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This is what we need to offer customers

B2B suppliers usually believe that customers make decisions based on logic, aiming to get the best value, save money, and time. However, a study reported in the Harvard Business Review showed that B2B customers actually prefer interactions that meet their emotional needs, even if it means spending more time or money. This suggests that we can perform better by understanding customers’ psychological needs such as being in control, having good relationships, and feeling accomplished.

The results suggest that:

  • Customers prefer choice over problem-solving: 58% of respondents preferred the opportunity to make a selection, even if it came at the expense of extra time.
  • Customers prefer human connections over speed: if waiting for a human required twice the time (and in both options, participants were assured their problem would be solved), waiting twice as long was preferred by nearly three-quarters of participants.
  • Customers prefer growth over a quick fix: over 60% of customers preferred being taught how to solve a problem independently, rather than having it done for them.

Recommendations include:

  1. To fuel autonomy, don’t fix — collaborate: even when we have an effective solution in mind, we should provide clients with options to remind them that they’re in control.
  2. To fuel relatedness, connect intelligently: we should focus on ways of making clients better at their job, to help develop an authentic relationship. Empathise sparingly: customers far prefer a service provider who responds knowledgeably over one who “feels their pain.”
  3. To fuel mastery, grow clients’ skills: younger B2B customers especially value developing their roles, so we should look to share insights.