Why just appointing a CXO isn't the answer to CX management
Are B2B brands falling behind when it comes to CX?
Whether you like it or not, every B2B company delivers a rational product or service, but also delivers an emotion – it just hasn’t been purposefully designed or engineered. B2B companies are probably as good or as bad as B2C, but the better ones are certainly starting to think ‘what can I do to fix this’.
The reality is, marketers are already spending this money today. Why on earth wouldn’t you be doing it in a way that is consistent at the very least, and maybe optimised to be worthy of your product? This is not about additional spend, this is about wisely spending the cash you’re already spending, but with some intent to deliver a joined up experience. It’s not new cash, it’s purposefully engineering the experience so it’s joined up.
What is good CX in B2B?
[Customer experience] actually only works when it all works. If you’ve got a really great salesperson delivering on the brand promise and bringing to life the whole proposition, and a new customer is then met by a grumpy member of staff, or the product doesn’t do what the salesperson promised, or the first bill is different from what they expected – the customer starts to lose confidence and trust.
"As a customer, you know when you’re getting a good experience, because the conversation you’re having starts from the last one you had"
You have this emotional equity – an emotional ‘bank balance’ with your customer – that starts off from zero because they don’t know you, but you add to it on the initial interaction, and every time the product works, you add to it again. You can’t touch a customer (whether it’s in B2B or B2C) and leave that equity unchanged. You’re either adding to it or diluting it.
Finally, as a customer, you know when you’re getting a good experience, because the conversation you’re having starts from the last one you had. Nothing is a surprise.
Isn’t CX quite a woolly subject? Where should marketers start?
It is absolutely a wolly subject, and it’s not helped by the fact marketing is always banging on about the brand. My advice is always to start with a problem (e.g. churn, or an issue with a competitor) and use CX alignment tools to fix that problem. Find out where there is ‘blood on the floor’ and use a CX lens to fix it (ideally with a turned-on, tuned-in leader). Then use these end-to-end customer lenses to start highlighting what is working and what isn’t.
At what stage of the buyer journey should businesses be investing their CX budget?
With all the evidence I’ve seen, you almost invariably need to start at the onboarding of new customers. The point at which you start to do business – getting someone on board safely – get that right, and the whole relationship works beautifully. Get that wrong and you’ve started off with a poor foundation.
"Whoever is responsible for the customer experience brief needs to be highly credible and highly trusted by the leadership team in the business"
The onboarding part has massively disproportional impact on the long-term standing that you have with the customer, so that’s where to put your budget.
Who should be leading on CX?
Groups of leaders will often say ‘we all are’ and of course that’s right – but when you’re all responsible, no one is responsible at the same time. You need someone who’s going to be the champion. Marketing is as good a champion as anybody, but then of course it becomes a marketing effort.
Whoever is responsible for the customer experience brief needs to be highly credible and highly trusted by the leadership team in the business. Credibility and confidence in the programme comes from the credibility and confidence in the person that’s been given the brief. It could be operations, it could be product, it could be marketing… it really doesn’t matter. But CX needs to be owned by somebody, but it can’t be seen as a sales or marketing ‘initiative’, it’s a cross-business challenge.
What about creating a CXO role?
There are relatively few chief experience officers who stick around – boards will often decide CX is important, put a CXO in place, and then think they’ve ‘taken the pill’ and experience is dealt with. That doesn’t actually do anything. Making someone the lead is actually what’s needed – they have to be highly thought of, highly credible, emotionally intelligent, and able to understand the cross-business brief they’ve been given. Just putting someone in that post isn’t the answer – it’s a tough brief, so highly credible individuals need to be leading this agenda.
"My sense is that businesses don’t need more technology or more consultants"
It’s okay to give someone that job in addition to their day job – the sales lead can also be the leader on the experience agenda. I’ve seen this work well when somebody at senior level – very credible, very well thought of – is given the CX brief. From the outset, what you need is a senior champion.
What’s holding companies back from delivering good CX?
It’s hard, trying to be customer centric. Don’t embark on this unless you are aware of its far-reaching nature.
My sense is that businesses don’t need more technology or more consultants – they actually need to have the capability in their business to understand what kind of experience they want to deliver. These are internal skills the business needs to have. B2B organisations tend to be very centred on product or sales, which means there’s less of that cross-business connective tissue, and that’s what gets in the way. If there isn’t that cross-business awareness, that’s what’s missing.
What is the brand promise, and what is the experience we need to deliver to meet the brand promise? That isn’t happening because there isn’t that cross-business connective tissue.
CXcellence: How to achieve CX success in B2B
When does customer experience matter most? And what can you do to deliver an exceptional customer experience throughout the customer journey?
In this research project we surveyed 100 B2B buyers and 165 B2B marketers to find out exactly when CX matters most, and which parts of the experience marketers should be focusing their efforts on.
This report reveals:
- When CX matters most in the buyer journey
- Which CX factors are the most influential in buyers' decision-making
- Where marketers are currently focusing their CX efforts, and their biggest CX management challenges.
Read this report to:
- Understand how CX really impacts buyers
- Refocus your CX efforts on the areas that matters most
- Start building an effective, organisation-wide CX programme that will produce tangible results.