Is Customer Experience the Key to B2B Differentiation? Yes, the SERVICE Experience

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For years we’ve seen many surveys finding that Customer Experience (CX) is a top priority and the key to differentiation. To the point that it’s become a mantra, accepted without question.

Unfortunately, “CX” is used so broadly that it’s not clear whether it means customer service, the end-to-end customer journey, or even the, um, product that’s part of a complete experience.

So, is CX really the key to differentiation for B2B firms? Or does the ‘product’ remain supreme? That’s one of the big questions that I hoped to answer in a B2B CX study I worked on for GetFeedback.

The data was exceptional: Of the 340 B2B respondents, 85% reported CX initiatives, and nearly 200 had been active for at least two years. Furthermore, 90% of survey takers were directly involved with CX initiatives as part of CX teams, sponsors, or users.

Here’s the bottom line to those wondering if the “solution” (product or service) is still critical for B2B firms. Yes!

But, that’s not enough to differentiate. Here’s the conclusion from GetFeedbacks’ “The State of B2B Customer Experience Report”:

Most companies are already working on making their solutions or products more competitive. Therefore, to differentiate on CX, it requires something more. Three of four Leaders (75%) selected service as a top priority versus just 56% for Laggards. This tells us that investing in customer service improvements is where successful CX Leaders appear to be getting an edge.

The study found no difference in priorities between Leaders and Laggards for the buying or solution part of the customer journey. (Leaders were those that had been able to increase customer satisfaction in the past year.) But for the service experience, we found a huge gap.

Put another way, B2B firms are attempting to differentiate by strengthening the service experience in addition to — not as a substitute for — a strong solution. Indeed, two of three B2B firms said the solution is a top priority for CX improvement, and 76% said the solution had a major impact on customer loyalty – significantly higher than buying or service experiences.

And that’s not all. The study also found a truly stunning difference in how resources are allocated between Leaders and Laggards. While the size of CX teams varied based on company size, Leaders were much more likely to have at least one person assigned to the CX role.

I was shocked to find that 42% of all respondents did not claim even one part-time person taking ownership for CX activities. Resources turned out to be one of the biggest “explainers” of Leader/Laggard differences. To be blunt: you’re not likely to get value from a CX program if you don’t assign someone the job!

There’s lots more about B2B Voice of Customer programs and ROI, which you can get by downloading the full report (free registration required).

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