Over the past two years, organizations have faced new challenges in attracting and retaining customers: an entirely new business environment and culture, threats of ongoing inflation, labor & supply chain shortages, and pandemic-related disruptions. Under these new conditions, one thing remains undeniable, a strong customer experience (CX) is a business imperative.
Today, B2B customers stay loyal to organizations due to the experience they receive rather than simply the price or quality of a SaaS platform. For these B2B businesses to continue securing loyalty with existing, but also winning over new customers, alike, CX has grown from a “nice to have” to invaluable in its importance as a key differentiator.
Looking back now, it is easy to see that a change in customer priorities began in the early days of the pandemic in 2020, when the surge in distributed workforces and e-commerce began. The pivoting in 2021 marked a change in the power dynamic of CX across the board, and as we look ahead to 2022, the maturing of an internal CX program within the organization is vital to maintaining the existing customer base and expanding within your industry.
With this in mind, here are a few recommendations for the New Year to answer the question – “How are your platforms and teams going to provide more robust customer experiences into 2022?”
1. Develop a robust CX program that business leaders can stand behind and build a customer-centric culture within the organization.
Satrix Solutions conducted an industry survey on the Net Promoter System within the B2B community to determine the use, impact, and preferences within B2B organizations. The results showed that more than 75% of business leaders are using “likely to recommend” in conjunction with other questions, such as customer satisfaction across various dimensions, for deeper insight. Developing a survey, authoring compelling communications, objectively analyzing the quantitative & qualitative data, and closing the loop in a meaningful way with your customers are just some of the elements to govern when establishing or maturing your customer experience program. Making the investment in a quick dashboard platform to assist in these endeavors is a common practice among organizations first establishing their customer-centric vision.
It is not enough though for your C-Suite to say they want to strengthen your service culture and establish a dashboard for others to use. Employees need to see business leaders involved and walk the walk in these initiatives as well. Dashboards are limiting and only look to examine several quantitative metrics for the organization. Some organizations also make an investment into something like retention marketing. By placing more emphasis on customer retention and loyalty, you not only effectively create a second sales team of enthusiastic promoters, but you also show employees that you are committed to fostering a culture of customer experience.
2. Socialize customer feedback throughout the organization to make a strong service culture central to your organizational vision.
As the world is forced to pivot quickly, so too are B2B organizations. Now it is experimentation and innovating early and often that is viewed as distinguishing characteristics of a successful business under the transformation of COVID. This means that CX programs and their stakeholders must employ direct connections with customers to ensure their experiences both with the products and the service teams are meeting their ever-changing needs. It is this more in-depth feedback that will allow the organization to understand the direction their customers need from them.
The silos between customer success and other internal teams need to be broken down to allow organizations to share customer feedback broadly. But many organizations struggle with sharing customer feedback in such a way that it appears meaningful and actionable for each unique team within the organization. To that end, many organizations are struggling to converge their various teams into using a shared objective such as getting closer to customers or inserting the customer experience into overall organizational strategy. To further mature the program, an investment can be made to develop socialization channels within the organization to break down silos that can prevent the feedback from being shared.
3. Organizations with more mature CX programs are conducting more qualitative research.
Assessing qualitative data from customer feedback has emerged as a complement and even an enhancement to quantitative data, adding more context to explain the “why” behind customer behavior, not just the “what”. Based on our recent Net Promoter Study, only 64% of organizations have had a qualitative component in their customer experience survey(s) in the past year. The organizations that use open-ended questions in their customer experience surveys have realized that gaining context requires intelligence beyond just numbers.
Analyzing this written feedback, however, can be very time-consuming and most organizations do not have the internal bandwidth to appropriately draw actionable intel and conclusions from it. Also, artificial methods to code the written information into proper contextual sentiments are still lagging despite improvements in technology. Currently, the best method is for objective individuals to read the feedback and code it as it was written, based on tone, context of scores given to other questions, and overall theme from the survey response.
If an organization is going to act upon this feedback, an objective analysis, removing bias surrounding the existing customer relationship or individuals who responded to the survey allows for a true assessment of the customers’ ever-changing needs and current experiences with the organization.
3 business strategy recommendations for 2022
As there is an ever-increasing need to curate and review more quantitative and qualitative feedback from customers, the need to develop and maintain concise and actionable feedback that can be easily digested by all parts of an organization will determine the success of these necessary endeavors. Intelligence from the closed-loop process benefits every single function of an organization that touches customers or prospects: sales, marketing, product roadmap, service initiatives, partnerships, etc. A customer-centric organization is one that expands the customer experience beyond metrics and creates an environment to speak directly to customers regularly and in deeply meaningful ways that strengthen existing relationships.
For a future-proof business strategy into 2022, organizations must:
1. Develop a program that allows you to move indomitably forward.
Business leaders require quantitative and qualitative actionable insights on a reoccurring basis for in-hand decision-making during meetings. Gathering feedback that can give them a window into their customers’ aspirations both in metrics and in the customers’ own words is a powerful way to influence the decision-making process.
2. Make insights shareable beyond CX and Customer Success teams.
Possessing this data and having the entire organization consuming the data are two very different things. CX teams may not know how best to depict the data for all of these various stakeholders, which is where a third party can assist once again, to develop reporting specific for each group’s workflow. Having a third-party assist in providing the data to you in varying forms to help you articulate the data in ways that can be consumed by varying groups within the organization is key to building adoption of the customer-centric vision.
3. Employ an objective third-party to administer and consult on customer feedback programs.
Third-party consultants in this arena can help to objectively develop, administer, communicate, and analyze customer feedback in ways employees within the organization cannot. The unbiased dissemination of the insights from customers is what will differentiate those with just fledgling customer feedback programs from those world-class customer-centric organizations.
Turning insights into action
In 2022, organizations that have teams running in the same direction will move with speed and agility, and be ahead of the pack.
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