We've seen how retailers and business-to-consumer (B2C) enterprises have been focusing on customer experience of late, and deriving rewards from such efforts. What about the business-to-business (B2B) market, however? A new report from Temkin Group suggests customer experience is a big part of B2B as well.
The Temkin Group report points out that 57 percent of B2B firms have a three-year goal in common: to be the industry leader in customer experience for that particular industry. The execution is proving somewhat lacking; just 12 percent have reached the two highest levels—out of a possible six—of customer experience provision. Temkin Group vice president Aimee Lucas points out four key points separating the best from the least.
Companies wanting a great customer experience should focus on putting forth clear and purposeful leadership, with the company's values clearly articulated. Also, a focus on the brand's overall value to customers should be included, along with measures designed to get the employees as invested in the company's goals as the company itself, otherwise known as employee engagement. Finally, a clear connection to the customer must be established and maintained, with customer feedback fueling every decision a company makes.
These four principles are starting to emerge in the B2B market, though in some unexpected ways. Johnson Controls, for example, is using customer experience in its sales and account management systems, bringing out the “Top 2 Top” program to capture feedback from senior executives working with accounts to use in further development. NetApp uses what's called a “customer journey map” to make it clear which teams should be working on which accounts, and keep the process transparent enough for anyone to follow. Some are using customer experience focus in customer support, others in issues with partners, and others still in product management to make sure the product delivers what the business customers need most.
A focus on customer experience has already delivered great benefit for those firms that put it to work with customers. Yet it's easy to note that the customer experience for a B2B firm may be different from that of a B2C firm. That's true in some ways, but even these are more related to operations than the concept itself. Both B2B and B2C firms can benefit from providing those things the customer needs; making it easy to make contact with the seller if something goes wrong, keeping the customer's feedback in mind with new product developments, and some other general matters work well no matter what the target market looks like.
Businesses do well in focusing on the customer experience, no matter if that customer is some person down the street or an entire corporation. Both appreciate being valued by the company selling, and both are more likely to make purchases from a place that values that business.
Edited by Kyle Piscioniere