B2B businesses have as much to gain from an optimal customer experience strategy as B2C organizations, but building and implementing effective CX methods takes time and effort. The larger an organization is, and the more siloed its business units, the more difficult it becomes to get all departments united on a CX strategy. The good news: implementing a relatively simple set of CX initiatives can set your company apart from the competition.

What separates CX leaders from laggards

Customer experience platform Medallia surveyed 375 senior B2B executives on their CX initiatives and identified three distinct CX practices that differentiated the “leaders” from the “followers” and “laggards.” CX leaders were more likely to:

  • Implement multiple digital listening tools.
  • Be “relentless” about using customer feedback to drive action across the organization.
  • Hold more than one department accountable for the company’s overall CX efforts.

Listen to your customers

CX leaders were more likely to have, at least, six types of digital listening tools in place to collect customer feedback via their websites, mobile apps and social media channels. They also then use that customer feedback to drive action across the business.

“Collecting feedback via digital listening channels offers customers the freedom to provide input on their own time-frame, while experiences are fresh in their minds and through the channels they are increasingly accustomed to using when they interact with consumer brands,” writes Medallia, highlighting the merging of customer expectations whether they are engaging with B2C or B2B companies.

Once a company has systems in place to collect customer feedback, the next step is making sure that feedback is shared — and acted upon. Medallia identified ten common ways B2B organizations can act on customer feedback. Companies that took action in all ten areas outlined by Medallia were 40% more likely to be a CX leader — those that took up only five of the actions were still 10-times as likely to be a leader.

Four actions, in particular, “most clearly distinguished” CX leaders. They were when companies used customer feedback to:

  • Introduce new products, services or practices.
  • Improve existing products, services or operations.
  • Prepare customer renewal agreements and/or identify expansion opportunities with existing customers.
  • Recognized employees for excellent customer service (those who were mentioned positively in customer communications).

Make multiple teams responsible for your CX strategy

The ownership of CX strategies directly influences the effectiveness of a company’s CX efforts. Organizations that implemented a “mixed model,” where CX accountability is shared between a centralized CX team, saw more success than those that made CX programs the responsibility of a single team or separate business units.

“Our research shows that companies that use the mixed model are about 50% more likely to be CX leaders than those that use either of the other two [models],” reports Medallia. (The other two models being the “centralized model” where the CX program is owned by a single team or the “decentralized model” where different CX initiatives are owned by separate business units.)

CX leaders share customer experience responsibilities across business departments, and they hold multiple top-level executives — from the CEO to the COO, CMO, head of products and more — responsible for the business’ CX outcomes. “Organizations that hold more than five of these executives accountable are about 65% more likely to be CX leaders than those that assign CX responsibilities to fewer than three.”

In other words, companies that can break down the silos between their departments and share ownership for the overall customer experience have a much better chance of building effective CX programs.

The pay-off

An exceptional customer experience strategy delivers measurable results across the board. Medallia’s survey found the companies leading in CX were more likely to have positive revenue growth 92% of the CX leaders in the survey experienced positive revenue growth compared to 79% of the laggards.

Not only did CX improve the bottom line, it also impacted customer growth and innovation. The CX leaders were 16 percentage points more likely to have grown their customer base by 5% or more, and were 17 percentage points more likely to have made, at least, five significant innovations to their products, services or practices.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.


“What would happen if marketers embraced privacy as a value of the company?”

This was the question posed to me by Duane Schulz, principal of Schulz Advisors LLC. In a digital world where businesses are so focused on demand generation and revenue opportunities, marketers often view data privacy policies as yet another hurdle to jump through.

But instead of viewing privacy regulations as an imposition, what if marketers could shift the narrative and use data privacy as a core tenant of the brand’s value?

At MarTech East in September, Schulz will explore this topic in his session, Don’t Be Evil: A Framework for Lean Surveillance Marketing. He’ll discuss how marketing technology is contributing to users’ growing privacy and trust concerns while offering solutions on how marketers can shift to user-first trust and consent-based brand marketing.

In light of heightened privacy concerns, data breaches, and the launch of new data privacy legislature, consumers are more hyper-aware and protective of their data than ever before. Martech practitioners describe privacy and data management as a “compliance” matter, but only 36% of participants in the 2019 Martech Salary Survey said they were responsible for data privacy and compliance in their martech stack.

To pursue leads and revenue in a digital world, marketers are tracking behavior, targeting individuals, disrupting journeys, gathering data without implicit consent, and performing identity resolution through our martech stacks. But as consumers take more ownership over their data and privacy rights, these strategies won’t be sustainable forever. These days, we’re entering a digital landscape where privacy and trust will become the “new oil,” explained Schulz.

“One of the ways to start thinking differently is to consider the work marketers are doing from a brand perspective,” Schulz said. “We’re measuring MQLs and CPLs, but are we measuring the contribution we’re making to the brand value?”

If marketers are willing to advocate privacy and transparency as core principles of a user-first digital experience, then we can begin to shift the focus from short-term leads to lasting trust and long-term brand value.

Schulz proposes that marketers can start by developing a privacy-forward framework that the organization can uphold.

Establish core values

Schulz recommends starting with a set of beliefs and principles that places the visitor’s journey on a higher level than the marketers’. Organizations must recognize we’re “renting” our customers, not owning them, and that requires certain standards that must be understood across the organization. Schulz explained that marketers are perfectly positioned to propose a process or template that outlines the steps necessary to create a specific surveillance policy for the team and organization.

Consider a real-world approach

Build digital experiences that mirror the customer’s physical experience. This one can be challenging for many businesses, but Schulz offers a unique perspective: “Think about this way. If you were in, say, Target, and there was a person following you around visibly, writing down everything you did, then suddenly they jump in front of you with a sign that indicates what you should do next, how would you feel?”

If marketers start thinking about how a physical experience can be translated into a digital touchpoint, it would naturally foster more transparency and consent from the user. Rather than forcing a sale on someone, marketers should consider tactics that encourage organic engagement, which can be the catalyst for conversion.

Prioritize trust and consent

Marketers don’t always understand the tactical processes that go into tracking user activities on the web. By making efforts to uncover those processes used by our martech vendors, marketers can begin to understand how (and if) these methods comply with user privacy. “If marketers had narratives of what each tool did, they would step back,” Schulz said.

Content is king

“Content creates more value than digital interactions. Great content allows you to earn the data, instead of earning the data through trickery,” Schulz said.

Impactful content has the ability to resonate with customers on a deeper level than retargeting and personalization alone. By developing and sharing content that customers can extract value from, marketers can build a relationship grounded in trust and intentional engagement.

“At the end of the day, if a company is bought or sold, nobody fights over the MQLs or customer data points. They care about brand value,” Schulz said.

“When designing everything from blog content to Tweets, marketers need to be asking: are we practicing brand value?”

Don’t miss Duane Schulz’ session Don’t Be Evil: A Framework for Lean Surveillance Marketing at MarTech East in Boston, September 16-18.

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