Strategies to Improve B2B Customer Relationships Through Digitally Enabled Experiences

Strategies to Improve B2B Customer Relationships Through Digitally Enabled Experiences

Laura Ingrid Maria Colm (SDA Bocconi School of Management, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-6762-6.ch002
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Offering experiences—memorable exchanges and interactions with a brand—has become a top priority for companies of any sector and dimension over the last decades, especially in the light of the advent of digital technologies. However, to date both academic and practitioner attention is mostly limited to B2C contexts, thus calling for a deeper investigation of the opportunities that experiences offer also to B2B firms. After a brief review of the literature on customer experience and the role of digitalization—especially after COVID-19—this chapter focuses on digitally enabled experiences to improve B2B customer relationships. The chapter is based on a three case vignettes analysis that emphasizes how B2B firms can make use of digital tools to craft more effective and impactful customer experiences. Three digitally enabled B2B experiential strategies are identified—downstream empowerment, farsighted customization, and relational flexibility—that ultimately support B2B companies in improving their customer relationships in the long run.
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Customer Experience: A Concept Born In B2c Contexts

Customer experience is defined as a journey consisting of multiple interactions between a company and its customers across a series of touchpoints over time (Lemon & Verhoef, 2016). These touchpoints include all the moments and instances of customer-firm contact along the customer journey. They can elicit multidimensional responses – cognitive, emotional, behavioral, social, and sensorial ones – and can have a social, physical, or digital format, or a combination thereof (De Keyser et al., 2020).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Environment: A setting or place produced through computer technology – including websites, mobile applications, social media, audio and video content, and other web-based resources.

B2B Relationship: The relationship between a firm and its industrial customers.

Case Vignette: Short, written summary of a case study.

Relational Continuity: A specific form of business continuity that refers to a company’s capability and effort of maintaining regular contact and interactions with customers in all conditions, also when an exogenous shock (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) occurs.

Relational Marketing: Marketing efforts dedicated to maintaining, sustaining, and improving over time the relationships between a firm and its customers.

Digitally Enabled Experience: A customer experience made possible, improved, and/or augmented thanks to the aid of digital technologies.

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