B2Bs: How to get your customer-centric approach right

Lead Forensics, Tuesday 31 May 2016

A diagram showing arrows pointing inwards, with Customer written at the centreCustomer engagement scores – should you be bothered if you’re not up there with the best? You wouldn’t be alone. According to a Gallup report, 71% of B2B customers are not engaged with their provider. And while businesses may wish for strong engagement, if they’re not achieving it, it’s no big deal, right?

Wrong! B2Bs with high customer engagement scores achieve 50% higher sales and are 34% more profitable. So those B2Bs who are missing the mark are also missing out on a huge (and potentially very lucrative) opportunity. 

On the blog we recently looked at ‘smarketing’ and the effect that having sales, marketing and customer services teams working closely together can have on business. This joined up approach is no longer just a ‘nice to have’ it’s a ‘need to have’, as providing a strong customer experience is crucial for today’s savvy buyers.

 

Here, we take it a step further and focus on the practical side of things, offering you top tips for nailing a more customer-centric approach. 

What is a customer-centric approach?

In simple terms, instead of concentrating on the product/service you’re pushing, take a more holistic approach that is focused on the customer. 

Try and step into their shoes. It is about looking at your customers very carefully to fully understand them and the journey they take. From being an anonymous person, to becoming a lead (with marketing’s help), then going on to turn into a client (hello sales), and finally keeping them happy ever after (customer service). Get it right and you’ll retain, and potentially grow, their business with you. Even better, they should be so happy with the service they receive that they actively bring in new clients for you. 

"The business a customer generates for you tomorrow, either as a repeat customer or as a reference for other customers, is based largely on their memory of how well they were treated today." Source: Explaining Customer Centricity With a Diagram | Don Peppers | LinkedIn

Even firms with bad (and seemingly unsalvageable) reputations have managed to turn it around, showing the power that this approach can have - check out the success stories in this IBM report for more inspiration. 

Of course, if it was super quick and easy then all B2Bs would already be doing it. Sometimes it may mean an entire organisation needs to transform and shift in its thinking. If that’s the case for you, then the first step is getting full buy-in from the top. You’ll need to have the vision and leadership needed to take it forward with the end goal clearly in mind. And be assured, your results should far outweigh your efforts.

Practical tips for taking a more customer-centric approach

1) Know what success will look like

Whether you start simply with a new customer-focused marketing campaign or plan to transform your entire organisation, the number one question you have to answer is ‘what will success look like?’. The key metrics you use to track your progress, and ultimately your success, are important to think about before you get started. In this context, one of the simplest measures you can look at is the churn rate of your client base - in other words, how many new clients you need to secure to replace previous ones, and your customer lifetime value. 

2) The key ingredients

To put your customer first all teams need to sit down together to work out the finer details and agree across all levels. Then these are the key issues to think about:

Forge a strong team

  • Start by defining what customer-centricity means in your organisation 
  • Ensure all team members are fully trained and understand the process and how to execute it
  • Regular communication is key, be in close proximity and have brainstorming and feedback sessions often
  • Work through your processes and make sure everyone is equipped and empowered to manage customer issues on the spot, instead of having to handing them over to other departments
  • Define any team rewards based on customer success rather than product sales


Invest in the right technology

Getting your employees to focus on the customer first is only half of the equation. A 360-degree view of the people you’re doing business with is an absolute necessity. This kind of approach needs the support of technology if it is to truly empower your people. Everyone needs to instantly be able to access all of the data. 

One of the biggest issues that B2Bs can have is effectively collating and sharing all of the customer data that is being gathered across all departments. IT needs to be part of the mix too, to help manage the technology that will be needed to make strategies work. Collating data is the first key function that will be needed, but managing and analysing that data will also be vitally important. 

Reap the rewards

One thing is for sure, taking a customer-centric approach is increasingly important for B2Bs, if they want to step up and compete. Thanks to the internet, the world is a far smaller place and competition can now come from anywhere. Buyers are proactive, they arrive armed with knowledge and aren’t afraid to look around themselves to find the best options.

Those businesses who are excelling at what they do are focusing on their buyers and delivering services that truly match their needs. They have effectively stepped into the shoes of their customers and have created a company culture that is fully aligned with these values. But when it comes to making your organisation more customer-centric, whether you’re at the start of your journey, or have made large strides along the road, taking the plunge with these changes could lead to dramatic results.


Marketing to the modern B2B buyer

Topics: Customer service, Retain and Grow

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