Whilst few B2B executives would disagree that it’s important to provide a great Customer Experience, many struggle to translate their best intentions into practical transformational actions.
Here are five practical steps B2B executives can take to improve their CX.
1) Design, document ,and implement CX-enhancing processes
For world-class CX, the customer journey needs to be mapped out in as much detail as possible. Asking simple questions such as ‘How do we want our customers to feel when they visit our website and what do we want them to do?’ will help stimulate thought as to what pre-determined outcomes we are looking for and how they are to be realised. Organisations such as Boost Performance can help here.
This same approach is needed for every aspect of the customer life cycle. For example, ‘What’s our complaints procedure?’; ‘Do we want to engage and maintain a good relationship with our customer’s C-Suite, and if so, how are we going to do it, over and over again?’ The list goes on.
A highly engaging, effective and consistent CX needs to be well thought through, deliberate, and able to be documented. Only when it is documented can it be challenged and improved.
2) Shift the mindset (and job titles) of the sales team from being a team of salespeople to a team of Account Managers
While on the surface this may seem like a superficial change, when approached from a position of cultivating great CX, the results can be dramatic. Salespeople by definition are there to sell, whereas Account Managers (who are also required to sell) need to be sufficiently trained and remunerated so they prioritise the management of their accounts before the desire to sell into them.
To this end, they need to possess and be helped to develop a much broader set of skills rather than simply controlling the sales cycle, such as:
How to question and communicate at a strategic business-value level
How to build empathy
How to be creative
How to be commercially savvy
How to be an effective internal and external networker
How to manage conflict and solve problems
How to delegate upwards, downwards, and sideways
How to challenge
How to research and share insights
Organisations such as Sales Gym 360 have training programmes designed to develop not just the skills, but the behaviours and mindset of B2B salespeople too, thereby helping to improve what they do and how they do it.
They are also very good at sharing insights on how to design and implement CX-enhancing remuneration plans.
3) Develop a zero-risk approach to customer service
If whatever you are selling either: a) materially impacts your customer’s profits; b) impacts a material number of their employees; or c) impacts members of their Executive team, it is important that it is made clear very early on to your primary contacts that if something goes wrong, it’s going to be put right long before there are any personal or financial repercussions, as customers make purchasing decisions based not just on the quality of a product/service, but on the quality of the service that accompanies it.
Businesses should be empathetic to the concerns of the buyer and work hard to reassure them. In practical terms this could involve easy to understand Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
4) A focus on continually improving the Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Businesses selling to other businesses should embrace NPS® to make it central to their customer satisfaction strategy. Far too often the Marketing department is tasked with sending sporadic surveys out asking all sorts of questions that aren’t always fully acted upon.
A better approach is to regularly ask customers one simple NPS-based question, such as: ‘Considering your complete experience with our company, how likely would you be to recommend us?’, then circulate and act upon the individual responses accordingly.
If customers know they are going to be asked for feedback that will be acted upon, they will be more likely to respond to the questions asked.
5) Invest in tools to help create a better and more controlled buyer-supplier collaborative experience
In B2B sales organisations this is the least considered and least invested in area, and yet the quickest to fix.
Most organisations rely solely on email and phone to communicate with their customers. Whilst both can be effective at communicating simple messages, relying exclusively on them as your primary CX-management tool can be dangerous as the CX can end up being negatively impacted.
When you have complex B2B engagements where there are multiple stakeholders from both communities, you need to provide a sufficient online ‘space’ where all relevant personnel can come together and collaborate on the implementation of existing agreements, in addition to discussing new projects and ideas. Client Share can help here.
Organisations looking to develop a market-disruptive CX need to give due consideration to their PEOPLE, PROCESSES, and TECHNOLOGIES. Getting all three areas aligned takes vision, time, Executive sponsorship, commitment, and investment, but the effort will be worth it as an engaging CX will help win new business, retain customers, and grow the average spend-per-account.