The vast majority (86%) of B2B marketers and executives see customer experience (CX) as extremely critical to an organization’s growth, and almost 6 in 10 report being highly focused on CX, according to a new study [download page] conducted by Regalix. While that might be the case, there are certain customer areas that appear in need of improvement.
Indeed, only one-quarter of respondents indicated that they have an excellent understanding of customers’ channel preferences, and just 4 in 10 are confident in their understanding of their customers’ wants, needs, likes and interests. And while 8 in 10 feel that they have an excellent understanding of which of their customers are the most valuable, fewer (64%) share that understanding of their customers’ past purchase behavior.
The study also demonstrates that CX efforts aren’t being well understood by employees. For example, while 51% of respondents report that their company has a clearly defined set of target customer segments, only 21% say that employees across the company share a consistent and vivid image of target customers. Incentives might help, but they’re few and far between, as just 1 in 5 respondents noted that employees across the company are recognized and rewarded for improving the customer experience.
In addition, as the analysts point out, CX programs can’t thrive without well-defined branding, which companies also report lacking. In fact, only 23% say that the attributes of their company’s brand are well defined. Not surprisingly, then, even fewer (16%) say that their company’s brand drives how they design customer experiences.
Interestingly, with B2B buying increasingly resembling B2C practices, a majority of marketers identified B2C brands such as Apple and Amazon as having the best customer experience. Talk of the “consumerization” of B2B buying mostly centers around online rather than offline commerce, and as a result improving online CX is a priority to far more marketers (91%) than improving cross-channel (46%), call center (32%) or phone self-service (18%) CX, among others.
As for the tactics that B2B execs are using to better understand their customers’ expectations, the study notes that:
- 62% employ feedback tools such as annual relationship surveys;
- 57% conduct voice of customer studies;
- 52% use customer journey maps to better understand their clients’ needs; and
- 52% monitor social media sites.
While the majority of respondents are using these tactics to obtain feedback, the real opportunity lies in the integration of this feedback with product development, which 91% of respondents feel is a critical factor for providing superior CX. Other factors noted as key to superior CX included the integration of customer behavioral data (65%), rise of customer experience training (57%) and predictive anticipatory customer service (52%).
There are, of course, many internal obstacles to improving CX. Some of those noted in the study are:
- Lack of clear CX strategy (62%);
- Lack of CX management processes (55%);
- Lack of budget (48%); and
- Lack of customer-centric culture (41%).
- 49% of respondents have an executive in charge of improving CX.
- Respondents perceive a range of benefits from improving CX, ranging from enhanced customer loyalty (80%) and advocacy and positive word-of-mouth (80%) to increases in sales (60%) and revenues (57%).
- B2B companies are most likely to be measuring the effectiveness of their CX programs through metrics such as customer retention (80%), sales (65%), customer acquisition (60%) and leads generated (55%). In light of the perceived benefits of improved CX, surprisingly few are looking at customer churn rate (45%), repeat sales (45%) and referrals (35%).
- 1 in 5 respondents rate the consistency of their online and offline CX as “very consistent.”
- Some 16% feel that their customers’ overall experience with their brands are excellent, with another 44% seeing them as good and 38% as satisfactory.
- More than 6 in 10 will increase their CX budgets over the next 12 months. Only 1 in 10 will cut their CX budgets.
About the Data: The data is based on an online survey conducted from 9/3/2014-9/19/2014 among 284 senior marketing executives, practitioners and business leaders. 72% are from North America, with the rest from APAC, EMEA and rest of the world. 44% of respondents come from companies with $10-100 million in revenues; 21% from companies with $100-500 million in revenues; and 35% from companies with at least $1 billion in revenues.