A “village” of people internally influencing B2B buying decisions is universal to most B2B CXM scenarios. This single fact means a lot. If the purpose of customer surveys is to accurately monitor customers’ likelihood of rebuying, then you must gain an understanding of each influencer’s expectations and sentiment.
Integrating the viewpoints of the “village”, to paint a realistic picture, is a logical follow-up to this. In consumer situations, there are usually only a couple of viewpoints to integrate for any purchase: husband and wife, parent and child. But for B2B situations, you may be grappling with integrating the views of the user, purchasing agent, plant manager, and gatekeepers for IT, safety, facilities, and quality, among others.
Extensive post-purchase interaction is another commonality among many B2B relationships. This may be related to a complicated deployment such as enterprise software, or peer-to-peer, such as engineers from the supplier and customer companies meeting to work out usage details, or a customer appointee who interfaces with multiple locations of the supplier company in a single morning.
These are 3 keys to getting B2B customer experience management right:
1) Capture the Whole Buying Decision Equation
Why try to tie CX to financials without fully understanding who’s driving what?
- Identify all parties within a customer account with the power to kill a buying decision.
- Characterize each party’s expectations: why would they vote "no" on your brand?
- Quantify the consequences of meeting or missing each party’s expectations.
- Design your customer-listening portfolio to keep a radar on their sentiment.
- Conduct stratified random sampling to ensure representation of each party.
- Assign weights to survey data as needed to properly represent buying decision dynamics.
- Assume that whoever signs the contract or transacts with your service organization is a spokesperson for their company.
- Send a one-size fits all survey to each party.
- Invite every contact in your CRM database to participate in a survey: what you end up with will not be representative of truth.
- Assume that a series of transactions represents the customer experience that can be reasonably tied to bookings.
2) Integrate Influencers’ Inputs to Paint an Accurate Picture
Simplification of the complex picture is essential for tackling the issues and formulating better strategies to capitalize on opportunities.
- Weight and nest the parties’ inputs for more realistic linkages to bookings.
- Make your customer intelligence reports compelling: show the parties’ interests through flow-charts, tree charts, overlapping circles, cause-and-effect diagrams, activity network diagrams, or interrelationship diagraphs.
- Make sure action plans reflect inputs from all influencers.
- Assume that averages and bar charts convey what’s needed to be actionable and effective.
- Ignore the opportunity to get valuable insights from your dedicated sales team.
- Let the account teams obscure insights that can help the rest of the company help them.
3) Ensure Post-purchase Customer Experience Consistency
Why work so hard to manage perceptions, but ignore these vital touchpoints?
- Make it easy to capture informal comments.
- Stream informal feedback to relevant groups throughout your company.
- Establish cadence and methodology for originators to prevent issue recurrence.
- Motivate actions and follow-through on informal inputs.
- Use root cause action follow-through as your primary monitoring of CX progress.
- Set recognition and compensation on what managers are doing about VoC at the root level of key issues.
- Set the stage for streamlined re-purchase decisions: share actions and progress to proactively influence rebuying
- Rely on VoC self-service for acting on CX insights.
- Assume that inconsistencies will naturally work themselves out, or aren’t important to building trust and relationship strength.
- Wait to send a survey when you’re already getting a goldmine of insights that you can work on right away to be more proactive in influencing repurchase decisions.
- Use survey indexes for recognition, compensation, and progress monitoring.
B2B CXM has parallels with consumer experience management, but there are definite realities in B2B CXM that should be addressed in order to make the most of your efforts and investments. Experiment with these 3 B2B “musts”, or better yet, design them into your B2B customer experience management from the beginning. As the graphics above show, you’re likely to stand out from the crowd in your industry in doing so, and these methods may be an important customer experience differentiator for your company.
Note: The concept of “Do This, Not That” is borrowed from the popular book “Eat This, Not That“, where the weaknesses of common practices and myths are brought to light and sensible replacements are recommended.
My previously published B2B CXM articles on the CXPA blog:
ClearAction Continuum conducted the first-ever global study of B2B Customer Experience Management practices. The statistics referenced here are part of our 5-year study: https://clearaction.com/downloads/business-to-business-customer-experience-best-practices-study/