Improving the B2B Customer Experience

Accenture recently released the results of a study of how B2B companies perform in providing the customer experience (CX) B2B markets want today. A summary infographic of the results can be found here: Start Playing to Win, Stop Playing to lose.

The customer experience the report explores is generally defined as the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. In a thematic sense B2B customers have started to expect their interactions with their suppliers to be similar to their consumer experiences. They don’t expect to buy enterprise software or raw materials on their smartphone. But they do want their experience to be focused on their needs and for complexity to be reduced as much as possible.

The three statistics that jumped out us to from Accenture’s report are:

  • 70% of B2B executives believe their customers constantly reevaluate supplies and partners in an ongoing search for the best results and CX.
  • 85% believe their long-term financial goals are linked to how their customers view their CX.
  • Despite its perceived importance only 24% of B2B companies are “masters of the customer experience” as defined by Accenture.

The report goes on to outline how to systematically evaluate, manage and improve the customer experience business provide their B2B customers.

One of the key steps in the process is developing a thorough understanding of what customers notice and value. If you’ve been in the market long enough intuition and common sense can get you close to what is important to B2B customers. However, they can also overinflate the importance of some factors and undervalue others. They best way to understand what is important to your customers is to engage with them directly. Qualitative research can help identify the dimensions that customers find important and quantitative research can profile the relative importance of the dimensions. Once you know what is important to customers you can evaluate your investments and performance in those areas and make adjustments where necessary.

The research can be informal or formal, although Accenture recommends using hard metrics to evaluate your performance. You can handle the process internally or turn to an external research consultant such as Isurus. Regardless of the approach you take the end goal is the same – developing a customer experience road map that matches what your customers are looking for.