Improving the customer journey for B2B marketers

Improving the customer journey

Customer Journey InsightA classic cliché of television talent shows occurs when contestants talk about having “been on a journey”. Much as this explanation may grate when we have heard it for the nth time, it is an inescapable product of the human condition that we all go on journeys throughout our personal and working lives. Time, curiosity and progress make sure of that.

Mutual benefits of a memorable customer journey

As B2B marketers, the challenge is to make sure that our customers have the best journey experience we can give them. Not only in the altruistic sense, although it does feel good when others have an amazing experience, but also because if they get a great feeling about our company, they will come back for more. If it was memorable, they will tell their social network about us too. It’s a win-win situation.

There is also measurable financial benefit, in line with the traditional wisdom that it is significantly cheaper to keep existing customers than it is to win new ones. This led to the development of the Net Promoter Score3, based upon whether a customer would recommend you to their network or not. If the results are interpreted and acted upon effectively, we should typically act to improve the brand experience for those who don’t feel they would wish to promote the company or brand, whilst ensuring the existing promoters remain happy throughout their journey.

Cross-channel strategies involve cultural change

To satisfy potential and existing customers, it is clearly important to address these segments via a robust cross-channel marketing strategy, in which we think about how best to approach customers in multiple ways.

Recent research1 shows that over 70% of marketers felt that optimising the customer journey across multiple touchpoints was very important for their digital marketing in the coming years. When looking solely at B2B marketers2, the figure is similar, at around two-thirds.

But whilst there is clearly the will to drive the customer experience (CX) forwards, one of the barriers to digital marketing that the B2B marketing survey2 revealed was that whilst technology has moved on, there may not be the people in place to produce the excellent CX that the company envisages. To rectify this situation, as technological innovation is implemented there needs to be a corresponding infrastructure change put in place to support it, which may challenge existing corporate culture.

An important part of the necessary cultural review should be to consider options such as internal staff training, recruitment, and outsourcing as part of the ongoing digital strategy.

What do customers expect?

Customer expectations have increased over time, partly through new standards set by industry disruptors regarding the customer experience. It is perhaps not surprising then that 23% of marketers recently stated that their organisations placed the highest emphasis regarding CX on making the experience as valuable as possible, with the same percentage focusing on making the experience as personalised and relevant as possible, which drives perception of value1.

On-boarding needs to be smooth

It should never be forgotten that each customer’s relationship with the brand starts with their very first contact. The initial impressions we give are vitally important. If a potential customer has a poor on-boarding experience, they can easily be lost and become just another churn rate2 statistic. What could we have done differently to turn them into a brand advocate instead? The on-boarding CX must be rigorously tested to ensure it is as straightforward and clear as possible.

Catering for differing skills levels

In the digital arena, one area where companies can fall down is in recognising that their target audience may have widely different technology skills, and that just because the experience at each touchpoint makes sense to the originators, it may not be suitable for a section of their audience. It can be useful to have others who are less closely involved with the process review the CX, and test it to make sure there aren’t any potential problems that have been missed.

Going on the customer  journey together

By helping potential customers take their first step on a journey with us, we improve our chances of converting it into the start of a long and mutually beneficial journey. The customer does not need to know they’re “on a journey” per se. If we get it right, they should just be able to sit back and enjoy the ride.

 

 

 

 

1 Econsultancy Digital Intelligence Briefing: 2017 Digital Trends (Feb 2017)

https://econsultancy.com/reports/digital-intelligence-briefing-2017-digital-trends/

 

2 Econsultancy Digital Intelligence Briefing: B2B Digital Trends 2016-2017 (Sept 2016) https://econsultancy.com/reports/b2b-digital-trends-2016-2017/

 

3 Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score and NPS are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld

About the Author

Charlotte Graham-Cumming

Director, Ice Blue Sky Ltd

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