According to research, Customer Experience in B2B is even lower than that in bottom rung B2C companies. This might be counter-intuitive to some thinking that B2B works more on account management and hence is more engaged with its customers. But if you dig deeper you would find several reasons that contribute to the lower Customer Experience in spite of the account focus and relationship management in these firms.
- Account management is only a part of Customer’s life-cycle with the organizations. There are so many touch-points which are beyond the purview of an account manager, which contribute to a customer’s experience.
- Presence of several stakeholders within one account complicates the delivery of uniform experience as all of them have varied interests and expectations.
- Intermediaries like reseller and agents brings in touch-points that are not always under direct control of an organization.
- Account Management in itself is a roadblock to good Customer Experience. Before you get on me for this one, let me explain my point. Firstly, account manager works as one point of contact for everything. What if s/he is not available or leaves? Most companies struggle to have a backup in line who is equally aware of the account. Secondly, account manager spends so much time on issues which are not really related to adding value and growing the account. Half of the things are not even in his/her KPI.
Although the Experience scores are low, there is very little acceptance of Customer Experience Management(CEM) in B2B. Some of the reasons -
- B2B companies argue that CEM is for B2C companies. But they forget that word of mouth is important in B2B as well and that a superior Customer Experience will lead to a positive word of mouth. 78% of purchase decisions in B2B and B2c both are based on references from friends and family.
- There is also a reluctance to invest time and resources on such projects in these organizations. Since each customer brings in considerable value, they are not able/ready to divert account managers working on these accounts to take part in CEM process. Organizations fail to realize that once they streamline the process to manage touch-points better, these account managers will have more time to work on customer relations rather than fire fighting with issues on daily basis.
- In a B2B setup, customers buy for organizations, not for themselves. So they have to convince someone up the ladder of their decisions. And this makes the whole buying process more rational. Hence, this is what vendors focus on as well. They believe that if they would fulfill their customer’s need and design a solution which is robust, works well and is competitively priced – they would be able to close the sale. So the whole transaction lacks emotion and experience. To some extent this is right, but at the end of the day people making decisions are human and everyone likes a good experience. Good solution topped with exceptional experience would help in creating trust, building stronger relations and shorten the sales cycle.
It is just a matter of time before B2B organizations would open to managing Customer Experience. And the ones who would adopt CEM as a discipline before others would definitely have an edge.