Logo site
Logo site

Search on Marketorium.media Blog

Search on Marketorium.media Blog

Making B2B Customer Experience Non-Negotiable

The C-suite needs to understand why great B2B customer experience is now non-negotiable, says Carlos Hidalgo.

Carlos Hidalgo always hears it – B2B executives questioning the need to invest in customer experience. They say delivering a great customer experience (CX) would be nice. But what impact will it have on the bottom line?

Hidalgo, a US-based adviser, author, and speaker who has worked with B2B companies for over two decades says he usually hears this from frustrated marketers, but it could be from anyone in B2B. “I can’t get my executives to invest in a customer experience program or initiative,” they tell him. “How do we make CX count?”

Hidalgo says you need to start speaking the only language those executives understand. You must prove that good CX improves revenue growth and cuts business costs.

He points to a study in Harvard Business Review that shows a subscription-based business with the highest CX score is likely to retain members for six years longer than one with a lower CX score. It also found businesses offering great experiences have lower customer service costs. “Unhappy customers are expensive,” the researchers wrote.

“By 2020, price and product will be secondary to customer experience.”

Hidalgo says that seeking great CX is now non-negotiable for B2Cs and B2Bs. He cites ample international research showing how three out of four customers expect a good experience when interacting with brands. One study from the Temkin Group shows that 86 percent of customers with a great experience are likely to repurchase.

“We have to acknowledge on the B2B side that customer experience is taking center stage,” Hidalgo told the audience at the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum 2018 in Sydney. “When your CEO, CFO, or CCO says: ‘Why are we going to invest in this?’ Pull out that stat from the Temkin Group group and say, ‘This is what we need to do’. By 2020, price and product will be secondary to customer experience.”

Hidalgo says deciding to prioritize CX is only part of the battle. Marketers now have little control over how and when prospective B2B customers interact with their brands, which makes every potential interaction important.

“Let me assure you: your customers start to engage with you long before there is a trigger event where they have to buy something,” he says. “They are engaging with your brand and some of your content before you know it.

“If we don’t make our brand welcoming and delight our customers with our brand content, the chances of us getting to be part of the audience they engage with when they’re in a buying cycle is doing to drop significantly.”

Hidalgo, who wrote one of the most influential books on demand generation, Driving Demand, says CX doesn’t have a beginning or end point. “We have to dispel this myth that buyer interaction is when they buy something or [it’s about] demand gen … it happens way before the buying process even begins.”

Another myth Hidalgo wants to shatter is that customer experience is the same as customer service. “Traditional thinking is that all we need to do is provide great service; that we have to deliver to the customers’ expectations,” he says. “However, that’s not true. You can provide great service and still lose.

“What you have to provide is customer improvement. How do we improve your business by working with my brand, working with our product, or buying our service?” Hidalgo says that customers will be much less likely to consider a competitor’s product or service at contract renewal time if they do that.

The path to CX’s success

Hidalgo says there are many steps businesses need to make before embarking on a CX-led culture change.

The first thing businesses must do is measure their maturity levels – are they ready to deliver great customer experience, or are they just paying lip service to it? “One of the best ways to do that is to ask your customers,” he says. “Be ready to hear your baby is pretty ugly.”

It’s also essential for B2B businesses to pay close attention to the customer journey – who is using your product or service? “Just because we sell to one person,” Hidalgo says, “doesn’t mean that’s the individual using our product.”

Businesses must also embrace the digital transformation their customers bring to their doorstep. “If we fight it, if we want to be disruptive, it won’t work,” he says.

Hidalgo believes employees play a crucial role in developing a company’s CX mindset. He says they need to be enabled, equipped, and empowered to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

“It’s going to be impossible for you to deliver CX if every employee in your company doesn’t understand your brand promise or mission,” Hidalgo says. “How can you determine the experience you will deliver to your customers? You don’t even know if that’s what your customers want. We have to ensure it’s embedded in the DNA of our employees because that’s where CX starts.”

He says businesses must give employees the right tools and culture to deliver great CX and the faith they will do it well. And when they do succeed, they must be rewarded. “Encourage your employees to act on your customer’s behalf,” he says.