We just published a Temkin Group report, Best Practices in B2B Customer Experience. Here’s the executive summary:
Customer experience is gaining more attention within business-to-business (B2B) organizations. Rightfully so—customer experience drives loyalty with business customers. At the same time, clients and prospects, who increasingly compare business interactions with their personal consumer experiences, are raising the expectations of B2B relationships. While our research has shown that most B2Bs are still mastering the basics, our interviews with 28 companies uncovered best practices for building a more client-oriented mindset through closed-loop voice of the customer programs, customer journey maps, and virtual client advisory boards. Using the customer insights they collect, forward-thinking B2B organizations are becoming more client-centric in how they develop new business, create account plans, and proactively provide support (or intervene when service breakdowns occur). To sustain superior customer experience, B2B firms must master four competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness.
The report identifies many best practices across two areas:
- Building a client-oriented mindset. Organizations have a natural tendency to operate from an internal perspective, focusing on the needs of their functional silos more than on their clients. To offset this tendency, B2B firms need to build repeatable and systematic processes for gathering, analyzing, and taking action on customer insights. The report identifies best practices in the following areas:
- Develop Closed-Loop Voice of the Client (VoC) Programs. Having a reliable flow of customer insights across the organization is critical to driving customer-centric actions.
- Use Journey Maps to Better Understand Clients’ Needs. To better understand how clients see their experiences, B2B organizations can use a tool known as customer journey mapping.
- Tap Into Virtual Client Advisory Boards. Client advisory boards (CAB) and councils provide the opportunity to acquire more insight into customer needs and expectations.
- Building client-centric relationship management. Today, account management functions tend to be oriented around sales generation and firefighting. To build stronger, longer-term ties with clients, Temkin Group expects that B2B firms will head towards a more client-centric model of account management that uses client insights throughout the relationship management continuum. The report identifies best practices in the following areas:
- Account-Level Experience Reporting. To acquire, retain, and grow B2B relationships, account managers need to understand what’s working and not working for each of their clients.
- Insightful Business Development. B2B organizations that gather and use the right customer insights during this early stage will create a differentiated experience from the start of the relationship
- Collaborative Account Planning. By taking a structured and collaborative approach to developing in-depth account plans, companies can tap into their enterprise knowledge.
- Proactive Intervention and Support. B2B organizations need to use customer insights and feedback from account managers to intervene in service experiences gone wrong as quickly as possible with well-defined, robust recovery procedures.
The report provides a plethora of specific practices in these areas from companies such as Becker and Poliakoff, CDW, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Enterasys, Equinix, Genworth Financial, Lithium, Lynden, Philadelphia Insurance Companies, Oracle, Salesforce.com, SanDisk, Stream Global, Verint, and VMware.
The bottom line: B2B companies need more customer-centric enterprise relationships