Customer Experience is the New Competitive Battleground in B2B

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One of the most widely-discussed topics in marketing circles over the past few years has been the growing importance of providing outstanding customer experiences and managing customer experiences effectively. Forrester Research says that businesses of all kinds are now operating in the “age of the customer” and that this new competitive environment places new demands on company leaders, particularly marketers.

There’s a growing recognition among marketing thought leaders and practitioners that customer experience is quickly becoming a new basis of competition for B2B companies and a primary driver of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Recent research by Gartner found that 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience by 2016.
  • In the 2015 Digital Trends report by Econsultancy and Adobe, 22% of surveyed business professionals said that customer experience represents the single most exciting opportunity this year, up from 20% in the 2014 edition of the survey.
We’re also beginning to see evidence that providing great customer experiences contributes to superior financial performance. For example, in its 2014 Customer Experience ROI Study, Watermark Consulting found that from 2007 through 2013, customer experience leaders generated a total return that was 26 percentage points higher than the S&P 500 Index (77.7% vs. 51.5%). Over the same period, customer experience laggards posted a negative total return of -2.5%.
A recent survey by Regalix Research provides additional important insights regarding the state of customer experience management in B2B companies. The Regalix survey clearly revealed that B2B marketers recognize the importance of effective customer experience management. Eighty-six percent of survey respondents said that delivering superior customer experiences is extremely critical to their company’s growth, and 81% said that providing good customer experiences is a strategic priority. 
Respondents also recognized, however, that they have more work to do to achieve their customer experience goals. Only 58% said that their company’s approach to customer experience management is “highly focused.”
The marketers surveyed by Regalix also identified several challenges to effective customer experience management. For example:
  • Only 23% of the respondents said that the attributes of their company’s brand are well defined.
  • Only 28% said that employees across their organization fully understood the key attributes of their company’s brand.
  • Only 21% said that the quality of interactions with target customers is closely monitored.
Effective customer experience management requires the involvement of virtually every business function in a company. However, I suggest that marketing is the most appropriate function to take the lead in a company’s customer experience management efforts.

3 COMMENTS

  1. You had me going until your last line! While the CMO (or marketing function) is a popular place to house CE leadership, I can make an equally strong case for it being the COO or CCO or even CEO. Seems to me the old adage “form follows function” might be in order in this discussion. For me that means, starting with the strategic goal of making CE a high-priority organizational competence and practice deeply imbedded in the culture. Then, figure out the organizational function best suited to lead that charge. Ask the CEO or President of the most renowned customer-centric organizations in the world (both B2B and B2C) who in their organization is in charge of CE. My prediction is it will not be their marketing department.

  2. I’m in agreement with Chip. B2B customer experiences are the direct responsibility of every level, every function, and every location across the enterprise. Also, I’d challenge whether B2B customer experience is the “new competitive battleground.” Those of us in the consulting arena have certainly understood this for some time, as have most of our B2B product and service clients: http://beyondphilosophy.com/business-business-customer-advocacy-real-possibility-real-oxymoron/

  3. I am not sure I comfortable with the suggestion that CX is the ‘new’ battleground in B2B – I believe it always has been – without B2B organisations being consciously aware of it. From my experience, organisations in the B2B space are significantly further behind in their adoption of CX related methodologies and principles than traditional B2C businesses – the Pharmaceutical industry being a classic example. The fact that more and more B2Bs are waking up to the importance of CX is a great thing – the battle is to see who adapts their traditional account management experiences best to meet the needs of customers in 2015 and beyond.

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