stakeholders.
Technology is, after all, a means to an end: a means to make human lives better.