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Customer Centricity Is the Key to Success

B2B companies can no longer compete on price alone. Every customer has unique needs and wants a product or service that addresses their specific challenges and growth opportunities. Customer journey experience is no longer just a point of differentiation; it’s table stakes. It requires that companies put the customer first and at the center of everything they do as a business - including sales, marketing, product development, supply chain, customer service, and every other stage in the customer journey. Make 2020 your year to excel at customer experience by developing a customer-centric culture in your organization.

Challenges to Building a Culture of Customer Centricity

Customers today presume companies will be responsive 24/7. In addition, they want personalized sales offerings at a reasonable price, with exceptional service and seamless interactions across every touchpoint they have with you (e.g. post-sale implementation and onboarding, upselling, and renewing their business). Demands have never been higher! In fact, 80 percent of customers say the experience is just as important as the company’s product or service. Technology drives these expectations, yet also arouses concern among customers over how much companies know about themselves. In the era of frequent data breaches, customers rely on companies to protect their data and establish guidelines for responsible use of their personal information. B2B companies today have quite a bit to think about.

To meet these demands, businesses need to be this close to their customers to adapt operations and provide a positive and consistent experience. Companies today are overwhelmed by what information to gather, how to securely store it, and then how to use the data to improve the customer experience. To embrace a customer-first culture, businesses need to invest in operational systems and technologies that collect and implement insights on customer behaviors, preferences, market trends, product and service utilization, and numerous other data points. Data management is a big undertaking – who does this responsibility fall to within your company?

The answer is everyone. Each strata within every department at your company has the knowledge and understanding of how their work relates to customer success. This networked thinking connects colleagues to work collaboratively to meet the needs and wants of the customer. Hiring talent with the right blend of hard and soft skills like this can be a challenge. Companies need employees who are skilled in the systems and technologies used in managing and tracking customer activity which can be difficult to find because industry demand is so high. In regards to soft skills, customer-centric companies want to employ leaders and professionals with empathy, which is key to understanding and appropriately responding to the customer’s needs. A recent report from PwC notes that only 38 percent of consumers say the employee they interact with understands their needs.

Aligning customer interactions within every department at your company can be both costly and time-consuming, especially when those interactions can happen on any channel at any time. Investment in customer data collection and analysis provides valuable feedback that helps you provide a better, more customized experience. This is sure to strengthen relationships with current customers as well as attract new customers and in turn, boosting your bottom line. Most B2B companies today provide phone, email, SMS, and chat support in addition to in-person interactions, but these access points can’t be limited to marketing and customer service. Licensing and training for email platforms, chat software and other such customer engagement platforms can be an obstacle for some B2B companies, but the investment will come back in the form of improved customer satisfaction and increased revenue.

The Benefits of Embracing A Customer-First Mindset

Customer centricity done right not only strengthens customer loyalty, but it also increases employee engagement and creates efficiencies.

If B2B companies tie revenue goals to strategies that require all departments to work together, employees can then better understand how their role directly influences customer success and real business outcomes. Revamping your strategic plans to connect employee compensation with your customer-centric culture can be a highly effective way to marry each employee to your customer-first philosophy. As your employees strive to achieve their individual and departmental goals, they are dependent upon one another to do their job. Collaboration across teams happens naturally as employees strategize on how to optimize customer data, solve product problems, and address customer concerns.

This enhanced collaboration helps companies better anticipate customer needs by heading off problems before they even arise. Thanks to the real-time customer feedback you collect, you can pivot strategies and modify products and services to better respond to customer needs and desires, improving their experience.

There can be major efficiency gains for B2B companies that invest in technological systems and software to automate steps along the customer journey. Many B2B buyers even seek out innovative companies when making purchasing decisions; in fact, a whopping 66 percent prefer to do business with tech-forward companies! From social media to cloud-based software, artificial intelligence, voice-activated assistants, and chatbots, companies trust technology to assist in tracking customer data in order to deliver more value. This is evidenced by the explosive growth of the CRM market, which has contributed to more successful customer relationships from end to end.

Ninety-five percent of customers say they’re more likely to be loyal to a company they trust. That’s a staggering amount, and also seems quite simple - earn the trust of the customer and your bottom line will benefit. How exactly then can B2B companies build trust with customers?

It begins with defining what a positive experience is for the customer by listening to them. Processing customer data and feedback to make the necessary improvements to products, services, and experiences show customers that someone cares about them, as well as demonstrates a commitment to excellence in craft. Customers want to work with companies that strive to be the best.

As customer expectations continue to grow, this shift will better position your company to close more sales, increase revenue, and enhance customer loyalty. Remember, it costs far less money to keep the customers you have than it does to secure new ones. What’s good for the customer is good for the company – start making the transition to a customer-centric culture today with the help of ServiceSource.

B2B companies can no longer compete on price alone. Every customer has unique needs and wants a product or service that addresses their specific challenges and growth opportunities. […]

Steve Hastert

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Steve Hastert