Customer-facing business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) companies have a lot on their minds today, but one of the most critical goals is improvement of the customer experience. A recent survey by the Temkin Group found that while only four percent of these organizations see themselves as industry customer experience (CX) leaders today, 57 percent of them want to deliver the best customer experience in their industry over the next three years. While the goals are very ambitious, the stakes are high: customer expectations and options are ever on the rise, and a strong push in both technology and customer support labor are necessary to succeed in the modern marketplace.
Many companies with these goals are achieving them by first establishing customer experience task forces to address the issue. The same Temkin Group survey found that a strong majority (nearly 60 percent) of large B2B and B2B2C organizations have significant, coordinated customer experience efforts underway across their companies, with one-third of all B2B firms having more than 10 full-time employees on their centralized customer experience teams. A central job of these task forces is to establish “voice of the customer,” or VOC, strategies, according to a recent article by Aimee Lucas, Customer Experience Transformist and Vice President at Temkin Group writing for 1to1 Media. Lucas notes that it’s particularly critical in business-to-business organizations where customer value is very high.
“Retaining each relationship can be essential for B2Bs; hence why they frequently use retention is a critical success metric,” she wrote. “At the same time, clients and prospects are comparing their business interactions with B2B companies to their interactions with personal consumer companies, and these comparisons result in higher expectations for their B2B relationships when it comes to experience elements such as ease of doing business, gaining extra value, etc.”
While nearly all business-to-business companies recognize the importance of the customer experience and are trying to do something about it, most are still in the early stages of their programs. Temkin research found that fewer than one in eight firms have reached the two highest stages of maturity when it comes to customer experience strategies. Lucas recommends that organizations master Temkin Group's four customer experience core competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness. In many cases, this involves closer collaboration between customer-facing departments such a sales, marketing, field service, the contact center, IT and back-office functions. It’s also critical to collaborate with partners, particularly for business-to-business companies that don’t deal directly with their own end customers.
“The B2Bs that don't sell directly to their end customers still strive to build loyalty through excellent customer experiences,” wrote Lucas. “However, because these companies do not control all of the customer interactions, they must work with and through channel partners. One way to do this is to bring partners in to give feedback directly to company employees, who can then integrate their insights into CX design efforts.”
This means putting collaborative solutions in place that can reach into – and scale properly – all individuals, departments and partner companies that interface with customers. Only a single strategy will work for success with the customer experience: if your plan is a collection of different strategies administered by a variety of different departments and individuals, it won’t offer customers the experience they need and expect.
Edited by Maurice Nagle