This CX Mini Masterclass provides an overview of what makes experience management unique for organizations in the business to business space. Show host and customer experience expert, Julia Ahlfeldt, explains the fundamentals of B2B CX, how this differs from B2C experience management and what approaches are applicable to both. If you are keen for a snappy summary of B2B CX, then this episode is for you.
A growing focus on B2B CX
Episode 49 covered how the field of CX is growing and evolving, specifically with regards to the evolution of customer success teams and the role that these teams play in customer experience. The rise of the Customer Success function is rooted in the unique needs of CX within the B2B world, which is an important topic in and of itself.
It’s generally accepted that CX gained traction in the B2C world first, but as B2B companies start focusing on customer experience, we need to understand how customer experience management might differ within this context.
Key differences and considerations
The core fundamental of CX management are 90-95% the same whether you are talking about B2C or B2B, save for a couple of differences. These differences are also the basis of key considerations for how to manage B2B CX:
- The customer is not an individual, but rather a community of stakeholders – The biggest difference is that in the B2B space, companies aren’t dealing with an individual as their customer, but rather a group of stakeholders within the customer’s organization. To effectively manage the relationship, supplier organizations need to understand the wants, needs and drivers of all of their key customer stakeholders, recognizing that these will probably differ from individual to individual. Be wary of an over-emphasis on the needs of the customer’s decision-maker (e.g. the CEO). This person might be key for sign-off at the time of customer acquisition, but they might be removed from the relationship for the rest of the enterprise-level journey. Other stakeholders could become influential voices in re-purchase decisions. So it’s worth the time and effort to do a little stakeholder mapping on B2B customers.
- Fewer, but more complex, relationships – While B2B customer relationships might be more high maintenance given the number of stakeholders, the good news is that most B2B business models have a smaller customer base. These relationships are also likely to be deeper and more complex, hence the rise of Customer Success teams to help manage these relationships. If your customer base runs in the hundreds or thousands, not millions, it will change the way that you define experiences, communicate with your customers and solicit feedback. What works in the B2C world, might not be applicable in B2B, but the depth of the relationship opens up a new world of possibilities for experience management.
- B2B customer organizations are ultimately serving another customer, so pressures move backwards through the value chain – In B2C CX, the buck stops with the consumer. In the B2B world, enterprise product and service providers need to understand the wants and needs of the end consumer, as well as how these play out in terms of supporting B2B customers to deliver experiences to their customers. Whatever their customers want will inform what they ask of their suppliers.
Leveraging best practices from B2C
What learnings can CX practitioners leverage from the world of B2C CX? The short answer is pretty much everything, as long as the approach is tweaked for the context of the 3 key differences mentioned above. Beyond that, it’s generally good practice to treat individual B2B customer stakeholders in the same way that a brand would treat any end consumer. B2B stakeholders are consumers in their own right. We know that consumer expectations are on the rise, and individual stakeholders within a business are unlikely to check these expectations at the parking lot when they go into work. If you want to deliver a great B2B customer experience, this starts with the individual experience for each of your stakeholders.
Want to keep learning about CX?
If you’d like to checkout more of these CX Mini Masterclasses or listen to my longer format CX expert interviews, check out the full listing of episodes for this CX podcast.
And if you are looking to super-charge your CX skills and continue learning, be sure to check out CX University. They have a great array of CXPA accredited training resources available on a flexible monthly subscription plan. Use the code PODCAST10 to get 10% off your first month’s subscription and support this podcast.
Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business achieve its CX goals, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services (including B2B CX strategy) or get in touch via email.