This article was originally published by Gainsight.
Over the past few years, appreciation for B2B Customer Experience programs has grown stronger across board rooms thanks to business leaders who have successfully aligned their company’s marketing, sales, and customer success strategies around the needs and preferences of customers.
While this shift in mindset is certainly paying off for industry leaders, it has also brought to light the unique challenge B2B companies face when it comes to implementing a CX strategy.
For example, in B2B, there are numerous “moments of truth” which provide a company with many opportunities to delight or frustrate customers. These interactions include sales, implementation, renewal, support, in-product experience, and so on. And there are also various contact roles across customer accounts. If you’re not gathering robust and representative data across all key customer contact roles and segments to guide actions that will improve the customer experience, you’re at risk of losing market share to your competitors.
As more B2B companies make CX a priority, it becomes harder to differentiate—unless you are continuously evolving and maturing your programs. And, just like your customer relationships never stay static, nor should your approach and commitment to customer success.
As a customer experience consulting firm, we regularly talk with stakeholders who thirst for a greater impact from their CX programs. Here are some ideas you may be able to implement as you look for opportunities to make the customer experience front and center in your company:
1. Ensure you have “real” buy-in
A well thought-out customer experience initiative requires both a year-round commitment and a year-round dialogue. If key stakeholders across your organization view your CX program as “just another initiative” and not a true operating philosophy, customers and employees will undoubtedly take notice.
It’s easy to pay lip service to the importance of customer experience, but real buy-in is evidenced in various ways. For example, CX/CS leaders are allocated the budget they need to appropriately staff their organization and run the programs that will deliver the insights needed. The right people are empowered to get things done that will improve customer retention and advocacy. The voice of the customer permeates everything, including company updates, team meetings, huddles, employee recognition, etc. And decisions are made that may be “economically irrational” in the short-term but are beneficial to the customer in the longer term. Now that’s buy-in!
2. Get better at quantifying the impact of your efforts
When deciding to continue, expand, or scrap a program, the first question asked will often be about the return on investment. Business leaders justifiably want to know whether the program is benefitting the company financially. That’s why we advise CS leaders to do what they can to quantify the impact of the company’s CX programs. This isn’t always easy. It requires a connection to be made between customer experience data and operational data. The “holy grail” of customer experience is to determine precisely how your CX programs are impacting revenue and profitability. For example, if you can quantify the revenue impact of an improvement made based on customer feedback, then it’s very likely that support for your efforts will grow.
If those types of calculations prove too challenging, start with less sophisticated efforts, such as how much revenue your team saved by addressing customer concerns through diligent closed-loop follow-up efforts, or new revenue generated by expanding relationships with your promoters.
We’ve seen countless CX programs re-energized by showing compelling evidence that efforts are paying off, shared company-wide through effective customer-focused storytelling.
3. Use customer feedback to define company priorities
For many business leaders, the fourth quarter is typically the time for reflection on company performance this year, and for planning for the coming year. What is working well and, importantly, where is improvement needed so the company can meet or exceed financial objectives in the year(s) ahead? Even the fastest-growing organizations recognize the need for continuous improvement. The question is—how are those initiatives identified and prioritized?
Many C-level executives rely heavily on customer feedback as one of the “inputs” in their decision-making. For those who prefer that decisions be guided by data and facts, insights gleaned from customer experience endeavors prove to be a valuable resource. When properly executed, your CX programs should serve as a blueprint for your priorities. A data-driven approach will help ensure the investments you are making are the ones that will resonate most with your customers, and better position you against the competition. Encourage these efforts by ensuring your CX data is valid, trusted, and readily available to those who are defining your company’s priorities.
4. Form a CX Championship Team
Another way to increase the impact your CX program has on the organization is by forming a “Championship Team.” This is a hand-selected, cross-functional group of passionate people who are charged with discussing customer feedback on a regular basis (often monthly), researching root cause activities, recommending improvement initiatives, and reporting back to the organization.
A Championship Team can also play a critical role in bringing about change across the company in terms of culture, process, product, and service. Team members can be charged with leading a groundswell of enthusiasm and support for all CX activities. Their dedication can be infectious, which also helps elevate the culture of customer-centricity in your company.
5. Consider other opportunities to gather feedback
Measuring the customer experience shouldn’t only be accomplished with surveys. There are additional programs that will help uncover any hidden red flags that may be influencing or contributing to customer frustration. World-class service companies establish “listening posts” at all important touchpoints along the customer journey. Programs like a Customer Advisory Board (CAB), Customer Defection Analysis, and Sales Win Loss program are quite common among SaaS organizations.
Our clients like the CAB model because it offers a significant opportunity for senior leaders to get a direct link to the voice of the customer and solicit feedback that can inform important strategic decisions. A Customer Defection Analysis examines the root causes of dissatisfaction through in-depth interviews with decision-makers at accounts that have churned. A Sales Win Loss program provides clarity into how your offering aligns with market needs, and whether your message resonates with your ideal customers.
While not new, the term “customer experience” (CX) is gaining prominence across all industries. By establishing a strong foundation for your CX program today, you’ll be able to drive meaningful results—not to mention profitable growth—for your company over the long term.
To dig deeper into these best practices, schedule a complimentary consultation for your CX program.