Managing a B2B experience isn’t more or less difficult than managing a B2C experience. It’s just different…and more complex. The need to understand multiple levels of your clients drives that complexity and is critical to a successful B2B CX strategy. You have to analyze the journeys of decision-makers, influencers, and users, as well as how each of those journeys impacts your client’s ongoing loyalty.
As I’m working on my new book, Do B2B Better: Driving Growth Through a Game-Changing Customer Experience, I think it would be helpful to share some B2B CX strategy trends that should be on your radar.
You don’t have to think about these. That is, as long as you’re okay with being among the 3 out of 4 who can’t show impact from their work. But if you’re a true Change Maker, these are the types of issues that might keep you up at night.
1. Data is the new journey mapping
If you’re even a little familiar with my work, you know I love journey mapping. And components of it are here to stay. Time spent interviewing customers – preferably on their home turf – will always be a good use of resources.
But there are changes afoot. While traditional journey mapping is still critical for uncovering why customers behave the way they do, it’s no longer the primary go-to source for what they do. Now, a leading B2B CX strategy is to use data to discover what customers are doing, with journey mapping providing more context and helping to drive empathy.
Data provides an impartial lens into customers’ actions, while interviews and surveys rely on customers’ recollections, which are always biased. Therefore, if you’re not using your customer ecosystem data to determine the true journey, you’re making plans based on flawed information.
2. The Chief Customer Officer will moonlight as the Chief Data Officer
Nearly every B2B client I talk with tells me how bad their data is. That’s no lie, but it’s no excuse, either.
Great B2B CX leaders work cross-functionally to get their data into manageable shape so that they can understand customers’ true behaviors. This not only enables a data-based understanding of the journey, it also enables more efficient and effective technology solutions.
3. The CCO and the CIO are going to spend more time fishing together
Okay, maybe they don’t fish. So let’s say playing Settlers of Catan. Or pickleball. Or maybe enjoying a good brunch. You get the drift.
My point is that the CCO of tomorrow recognizes that technology is the way to build a more consistent B2B CX strategy. Technology may be thought of as creating an emotionless digital experience, and there’s some truth to that. But it can also be used to give your customer-facing employees more access to that valuable data that was optimized by the CCO (see #2).
Once you watch your favorite customer service employee toggle between ten screens, you realize that technology impacts your customer experience (and employee experience) in many different ways. Your CCO and the CIO need to spend more time together to ensure your technology is serving the needs of your customers and your employees.
4. Net Revenue Retention will become the new NPS
Many programs do a “driver analysis” (a statistical analysis to see which of your survey questions are most influential, or drive, the dependent variable) to see which questions most impact NPS.
I used this technique years ago, but Share of Wallet was the dependent variable, not a survey metric. Most CX programs still use survey scores as their measure of success.
But great programs use business health as their success variable, measured by Customer Lifetime Value, Annual Recurring Revenue, or Net Revenue Retention. As such, they look to see which of their survey questions drive these financial metrics. That, in turn, will drive their actions.
If your B2B CX strategy isn’t driving customers to want to spend more with you, stay longer, and interact in less costly ways, then you’re focusing on the wrong things.
5. Trust will be the outcome of the future
So many CX leaders say, “referrals are our outcome.” But they don’t measure whether those referrals actually exist. They conflate “likelihood to recommend” with action and leave it at that, but there’s little correlation. Intent rarely equals behavior.
The B2B CX programs of the future will measure trust, and that will be their outcome. (Only, of course, after they validate that trust drives the financial outcomes discussed in #4.) In many experiences, trust leads directly to more orders and higher retention, as well as fewer costly phone calls. That’s the future of CX.
So you can sit back and watch these trends unfold. Or you can take note and start planning a highly effective B2B CX strategy today.
Your decision will determine whether you’re a Change Maker who can prove the impact and value of your CX initiatives, or whether you languish among the 3 in 4 programs weighed down by low retention and unable to drive value.