To gain (or maintain) traction in the marketplace, it’s no longer enough to offer great products and services. Customer expectations have risen in modern commerce, and to meet those high expectations you need to have a deep understanding of your customers’ wants, needs, and goals. Even – especially? – when your customers are other businesses. B2B customer journey mapping is an effective way to get at those valuable insights…and accomplish much, much more. That’s why it’s become a cornerstone effort for any organization that seeks to stand out from the crowd.
The data is clear. Putting customers at the center of how you do business pays off with customers who buy more (and more often), stay with you longer, and recommend you to their contacts and colleagues.
It all gets down to engaging with customers in a meaningful way to deliver a great experience at the most critical touchpoints. But how do you identify what’s meaningful to customers and what those critical touchpoints are?
Capturing the voice of the B2B customer
The most important thing is to capture the journey from your customer’s perspective. And the only way to do that is to talk to them. This is particularly important in B2B environments, which are, by nature, complex. Typically, the one buying your products is not the one using them on a day-to-day basis. And unlike a B2C shopper considering buying, say, a blender on Amazon, the purchasing decision might involve a monthslong decision-making process, dozens (if not hundreds) of stakeholders, committing to lengthy contracts, and investing millions of dollars.
The cost of making the wrong decision in B2B enterprises can mean lost revenue, lost jobs, and lost brand confidence – all on an outsized scale. The high stakes make the journey more fraught for your customers and therefore more important to understand for you.
It also means that the potential rewards are greater, too.
Finding the right answers
So how does journey mapping unlock the knowledge you need? By capturing all of your customer’s interactions with your company and analyzing how each of those interactions affects that customer’s overall experience. This gives you the insight needed to strategically pinpoint your journey improvements to cost-effectively maximize impact, whether your goal is to prevent churn, reduce friction, identify barriers to sales, or boost loyalty.
Journey mapping can also reveal vulnerabilities, even in customers who seem relatively satisfied. By identifying the “moments of truth” that play a disproportionate role in your customers’ perception of the journey, and their pain points, you can identify which of your initiatives are likely to spark and sustain growth and profitability, and which aren’t worth the effort. (No more blindly throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks!)
You might choose to start by mapping the end-to-end journey, from initial awareness through to post-purchase follow-up. Or you might focus on a specific sub-journey first. If you make that decision based on the needs of your business, you’ll get the information you need to optimize your marketing, sales, and service strategies to meet your customers’ needs.
But in the process, you will accomplish so much more.
B2B customer journey mapping enables you to:
Promote a customer-centric culture across your organization.
Many B2B employees can go their entire careers without ever meeting one of their customers. But should they? That would be a resounding NO!
Journey mapping offers your teams a chance to hear directly from customers, an extremely compelling experience. (Depending on your business goals, you might also want to hear from non-customers and those served by your competitors!) Customers’ open-ended feedback on the journey offers a goldmine of information that can showcase where you’re building loyalty and where you’re degrading it.
Long term, giving your teams the opportunity to listen to customers’ concerns and ideas helps foster a customer-centric mindset that can transform the way you do business.
Break down silos to facilitate communication between different departments.
Siloed teams not only miss out on opportunities to collaborate, they can also inadvertently be working at cross-purposes, depressing performance across the company.
When properly executed, the journey mapping process brings together a cross-functional team (often for the first time), so that a wide variety of stakeholders are invested in both the journey mapping process and the initiatives that follow.
It also provides an opportunity to streamline your operations, as you examine how your departments interact with each other, and the impact that has on customers. Aligning all of your teams around a shared objective makes everyone more efficient.
Identify your most important customers.
Journey mapping helps you sort and segment your customers. But also to understand which of them mean the most to your bottom line. It might be controversial to say, but that doesn’t make it less accurate: Not all customers are created equal.
Focusing on your most valuable customer segments allows you to reap greater benefits and accelerate the impact of your CX initiatives. That’s a win for your customers and the company.
Track the impact of your initiatives.
When you integrate the foundational learnings from your static journey map into journey mapping software, you’ll also be able to measure, monitor, and optimize the journey in real time, and address any obstacles preventing customers from fully engaging with your brand.
The ability to demonstrate quantifiable results is critical to securing and sustaining C-suite support for your customer experience program. This drives momentum that empowers you to increase your impact over time…and your importance within your organization.
After all, which is more compelling to report? That your survey scores went up 10 points…or that you reduced churn 10% year-over-year? That you have a 75% favorability rating…or a 75% share of wallet?
Measurable financial results are compelling to executives. Survey scores? Not so much.
With its multifaceted impact, B2B customer journey mapping acts as a catalyst for change. Consider it the Swiss Army knife in your CX toolbox!