Does your company have a Customer Experience strategy? It should.

Customer-savvy companies, especially those in the B2C world, are mapping out their customers’ experience and creating strategies to enhance every interaction, from initial contact to sales and service. However, B2B companies have been slower to recognize the importance of a Customer Experience strategy. That is a big mistake for any B2B organization that cares about customer retention and referrals, or for revenues from cross-sales and up-sales to happy customers.

Fortunately, B2B companies have an advantage over their B2C counterparts; B2B customer experiences are much more complex and multifaceted, giving B2B vendors many more opportunities to enhance the experience. B2B customer relationships typically involve multiple employees at both organizations – executives, sales staff, department managers, trainers, end users – at various stages of the relationship.

Suppliers and their customers may interact through marketing presentations, contract negotiations, needs assessments, account management, implementation discussions, training and consulting, and conversations with service and support staff. Whether your company sells office phone systems, enterprise software, or coffee services, those interactions offer excellent opportunities to enrich the Customer Experience.

At Host Analytics, we have a well-defined methodology for managing each customer’s journey from sales through renewal. Each journey is tailored depending on the products and services that the customer requires; the experience level of their internal resources; their timeline for implementation; and of course, their short-term and long-term goals. Thanks to this comprehensive approach, we have been able to achieve negative churn.

I’ll share with you a few of the most important components of our customer success strategy.

Detailed discovery

Knowing what your customers want and need is the foundation of any customer success strategy. To discover those needs, we help customers define what ‘success’ means to them. We do this before the contract is signed, so there are no misunderstandings. If we can’t give them what they need, we don’t sign the contract.

Discovery is only complete when you have a clear understanding and documentation of all the factors that matter to the customer. This ‘definition of success’ should be documented, reviewed, and updated regularly throughout the relationship so that you and your customer are all focused on achieving the same goals.

The customer journey map

The next step is to map out your customer’s journey, based on what you documented during the discovery phase. The map should include all the steps, interactions, products and services recommendations, timelines, user training, and the names of the people who will be helping the customer along the way.

We tell our customers exactly what to expect, when, and who will be doing it. Knowing these details reassures the customer that we’re taking care of their needs and gives them the confidence that they are on the right track. Many aspects of the journey map are tailored to the customer’s specific requirements.

For example, we create ‘tailored training plans’ (TTPs) to make the training as specific and useful as possible. Too often, customer training means every user is trained on every feature of the product, regardless of when they may utilise that functionality and if it is critical to their specific use case.

TTPs prescribe the right training to the user based on their role and where they are in their roll-out of the solution. These courses are bite-sized and delivered just in time over the course of the implementation so that the user gets the right instruction appropriate to the functionality being deployed.

Customer success managers

At Host Analytics, we assign each customer to a liaison or advocate that serves as their central point of contact. The advocate’s goal is to ensure the customer is successful with our solution, receives value, and becomes a customer for life. They orchestrate the relationship, intervene when problems arise, proactively engage with the customer, and get them answers to questions fast.

According to KPMG’s report, B2B Customer Experience: Winning in the Moments that Matter, having a relationship manager increases customer loyalty. KPMG surveyed UK companies on their relationships with IT vendors. They found that those who were given a customer service liaison were much happier with their vendor – 95 percent – than those with only automated relationships at 61 percent.

Prioritise the customer

The goal of any business is to grow revenues and profits. But for many of these businesses, customer loyalty is necessary to achieve that growth and profitability. To earn that loyalty, businesses must show that they put their customers’ interests on par with their own.

Customer success is difficult to automate. While some aspects can be aided by technology – such as with one-to-many communications, or automated notification of changes in user behaviour – customer success depends primarily on personal interactions.

Better 2 Best lists six pillars of behavior that are key to a good B2B customer experience. Half of them are character related – integrity, meeting expectations, and empathy. The others – personalisation, ease of doing business, and rapid problem resolution – depend on the vendor making customer success a priority.

Ultimately, B2B companies that can successfully solve their customers’ problems and maintain a trusting relationship will benefit from higher retention, more referrals, lower attrition, reduced sales costs, and overall healthier growth and profitability.

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