Sorry to break the news, but there is no silver bullet that will enable your B2B organisation to deliver a successful Customer Experience. You need a total B2B customer experience that addresses all aspects of the relationship both in terms of what you deliver to customers and how you deliver it.
In fact, for tangible, measurable benefits, you’ll have to create and deliver two customer experiences; one that caters to the needs and priorities of buyers and another one for users.
Customer success vs Customer support
Customer support steps in to resolve moments when the organisation’s customer experience fails to deliver.
Customer success’s role in an organisation is to proactively work with customers to understand their business goals and take responsibility for ensuring their organisation is continually delivering against the value propositions sold in by Sales & Marketing.
It’s challenging for marketing to do all this alone. They can lead it, but establishing a customer success process takes the whole organisation, not one department.
Putting the right people and processes in place
Have a clear & living Customer Experience Vision, shared with the entire company
Really understand who your customers are, their needs and their expectations
Create a single view of the customers by unifying data across your internal systems, customer activities and touchpoints
Articulate your CX strategies internally
Build a corporate culture that knows how to listen
Train and develop your team
Act upon regular employee feedback
Ensure that customers feel understood
Measure the ROI from delivering great customer experience
Integrating marketing and sales
Your customer’s needs don’t align with our marketing and sales funnels, so by isolating sales and marketing we miss opportunities to align around how customers buy. To engage the customer effectively and impactfully, integrate marketing and sales and deploy the right resources, at the right time and in the right way to help the customer buy.
7 simple ways to leverage customer success solutions
Ensure your content is focused on customer benefits not features.
Listen to your customers, especially the upset ones. Then resolve the cause, not just the symptom.
Track your communication at both customer and contact level.
Leverage SLA tracking so you’re always delivering on customer expectations.
Tailor self-service content for specific business needs of your customers and users.
Deploy a live chat system focused on administrative business interactions. This frees up team members to have valuable interactions with potential and existing customers.
Check in with your existing customers, ask them how you can improve and let them know the actions from their feedback
What does great CX looks like?
You need to build a customer centric culture to deliver on your CX strategy, and it’s got to start at the top.
In B2B or B2C, when it comes to CX, every function, every employee, every representative on every channel and platform, has a role to play in delivering a good experience. Hence, the (slightly modified) saying - ‘It takes a whole village to deliver good CX’.
While one team can manage and report on your efforts, real delivery comes from every moving part in the organisation working together to create and deliver great CX.
Plan each stage of your customer’s journey. A customer journey map is critical.
Reduce the effort customers need to take to be successful
Remove friction from your sales cycle.
Recognise that customer experience initiatives don’t always have a one-to-one ROI. You need ROI from your CX, but it might not be clear cut.
Humanise the customer experience. Give your customer support and success managers a budget to make a customer’s day better. Or create an online community to multiply personal interactions among customers and staff.
Results require actions
As if navigating the minefield of B2B wasn’t challenging enough, the way many organisations approach CX accidentally undermines their own efforts. Once they have embarked on the journey to improve CX, they spend most of their time undertaking strategic exercises such as journey mapping and design thinking. These usually result in massive PowerPoint decks.
While these activities are vital, they won’t impact business performance by themselves. Driving improvements and producing results through B2B CX is difficult and takes hard work. It requires going beyond ‘blue sky’ strategic thinking, rolling up your sleeves and getting down in the weeds.
This is achieved by:
Prioritising and determining exactly what initiatives will be undertaken
Detailing action plans that specify by whom, how and when
Mobilising and managing the resources required
Turning research into a plan
To be truly customer centric means listening to your customers and incorporate their needs into your product and service offering. This means finding and tapping into rich sources of real-time intel that goes way beyond predictive insights or NPS surveys.
There is a very real strategic value in utilising customer insights, tracking satisfaction and eliminating friction from your CX.
Practical steps to take:
Develop personas: Using behavioural data to include challenges, goals, motivations and point of view statements
Conduct Job to be done interviews to understand your customer needs
Co-create customer journeys. Work with your customers to map complex B2B journeys.
Review customer feedback. Look for the hesitations, the negatives, the disappointments. Deep dive the issue to reveal and rectify the root causes.
Talk with your customer. Pick up the phone and ask what things you should enhance to increase loyalty and drive revenue.
Common mistakes to avoid:
Treating CX as a marketing tactic. Successful CX is a business strategy in all departments.
Attempting to deliver CX without a vision
Ignoring the role of Employee Experience in the process
Improving analytics not treated as a top priority
Focusing on too many things at once
Mistaking process automation as CX
Taking the human out of the equation
Being reactive about churn
Who is getting CX right right now?
There is some great work happening in the Pharma/Healthcare industry on CX and PX (Patient Experience). They know the journey is long and hard, but they are being pragmatic and making small changes rather tackling everything at once.
The leaders in this sector are focused on 3–5-year transformation programmes that combine CX & EX led by global and regional visions. They are revolutionising the way they go to market and genuinely putting the customers at the heart of their organisations.
Sure, there are big challenges - from compliance to extremely complex ecosystems and go to market models, to out-dated legacy infrastructure. Yet they are willing to make mistakes, trial new approaches and taking on the challenge.
Finally, a few words about Account Based Marketing
Sitting within CX, ABM pivots away from managing individual leads to looking at accounts holistically, understanding their needs and is motivated by building relationships and partnerships.
Traditional marketing demand generation tactics involve casting a wide net in the hope of catching the right fish. It’s about identifying target companies, attracting them to your site, getting them to fill out forms, then nurturing them with automated emails.
To reduce time, resources, and cost of lead-to-deal conversions, marketers need a better way to deliver quality leads to sales. The solution is to flip the inbound marketing funnel on its head.
Account Based Marketing identifies target companies, engages them with personalised campaigns then builds lasting relationships that lead to new opportunities. The approach is based more on conversation, research, adaptability, and listening than any clever combination of programmatic software or artificial intelligence.
Being account-focussed helps you understand where to prioritise, which accounts to follow up based on satisfaction and revenue, as well as stakeholder management.
It’s better to outthink your competitors than outspend them. Start by asking “How does this create value for the customer?” Then focus on the humanising the process and reducing the effort they must take to be successful.