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B2B brands need different strategies for CX success

  • Posted on May 16, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 2 minutes
B2B CX tips

According to an Accenture study of 1350 executives, only 20 percent of B2B companies excel at customer experience (CX) to achieve strong financial results. The other 80 percent are somewhere in the laggard and striver categories. Why is CX in B2B so hard? Some B2C CX practitioners may disagree that B2B is harder and more complex than B2C environments so let’s examine a few dimensions of a B2B environment and the implications of your CX strategy for success.

  • More channels and interactions many B2C companies deliver their customer experience in controlled channels like digital shopping, or an in-store experience. A great deal of the customer touch is through marketing campaigns or point of sale technology. B2B on the other hand often includes interactions across many parts of the organization including the typical digital channels, but considers proposal development iterations, contract negotiations, project set up and delivery, and ongoing account development as well. All these processes involve different parts of the enterprise making the management of CX difficult.
  • Account vs. consumer the notion of an account in a B2C world usually means a single person. Although, this is concept is slowly changing with offerings like Amazon Prime Household. In the B2B world, the notion of account means multiple stakeholders, team interactions, and decision hierarchies to consider. In fact, here at Avanade, CX stands for “client experience,” not “customer experience.”

Strategy 1 – Create an internally-engaged measurement process
In the B2C environment, its easy and acceptable to hire third parties to survey clients. It’s also fairly easy to trigger surveys at key transaction points like taking a flight, completing a purchase, or completing a call to customer service. Transactional sentiment data is useful in improving specific touch points. In B2B, long-term relationships matter and having some knowledge of the account’s history can set important context for capturing feedback properly. Using third parties to do this work is not as effective as they will never know your accounts like our own business people. Clients respond very positively when they see employees from your company expend the effort to gather feedback on the relationship. The feedback also becomes more believable internally when your own organization is doing the work.

Strategy 2 – Activate cross-functional ownership and accountability
One challenge in B2B is that often there is no single owner for CX. The complexity of the interactions across multiple parts of the organization means many groups own part of the CX journey. It’s important to organize and activate these functional leaders as part of your CX change program. Ideally, build an accountability structure where client feedback and actions are visible and owned by a steering group that feels accountable for assuring your company’s vision of CX is being realized.

Strategy 3 – Determine moments that matter early on
Not all touch points count the same in the customer’s mind. Do the work to dig in and map the client journey for your various personas. Work with your customers to determine which moments really count more. Those are the ones you need to get right in your CX improvement plan.

Driving a CX program of change is a long-term journey. If you are a B2B CX practitioner, these strategies can help you get the right foundations in place for long-term success.

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