B2B companies often struggle to deliver outstanding customer experience (CX). In a B2B environment, customer interactions are typically complex: fragmented across participants with dispersed decision-making and no unified visibility of the customer’s needs. Fostering intimacy and driving customer satisfaction requires companies to focus on the customer’s end-to-end journey. Elevating the CX can be challenging, having the right level of transparency at the right intersections with your customers will mold their perception of you and produce greater business opportunity.
B2B Customer Experience Challenges
The competitive, complicated nature of the B2B environment and the amalgamation of stakeholders on both sides of the relationship often results in a disconnected CX. Many executives relate their experiences in a B2C environment with their B2B decisions. B2B CX, however, can be harder to achieve because of the structure of the relationship and the nature of the interactions. When service falls below customer expectations, the following issues can arise:
- You will test the tolerance of your customers, making it easier for competitors to establish a foothold with them
- Your customers will not receive the full benefit of your solutions or products. This results in customer dissatisfaction, and ultimately, the loss of your client and the revenue stream.
The Route to World Class Customer Experience
To avoid these challenges, companies must establish a symbiotic partnership by solving current problems, sustaining continuous improvement, and generating meaningful impact for the buyer. We introduce a roadmap that defines six sequential phases that enable an organization to reach and maintain World Class Customer Experience.
Step 1: Mapping the CX Journey: The customer journey provides a longitudinal view that allows you to understand the integrated touchpoints from the customer’s perspective. In this phase, you will identify all touchpoints, determine “pain points,” recognize process chokepoints, identify responsibilities and owners of touchpoints, distinguish the linkages that occur between touchpoints, and establish a touchpoint importance rating system.
Step 2: Evaluating Transparency & Pain Points: Transparency can be defined by answering: How much insight does a customer have into a particular process, and how much should they have? Pain point identification entails looking at customer outcomes, processes, products, or communication misses and understands the touchpoints that can address these issues? You can gather this information by conducting online research, customer and employee interviews and surveys, and making secret shopper calls and queries.
Step 3: Calibrating Future Transparency: Establishing the optimal level of transparency for each interaction point helps guide and prioritize improvement efforts.
Step 4: Prioritizing Pain Points: Pain points can be mapped by the current level of pain and transparency to help organizations prioritize.
Step 5: Building Transparency: Look at root causes for your process and determine actionable steps to improve the customer’s perception. You can achieve this by leveraging different tools and techniques such as Six Sigma, Lean, 5S, Cause and Effect Diagrams, and Change Acceleration.
Step 6: Executing Continuous Improvement: Finally, you want to reinforce the framework by improving processes and interactions to ensure your persistently bettering the customer journey.
Benefits of Outstanding Customer Experience
CX can be the lynchpin to your success. Achieving world-class B2B customer experience creates a competitive advantage that leads to:
- Increased stickiness,
- Unpaid advocacy,
- Greater pull-through of new products and services,
- Larger deals,
- More revenue opportunities,
- Reduced sales costs,
- Trusted advisor status,
- and increased margins/pricing.
To access a full discussion of the components and benefits of world-class customer experience, click here.
Written by: Marc Cottle
About the Author: Marc Cottle is an experienced sales leader with 15 years of experience; he is a Principal with McMann & Ransford and leads the Commercial Practice at the company.