Yes, without a doubt! That question should never cross your lips! A customer experience management (CEM) strategy for B2B will be different from that for B2C, but it is, nonetheless, equally, if not more, important.
The focus shifts in B2B customer experience to the relationship between the account manager and the customer. "People buy from people" becomes the mantra here. (That can be good and bad.) That means that your account managers must be armed with all the right tools, data, and insights in order to deliver an experience that will ensure that he meets his business goals, which typically include: satisfaction, retention, acquisition, expansion, and referrals.
But the business overall has some motivators or goals, as well. And for a little more detail on that, I want to share some of the findings of ClearAction's 4th Annual Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Best Practices Study - 2013. In the study, customers were asked about the top three goals motivating B2B CEM, and the following were cited most often (in rank order by frequency of top mentions):
- increase customer loyalty (i.e., share of budget)
- increase retention (i.e., reduce churn/defections)
- stronger competitive differentiation
- increased revenue, increased profit
- acquiring more profitable customers
- increased market share
- improved industry leadership position
- $200M revenue increase in the last year as a result of taking action on customer feedback.
- 35% growth rate over the past year due to Client Success layers with Sales.
- 25% increase in NPS in the last year due to comment analysis and closed-loop activities.
- 10% increase in project profit due to service excellence over the last year.
- 20% increase in customer engagement over the last 3 years due to CEM technologies.
- 5% increase in share of budget among buying customer base in the last year as a result of better account management.
- Service recovery on low NPS saved a $500K account.
- Lack of executive sponsorship
- Limited bandwidth of managers
- Budget restrictions
- Lack of CEM strategy
- Difficulty correlating CEM to business results
- Lack of cross-organization cooperation
Respondents were also asked about the importance of VOC relative to a few other items, and here are the findings. Looks like we have a lot of management personnel out there who think they know better than their customers, since 44% agree/totally agree that VOC is less important than management instincts.
I don't know about you, but that chart doesn't make me feel all warm and fuzzy.
At the beginning of the post, I mentioned that account managers are important to the B2B experience and relationship. In order for them to deliver a great experience, though, they must be equipped with the right tools to do so. When asked to rate how well respondents' companies conduct activities to center employees on customers, the results looked like this (listed by percent of respondents who indicated world-class or well-established):
- Present customer feedback to all employees and execs (43%)
- Expect action on survey results by owners of customer experience key drivers (40%)
- Use customer metrics in performance reviews (36%)
- Reward customer experience improvement by teams (27%)
- Onboard all employees regarding customer experience programs (18%)
- Align incentive pay to customer experience metrics (18%)
The report is filled with a lot more findings and recommendations on how you can improve your B2B customer experience. Take a look - and feel free to share your own thoughts below.
Note: Lynn Hunsaker, ClearAction founder, shared the report with me last month.
The customer experience is the next competitive battleground. -Jerry Gregoire, CIO, Dell