After recently attending the “How to create the optimum B2B customer experience” a Gallup and Limelight executive briefing using analytics and providing advice for B2B Leaders. Held at the Shard (fab building) if you get the opportunity to visit.
Below are the key points from the event which resonated with me.
We all know (hopefully) we gain more value by retaining our existing customers / clients (from this point referred to as customers) than turning a prospect into a new customer or completing RFP after RFP (Request for Proposal) or by making acquisitions, but do we measure & improve the relationships we currently have with our customers?
I will start with a story that perfectly signifies human emotional behaviour – used to open the briefing.
“The Urinal Fly – Aiming To Reduce Cleaning Costs” by Blake Evans-Pritchard
The picture of a fly in the urinals at Schiphol Airport has been touted as a simple, inexpensive way to reduce cleaning costs.
For the whole story – https://worksthatwork.com/1/urinal-fly
The message of the story is not only that men like to aim at things, but that we should work with human behaviour not against it!
How do we see the world through the eyes of our customers and build this into the relationships?
Most organisations have mechanisms in place that tell them how they rate with their customers, but those surveys tend to be nothing more than formalities. According to Gallup research B2B companies are missing the vital link between data and action. With companies either apathetic or unsure about what to do with the information they have gathered.
When customers share their thoughts and opinions, they expect to see change. If they inform their vendor that on-time delivery is an on-going issue, they rightfully assume that the vendor will take steps to fix its delivery process. If the vendor does nothing, its customers will become further disengaged and will not take the company or any of its future surveys seriously. Not tapping into your customers emotional intelligence by ignoring their issues or poor handling of problems can be exponentially harmful to your customer relationships.
Problem Handling Can Benefit Engagement
Gallup data show that one in five B2B customers have experienced a problem with a company or product, with only 40% of customers believing the B2B company resolved their problem. And only 5% of those customers say they are “very satisfied” with the way the company handled their problem.
Handling problems in the right way
While B2B companies should take every possible step to stop problems from happening in the first place, the truth is that issues happen because they are a by-product of doing business. But all is not lost when problems occur.
The key to fixing mistakes and improving engagement is to think beyond problem resolution. This may sound odd, but there is a difference between fixing a problem and engaging a customer. While all customers want a satisfactory resolution to their problem, they are more concerned with how the company handles their problem than with the ultimate answer to that problem. Companies do not absolve themselves by fixing the issue; they do so by taking care of the customer’s emotional needs.
What B2B Companies can do to Improve Customer Engagement
- Measure Objectively – use an impartial third party to assess customer engagement. Your account team should actively educate customers about the survey process and outcomes. To encourage open and honest responses.
- Measure Holistically – You can only gain an accurate understanding of your customer relationships through quantitative and qualitative analyses. Quantitative analysis provides a high-level overview of where the account stands, while qualitative analysis sheds light on the “why”.
- Focus on the Most Urgent Accounts – Use engagement survey results to identify your at-risk accounts and prioritize those that need immediate action.
- Activate the Account Team – Armed with results of the quantitative and qualitative analyses, account team members can build strategies aimed at supporting engagement and generating customer impact.
- Put Customers First – If companies want to become trusted advisors and partners, they must put their customers at the core of their business strategy. Above that of incentives and goals which prevent team members working together for the customers benefit and forces competitiveness.
Good luck with increasing your customer engagement. I will be waiting see to see what my vendors do & looking for ways to engage more with my customers.
Link to Gallup’s home page and a compilation of articles and research on the topic of B2B customer engagement:
Image credit: INSEAD Knowledge