Cultivating Behavior By Making an Emotional Connection With All Customers – Yes, Including B2B!!

5
332 views

Share on LinkedIn

Many of us who actively conduct research in, write about, and consult our clients on how to optimize drivers of customer advocacy behavior believe that creating a personal and emotional connection with customers is essential. It certainly is a subject of continuing discussion, and even debate; but its importance can no longer be denied or dismissed. As a 2011 Peppers & Rogers customer advocacy white paper stated so well: “Advocates work on a company’s behalf to promote the brand, enhance its reputation, and in some cases, drive new business. They are also valuable customers themselves, buying more and being less price conscious than other customers. And, most important, they connect with the company on a deep emotional level, which in itself is the best differentiator there is.”

The most valuable customers appreciate and want more personalization, a relationship, and an emotional connection. It’s up to organizations to a) identify the strongest emotional drivers and b) effectively leverage them. Successful organizations have either morphed, or have begun, by placing customers’ interests ahead of the enterprise’s. They build a ‘bank account’ of trust; and high trust, and the positive reptutation and image it breeds, is an enduring strategic advantage, a definite competitive differentiator.

In every business sector, customers call the shots on what they want, and don’t want, in a relationship journey. In the banking industry, for example, most studies show that competitive fees, product availability, staff service, and branch hours are all pretty much basic value deliverables. Transparency in communication and dealings, and personalized proaction, however, are in much shorter supply; and these characteristics are markers for banks which create high customer advocacy levels.

Traditionally more product-centric than customer-centric, B2B companies have more slowly come to an understanding of how customers ‘own’ the relationship compared to their B2C counterparts. But, they have increasingly become aware that customer relationships must become more human, more personal, and produce greater relevancy. In short, B2B comapnies have to communicate and represent what their customers are interested in – at that moment. Personalization is the way to get there.

Extensive research into numerous B2B sectors has repeatedly shown that even with the tighter decision parameters such as pricing, and regulations and vendor qualification that may exist in business-to business products and services, much of what drives initial and ongoing supplier choice is built around brand impression and peer-to-peer informal communication.

What creates and sustains top-end loyalty and continued relationship is, of course, excellent performance on “table stakes” tangible, basic value elements. Delivering at promised levels on pricing, completeness, accuracy, timeliness, reliability, and consistency are minimum standards for building a foundation level of trust and helping to build the supplier-customer relationship. Proactive, personalized service that exceeds expectations, two-way communication, and engagement help bond the customer to the supplier. This is true throughout the customer life cycle, from initial supplier selection and purchase through cross-sell, up-sell, and advocacy behavior.

Customer advocacy is very much alive and well in business-to-business products and services. Multiple studies, and successful application, demonstrate that word-of-mouth and brand reputation are essential decision-making levers. If anything, due to the more critical nature of touch points, performance, brand perception, and relationships in B2B, advocacy may well be considerably more important in this arena than in the business-to-consumer world.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Michael,

    I enjoyed this post and actually just revisited this topic myself: http://www.peoplemetrics.com/blog/three-key-elements-of-an-engaging-client-experience/

    Our own research has shown that emotional elements actually come in to play EARLIER in B2B relationships and I think your summary statement captures the reason why that is perfectly – the more critical nature of touch points, brand perception, and relationships in B2B that tend to last years over minutes.

    Business is personal and a great customer experience is one that connects emotionally.

  2. Janessa –

    Read your customer experience blog with a great deal of interest. You’re focused on emotional drivers of customer experience. I’m focused on both tangible and emotional drivers of customer relationship, from a strategic and monetizing downstream behavior perspective, particularly in customer advocacy and customer bonding (outside-in customer behavior, and inside-out levers – employees, processes, culture, etc.).

    There are definite points of inflection between what PeopleMetrics and Relational Capital Group are doing for clients; and, especially since we are both in the Philadelphia area, it might be worth getting together to see where we might open up some dialogue and perhaps collaborate. Some of your key execs are familiar to me

    Please advise. Regards.

    Michael Lowenstein, Ph.D., CMC
    Chief Research Officer
    The Relational Capital Group

  3. Janessa –

    In reviewing your content, there are many areas where our thinking, and research experience, appear to conjoin. I thought you might be interested in several other related CustomerThink blogs, where what the research approaches and areas of focus discussed are at the intersection of what PeopleMetrics does in culture, employee behavior, and customer experience performance evaluation:

    http://www.customerthink.com/article/linking_employee_behavior_to_customer_loyalty_advocacy

    http://www.customerthink.com/blog/customer_complaints_learn_the_real_value_of_getting_the_whole_picture

    http://www.customerthink.com/blog/creating_advocacy_and_building_relationships_throughout_the_customer_journey_branding_the_exper

    http://www.customerthink.com/blog/the_new_real_world_dynamics_of_brand_and_customer_decision_making_behavior

    http://www.customerthink.com/blog/after_thousands_of_years_are_we_there_yet_the_effect_of_trust_and_offlineonline_social_media_in

    http://www.customerthink.com/blog/customer_centricity_vs_customer_friendliness_vs_product_centricity

    Again, I’d suggest setting up a meeting to further explore these synergies. Please advise. If preferred, you can reach me directly at [email protected]. Regards.

    Michael

  4. Janessa –

    If you send an email to the address provided, I can reply with some specific employee ambassadorship research content which could, prospectively, be useful for you and PeopleMetrics. Regards.

    Michael

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here