Join The Customer-Centric Movement Or Get Left Behind
Not long ago, customer-centricity was considered a sole domain of retail and e-commerce businesses. Sales and marketing were critical for B2B business, but customer-centricity was optional. This has changed in the last few years. With buyers emphasizing customer experience and companies focused on organic product-driven growth, there is a renewed emphasis on customer-centricity in B2B companies. Customer-centricity encourages a culture of respect and interaction with the customer. It ensures a better customer experience, which in turn boosts customer satisfaction.
And yet, today there’s a serious disconnect between customer expectations, which have grown from 4% to 88% in the last seven years, and the average CX (customer experience) score for B2B companies, which is below 50%. What’s more, according to Accenture Interactive, 44% of B2B buyers switched sellers in the past 12 months.
Clearly, customer-centricity isn’t evolving fast enough. It’s time for B2B companies to put their customer-centric agendas into overdrive. We need a revolution, and it needs to come from the top.
CEOs Can Tap Into Customer Insight
When Michael E. Porter and Nitin Nohria concluded their 12-year study of CEO time management, they found (to most CEOs’ dismay) that, on average, we’re spending just 3% of our time listening to customers.
No one knows better that customers bring so much insight and experience to the table. The problem is time. It’s finite, and we’re spread too thin.
On any given day, we’re dealing with internal, external, operational, and organizational issues. We have to engage with investors, board members, employees, government/regulatory bodies, and media and community leaders. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for customers.
Even CEOs dedicated to customer-centricity acknowledge they can only meet a handful of customers a month. With Covid-19 concerns, traveling to meet face-to-face with customers is even more difficult. While time and logistics work against CEOs ever engaging large numbers of customers, we can tap into customer thoughts, insights, and opinions and set the tone for a customer-centric culture by working through our customer-facing employees:
• Turn To Product Teams: They spend a lot of time talking with customers, and they do so with a more customer-focused agenda. They want to know what customers think, what they are doing, and what they believe they want. Unlike sales reps, product teams aren’t trying to upsell or cross-sell or push renewals. They just gather feedback.
• Customer Success Teams: These teams also spend a lot of time with customers, often dealing with problems and negative feedback. The customer pushback they receive can also tell you a lot.
• The Sales Force: They talk to customers and can provide insight into the market, what customers are saying they want/need, and their perceptions of products or services. But because buyers understand that reps have an agenda, they tend to be more cautious about what they say.
Leverage Technology To Unlock The Voice Of The Customer
Thanks to advances in conferencing technology, there are no barriers to listening to customers. Video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet, can capture and save conference calls, panel discussions, events, and one-on-one discussions. CEOs can follow up and listen to these customer conversations any time — without having to coordinate with anyone’s schedule.
But rather than pouring through hours of data, CEOs can unlock the full potential of these interviews, support feedback and sales calls with repository software. They can transform raw audio or video data into searchable files that can even be annotated and shared across the company.
Customer feedback just became even more valuable.
Start Driving A Customer-Centric Culture Today
When you lead by example, you go a long way toward creating a customer-centric culture. Help your employees provide good customer interaction and collect useful feedback:
• Empower Employees: Encourage them to take the initiative to reach out to customers.
• Train Them To Actively Listen: They need to converse without interrupting and support the customer even when the feedback is negative.
• Act-On Feedback: There’s a saying in business: Culture eats strategy for breakfast. In other words, you can strategize on how to collect feedback, but a culture of customer centricity drives employees to respond to feedback, solve real problems, and go the extra mile.
• Stress The Need To Be Real: Be honest with customers, especially when the feedback is negative. Acknowledge any mistake or issue, fix it, provide updates on progress and deliver results.
Building a customer-centric culture is good for business. It enables better targeting, market insight, lower churn rates, and increased sales. Most of all, it’s the right thing to do for your customers. And with the help of customer-facing employees and new technology, CEOs can keep their fingers on the customer’s pulse.
– Prayag Narula, Co-Founder & CEO of Marvin
Original content here.
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