Failure fame and the power of ‘why’

Great customer experience starts with engaging your people, and establishing why your brand does what it does is a vital component of that, says Adam Holder

The light has flicked on.

Digital transparency is illuminating B2B businesses, and their (in)ability to delight customers, like never before. Once, poor customer experience could skulk unchallenged in the gloom, known only to those directly affected. Now, the glare of social media feedback puts every lapse in a global spotlight, immediately visible and easily searchable.

Failure becomes famous. And the only way businesses can avoid it is to empower their teams in the art of customer service excellence.

It starts with one word: why.

At B2B Marketing’s CXcellence event in November 2016 we heard that customer service is now the number one measure of trust in B2B vendors. It affects advocacy, loyalty, lifetime customer value and, ultimately, revenue.

No surprise then that upwards of 80% of B2B executives now consider customer experience a key priority for business effectiveness.

For many years we’ve been thinking creatively about how to make customer experience improvements on behalf of our clients; mapping and optimising the sum of engagements across every touchpoint, each moment of truth, throughout the entire customer lifecycle and beyond.

But what we mean by good customer experience is changing. Brands like Amazon, Apple, Uber and Netflix have raised the benchmark. Their service levels, single customer view, accuracy and responsiveness have become the yardstick by which every other brand experience is measured, regardless of the blurring lines between B2B and B2C.

Achieving persistent, organisational customer experience success is a long game, requiring various components. But there’s one thing everyone at CXcellence agreed on: good customer experience starts and ends with your people. Employee engagement correlates directly with customer experience.

"People are no longer content to be told what and how a brand does what it does. They want to know ‘why’"

This means that, with the internet and social media lighting up the room, you need your people to care. They need to be inspired.

Delivering that inspiration is a challenge on a par with any rebrand. It begins with a seemingly simple but fundamental question.


People are no longer content to be told what and how a brand does what it does. They want to know ‘why’.

Profit and growth are not acceptable whys: bottom-line measurements are the results of ‘what’ you do.

We help businesses define their why. It’s about their contribution – their ability to articulate what they contribute to their industry, to society, to sustainability, environmental or social issues.

‘Why’ is important for your external brand. But for the people that represent you, it’s vital.

With generation X and millennials continuing to represent a greater chunk of the workforce, the need for brands to be clear and genuine about their ‘why’ is an accelerating trend in B2B.

Three-quarters of millennials believe businesses should be cultural benefactors, while nine out of 10 millennials and gen-Xers feel brands should do more good, not just ‘less bad’.

These are B2B’s future decision-makers, your incoming talent. Under their spotlight, the prospect of ignoring what’s important to them is going the way of displacing tribes and casual bribery.

These days, the tribes have smartphones, and if you don’t measure up they’ll take you to the cleaners on Twitter and Glassdoor. Talking a good game won’t cut it. The lights are on.

You need to live your ‘why’, and the people delivering your customer experience need to believe it or no one will.

B2B Agencies Report 2016-17

This piece was originally published in the B2B Agencies Benchmarking Report 2016-17.

Download the report now to find out the:

  • Top 75 UK B2B agencies
  • Top 40 global B2B agencies
  • Top 20 fastest-growing UK B2B agencies
  • Top 20 B2B PR agencies. 

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B2B Agencies League Table 2016-17 listing image