How do I deliver a great business-to-business (B2B) customer experience (CX)?

This is a question we increasingly hear leaders from B2B organizations asking. And with good reason. By 2020, Accenture Interactive predicts digital CX will be the main differentiator for B2B companies.

Yet despite the sector’s growing focus on CX, a paradox has emerged. 86% of B2B CMOs reporting that the consider customer experiences to be very important, yet 57% of them reported only marginal CX performance.

CX in B2B is a different ball game than B2C. While the B2B sector can look to B2C for some CX inspiration (and evidence of the rewards), there are a number of differences that must be considered. After all, B2B organizations live and die by a few critical episodes – including an often complex buying process, client onboarding, and the adoption of new or additional products and services.

With engagement outside of these key moments limited to account management or customer success interactions, or potentially no real engagement at all, it’s essential B2B organizations are able to breakthrough in CX during the moments that matter. Encouragingly, we’re already seeing examples of B2B CX being put to work at Allianz and Fuji Xerox.

With B2B CX increasingly becoming a strategic priority, learn how to build a B2B CX program that delivers results by asking these 10 questions:

1. How will we measure success?

Set your B2B CX program business objectives, such as retention and customer growth, up-sell, total share of wallet, or cost to serve. Having an overarching business goal ensures you remain focused, and provides a framework whereby you can measure the success of your B2B CX program.

2. What customer outcomes are required?

Define what you need to do to your CX to ensure you meet these business goals. For example, it might involve lifting customer advocacy and customer satisfaction. Other B2B organizations might choose to focus on reducing effort or increasing speed of service. Knowing how the CX needs to change is essential to creating a successful B2B CX program.

3. Who are our customers?

There are multiple stakeholders involved in the B2B buying-cycle, from the budget holder to the end-user. The most successful B2B CX programs engage each group on their terms through tailored communications and support and proactively seeking feedback on whether the experience you are providing is a good one.

4. How do we deliver for customers?

It seems obvious, but understand the entire service you are delivering. Define your end-to-end experience or customer journey by breaking it down into discrete steps. This allows you to drive a holistic view of the entire experience, but to also identify owners in your business that are accountable for identifying strengths and weaknesses in your offering, and taking action accordingly.

5. What are our moments of CX truth?

Remember that not all moments are made equal. Having a holistic view is just the start – now comes focus. With just a handful of interactions to make an impact, you need to know the CX moments that matter. Integrating experience data – such as NPS, satisfaction and response times – with operational data – like renewal rates and account growth – allows you to identify the critical moments that not only matter to your customers but have a direct financial benefit.

6. Who will take action?

Be clear on which teams are responsible for different parts of the CX, and equip them with tools and resources to deliver against these. For example, front-line staff can troubleshoot issues and close the loop with customers, while finance and billing teams must make the payment process quick and easy.

7. How do we ensure action is taken?

One of the biggest and most common CX failures is not taking action on the feedback you’ve acquired. Make sure you don’t fall victim to this by having in place processes ensuring tasks and issues are rapidly assigned and resolved. This could include deploying a ticketing system, whereby issues are automatically assigned to a member of the team. Alternatively, platforms like Slack and Jira can improve communications between teams responsible for your digital assets or integration into your service management toolset will help scale actions. Driving customer feedback into your operational systems of choice is an effective way of strengthening your internal engagement.

8. What do we need for quality insights?

This point appears late in this list, but is a critical underpinning for much of what you will do. All good CX programs are grounded in objective and timely customer insights. For the best insights make sure you are asking your customers and prospects the right questions, and ensure you are seeking feedback from the right audience. A key factor in doing this successfully is to carefully consider how your surveys are designed, whether they are optimized for all devices, and that rules and guidelines are in place preventing you from sending too much correspondence.

9. Can we get real-time insights?

Speed of service is a standard hallmark of great CX. Ensure the program you choose for your B2B CX program offers real-time insights for users to take action on, allows users to self-build and distribute their own surveys, and that certain actions trigger automated responses.

10. How do we optimize our B2B CX program?

Operational data, such as sales or service interaction data, tells you how your program performed. Experience data, like NPS or text and voice sentiment, tells you why your program performed the way it did. Bringing experience and operational data together on a single system of action is an incredibly powerful tool for B2B CX leaders. It arms you with actionable insights you can use to optimize your B2B CX program for maximum impact.

Asking these questions at the outset of designing your B2B CX program sets you up for long-term success. Your program is not only grounded in strong guiding principles, it ensures you have access to the capabilities and insights you need to breakthrough.

For more advice on how to build your B2B CX program register for the webinar “How to breakthrough in B2B Customer Experience.”

eBook: Best Practices Guide for B2B Customer Experience Management

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