Our Head of Experience shares his three steps to success when it comes to creating a better B2B digital experience.
This article was originally published on Marketing Week.
As we look ahead to the rest of 2022, it's undeniable that great opportunities await those bold enough to think digitally. But it’s also starting to feel like many in B2B are getting distracted by shiny new digital toys and focusing on the wrong priorities. Instead, they should be thinking about how these new experiences can enhance existing processes and truly satisfy customer needs.
1. Be aligned
Having your organisation aligned is key to any successful customer experience initiative. Often large, multinational organisations are too disconnected to implement serious CX improvements, despite their best efforts. Failings often arise because the job is left to one department. This leads to no clear measurement goals or a mismatch of priorities between different parts of the organisation.
Without the right alignment to the overarching business objectives, initiatives can lack purpose and look at odds with the direction of the business. There is often an impression that CX is just about giving the customer everything they ask for, without the interests of the business taken into account. Therefore, without buy-in from all the teams, there will be limited organisational change and the effectiveness of projects can be limited. This is due to where the political power sits within an organisation, and projects can be derailed because budgets have been prioritised elsewhere.
Alignment is also crucial when it comes to measuring success. B2B companies often have smaller audiences, so views, click-throughs and leads are not always a definitive indicator of digital success. Lead quality can often be more important than the quantity of clicks. While it’s easy to drive more traffic, if it’s the wrong kind of traffic you could effectively be increasing costs and reducing revenue, by spreading your sales team too thinly.
Often large, multinational organisations are too disconnected to implement serious CX improvements, despite their best efforts. Failings often arise because the job is left to one department.
To be truly meaningful, CX goals must tie back to business priorities and be measured on the effectiveness and contribution to those goals. This means the wider business has to be on board to avoid measurement being done in isolation.
Personally, I like to focus on how to get ROI out of a digital platform. By looking at the effects small moves have on tangible earnings, we can see how digital initiatives are contributing to revenue and profit beyond the simple metrics of views and clicks, and this enables us to measure success against core business goals.
2. Make small moves
Another key mistake that organisations often make when it comes to CX is trying to do everything at once. This can often lead to wasted investment and, with the constant evolution of digital technology, it can be difficult to keep pace with this kind of approach.
It’s important to move to a culture of ‘always on’ improvements, with initiatives that can be implemented immediately alongside longer-term transformational projects. By consistently making small improvements and gathering data and feedback as you go, it will be far easier to see results and incorporate new strategies as you learn what works and what doesn’t.
This approach also helps B2B organisations to get the basics right. Many of our clients have already built very successful, million- (sometimes billion-) pound B2B companies with old-school sales calls, faxes and face-to-face meetings. These same companies are now faced with the daunting prospect of getting to grips with new technology, upskilling teams and filling new roles. With an incremental approach to customer experience, organisational change and evolution can happen alongside it, resulting in advancements for the company as a whole.
3. Involve your customers
This point may sound obvious but customer experience isn’t really customer experience if you are not prepared to talk to customers.
It’s surprising the number of businesses I’ve spoken to that are afraid of disturbing their customers because they’re busy or overwhelmed. This means so many projects are based on assumptions and hearsay, resulting in expensive programmes that don’t address actual customer pain points, but instead focus on workarounds for organisational inefficiencies.
I’ve seen customer portals designed and built at the cost of millions only to have no one use the platform. This was because no one thought to ask their customers if they’d actually find it useful. I also saw self-service systems celebrated internally as a massive success for being delivered on time. However, they remain unused because the product team building it didn’t need to worry about marketing it or making anyone aware of it.
That’s why I believe in working together with key stakeholders to help educate them on what ‘going digital’ really entails.
This means explaining the importance of talking to customers before making assumptions about their requirements, finding out about their needs, their pain points, and considering what’s really required to address those needs. Are they really asking for a new product? Do they really want you to create another platform for them to visit? Or could a couple of small fixes in a larger process be the key to longer-term growth?
We still have lots to learn
Much of the rush to be more digitally savvy has been driven by massive leaps in consumer experience, with both personal and business expectations set at an all-time high. Today, we can order a £5 burger on our phones, and follow its delivery journey to the nearest metre. So, we should also be able to check-in and track the status of multimillion-pound supply orders just as easily.
B2B is no longer an excuse for a poor experience. We are exposed daily to amazing B2C digital experiences that we can learn from. These B2C experiences elevate customer expectations so much that B2B experiences can often feel underwhelming. Although B2B engagements often involve more stakeholders and touchpoints (making them a little more complicated) we still need to raise the bar, or risk falling even further behind.
To harness the opportunities in this brave new B2B world, organisations need to think strategically, and start small; to take a pause to evaluate which opportunities add real value to existing experiences, and how they can be enhanced and improved with digital.
That’s what we do at The Marketing Practice. We create a roadmap of small moves that continuously improves our clients’ interactions with customers and allows us to test, learn and improve what we deliver. This approach helps drive more sustainable revenue and achieve more than simply buying into the ‘next big thing’.
Before I go, here are a few starter questions that can have a big impact on how you approach CX:
Where are the main gaps in your customer experience? Where can you make the most impact?
How will you know what you are doing is having a positive impact?
Going digital is an organisational journey. It’s so much more than simply putting in some new tech. How will you get your organisation to embrace it?