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The Importance of Customer Experience

18 Nov, 2016


When marketing products or services to B2B customers, most marketing departments focus on the promotion of their offerings to market. Which seems quite reasonable – after all, isn’t that what they’re there for?

But the fact is it’s simply not enough when you realise that a staggering 80% of B2B customers base their purchases on Customer Experience (CX) when asked if price or CX carries more weight in their decision to buy, you soon realise.

Recent UK research revealed that only 16% of businesses assessed say they provide a customer experience anywhere near that of B2C companies, just 12% rated themselves as effective in delivering a great customer experience and only 29% acted on customer feedback.

In fact, only 23% of B2B companies see a significant return from their CX investment. So the question is, what can you do to become one of these high achievers?

Here are several simple steps that can deliver exceptional results.

Use feedback to feed positive relationships

Finding out what your customers need and want is CX Management 101, but to take it to the next level and achieve CX success you need to report back to your customers on any issues they have – which can be as simple as sending them an email explaining the actions your company will take to improve their experience.

The fact that you’ve listened, created a plan and shared it with them will make them feel valued - and even indebted enough to reward you with their ongoing custom.

Improve the post-sales experience

45% of B2B customers say they don’t get the value they’re promised after a sale - this is of utmost importance to them and where the high-achieving 23% excel.

Successful B2B CX leaders cite after-sales support and service as the most important point in the customer journey, prioritising it 2-3 times more than their peers because they know that the most loyal customers are made after the sale.

The key is, don’t just focus on current demand – focus on supporting customers after they buy and you’ll create desire for your products and services well into the future.

Take the initiative to take the lead

B2B CX leaders actively defend their business from competitors - and they don’t do it by playing catch-up. They find out what their customers need (ideally before the customers know it themselves) and are proactive in using this knowledge to enhance the customer experience.

Customers are prepared to pay a premium for a valuable service and sales support that they won’t find elsewhere.

Establish emotional connections

Emotion is the strongest driver of loyalty, yet is mostly overlooked in business despite the fact that how you your business makes customers feel matters more than what you say or do, at the end of the day.

McKinsey research has shown that emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely to recommend a product and to purchase it again. And where does this emotion come from? Basically - every single point of contact with your customers.

It’s crucial to treat your employees well, empowering and incentivising them to encourage a love of your brand that spills over into their work and onto your customers.

Improve employee skills, training and happiness

Having the right skills is critical to CX success, with the top 23% reporting that they acquire the necessary skills through a balanced mix of hiring fresh talent and retraining existing employees – as opposed to their less successful peers who rely more heavily on retraining existing staff to fill new roles and often shoehorn the wrong people into vital positions. 

Having the right people with the right skills, following a clear and supportive CX vision, can lead to that most powerful phenomenon – happy, engaged employees who translate your CX vision into a customer reality that creates happy, emotionally engaged customers.

Align within to deliver CX without equal

Leadership alignment and internal collaboration across departments is also crucial and is a priority, not an afterthought, for the successful CX leaders who know that delivering strategic direction from the top to aligned departments ensures a single, clear CX vision.

This aligned and collaborative delivery is also facilitated by technology, with CX leaders considering digital integration across sales and service channels to be 2-3 times as important as their peers.

Use outsourcing to gain the inside edge

Successful CX leaders place a far greater emphasis on working with other organisations to ensure they have the complete suite of skills they need to create the right customer experience.

Through targeted outsourcing and by employing relevant incentives and performance monitoring, they ensure the desired experience is delivered for their customers.

Make a big point of fixing the little things

The big things definitely matter – but sometimes small things can matter even more in successful CX delivery. A McKinsey article described how a major IT service provider increased customer loyalty by focusing more intensely on customer experience - and specifically the little things. 

The IT firm was determined to resolve small incidents which it once would have ignored and by choosing to resolve all these, the company saw numerous clients renew their contracts and increase their loyalty - a powerful result from little things.

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