Senior level executives in B2B companies around the globe continually talk about how they are customer centric and committed to delivering a positive customer experience, writes Michael Haynes.
A global study conducted by US based consulting firm, Clear Action, found that 80% of B2B firms assigned customer experience to a senior level executive. However, only 20% use customer experience as an input or determinant for an organisation’s corporate strategy.
Senior management teams need to stop talking and take action. Delivering a positive customer experience for their business customers will create fully engaged customers: customers that will be loyal, spend more money with you and provide numerous recommendations and referrals. All of which are vital to having successful and profitable businesses.
Creating a positive B2B customer experience requires a strategic and structured approach that includes the following:
1. C-level buy in, commitment and true actioning
Senior executives must stop simply saying that they are customer centric. Instead they need to ensure that their company both develops and implements a customer experience strategy.
One of the reasons that many companies do not have a customer experience strategy is due to senior management not understanding the impact that customer experience initiatives will have not just on loyalty and customer satisfaction but also on revenues and profits.
Therefore to increase the likelihood of buy-in for your proposed customer experience strategies and initiatives, it is imperative that you always demonstrate how they will impact on those key financial metrics.
This will undoubtedly require more in-depth analysis. However it will mean a much greater likelihood for acceptance by the C-level executive team as well as your ability to obtain the resources you require to both develop and implement a customer experience strategy.
2. Strong understanding of your business customers
Implementing an effective B2B customer experience also requires that your company has a very strong understanding in terms of:
- the context in which your product or service is used,
- where and how business customers interact with your company (often referred to as the customer touchpoints), and
- what are their expectations in terms of how they interact with you.
Furthermore, as your business customers’ requirements and expectations are constantly changing, it is also important that you have processes and systems in place to regularly gather, analyse and use the feedback to modify their customer experience in accordance with these changing needs.
3. Develop a tailored B2B customer experience
All business customers are not equal. B2B customers will differ in terms of:
- the value of sales and profits they provide, and
- their behaviours, requirements and expectations.
For instance, small business customers are often similar to consumers whereby the buyer and user are often one entity. Enterprise customers, on the other hand are large organisations with multiple decision makers and users. Therefore it is important that you segment your customers, understand their dynamics and provide the right kind of customer experience for your most valued/profitable customers.
Therefore, just as in the B2C world, it is important to deliver a positive customer experience to business customers. Doing so creates loyal customers who spend more with you and also tell others to do so resulting in greater sales and profits for your organisation. While your competitors may have the same product and service offerings, the one thing they may not be able to easily replicate is the great customer experience that you deliver.
So stop talking about how customer centric you are and actually do something about it!
Take a step back, critically look at your company and ask yourself:
- do we have a customer engagement strategy? Are we really implementing it?
- do we deliver a tailored customer experience or is it ‘one size fits all’?
- are we really keeping on the pulse as to our customers’ requirements?
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