Customer experience teams (CX) in B2B

The companies that operate in a B2B environment often trust and use customer experience measures such as NPS (net promoter score) where respondents are employees from the purchasing department at your client company and not the end consumers using the product or service. What does it mean? 

The supplier is interacting with the client company’s purchasing department and their KPI is usually to keep the costs down. The purchasing department has limited or no knowledge of what challenges the middle or end consumers are facing. They have no awareness of pain points the end consumer of the product or service experience. When dealing with purchasing departments the companies may subject themselves to a limiting belief that the price is most important which can not be further from the truth. CX teams dive deep into the pain points, needs, processes of people who are using a particular product or service.

For example, a manufacturer of zippers, who sell through distributors or representatives, rarely ever inspect the process of sewing the zipper in at the clothing factory or in the furniture upholstery process. On the contrary, a furniture board cutting company, working without distributors or representatives, has the perfect opportunity to observe the kitchen furniture assembling process for the end consumer which greatly helps to understand the challenges the furniture manufacturers face and know what the end-users want.

It’s a very good practice for senior leaders to work in the customer service department for a couple of days to really feel the emotions of customers calling in and hear what customers’ voices sound like, what are they frustrated with or disappointed or sad about. This will tremendously help to shape the CX teams and allocate the tasks between them, ie. those working on improving what processes and so on.

On the other hand, it is much more usual to find CX departments in the B2C environments. The B2C sector is generally closer to the end-user than B2B. They are way better equipped to see and feel the emotions of their end users whereas for the B2B sector the CX department is new territory. However, both sectors have something very important in common – they are both strategically working towards increasing customer satisfaction. Establishing CX teams allow the CEOs to create and align the customer-focused mindset between all the departments.

Now if you are new to the customer experience teams and departments, and not sure where to even begin to implement this change, let’s look at the CX in a bit more detail.

1. When and why companies need CX teams? Three types of triggers and what to avoid.

  • Trigger no 1 – when the HQ of the holding requests all the CEOs to establish CX teams. You do not know what they are, what’s their purpose, and where to even start;
  • Trigger no 2 – when in B2B environments the real end consumer is unknown and there is a strong desire to comprehend the needs in order to provide better and more innovative products and services;
  • Trigger no 3 – when several years in a row a company is trying to live and breathe ‘customer satisfaction’ as a strategic objective but it’s left upon the sales and customer support teams to accomplish it. All the other departments are blind to the strategy or end consumer.
 

2. How to build a CX team avoiding mistakes and humiliation?

One of the most important things for the CEO is to create and understand the WHY? Without the WHY the customer teams are technical/robotic teams with no heart and emotion. When the WHY is present, the next step is to create the space and initiate the conversations to gather the key insights which will later become the backbone to the journey of delivering on the strategic customer satisfaction objectives.

  • Arrange between 8 to 15 meetings (especially in the B2B sector) with different customers from different countries;
  • Start forming the same mindset within the top management team, for example, getting ready to call the clients on Zoom together (because it’s impossible to visit in person due to the global pandemic) and instead of asking closed-ended or narrow questions that won’t yield any useful results, such as ‘How do you rate us from 0 to 5?’ or ‘What criteria do you use to choose a supplier?’ ask open-ended questions like ‘What are your pain points in prototyping/assembling process?’, ‘What takes up the most of your time?’ and ‘What product/services decisions are the hardest to make internally and with the end-users?’ or ‘Tell us/show us/explain to us how the full process from unpacking to installation look like’;
  • All department heads, including IT, Finance, and HR should be participating and calling the clients and asking all of these questions;
  • All the engineers, assembly line and warehouse workers/supervisors, all people involved in all stages of product or service must attend these CX meetings with clients, not just the sales managers. The sales managers in the B2B setting have very limited knowledge of how the subproduct or end product or service is used.
 

3. How do clients react to CX teams?

Clients appreciate CX teams and they ask for more meetings. They feel that they are cared about and not left to their own devices.

  • Talking can lead the clients to awareness and a better understanding of their own processes and needs;
  • CX meetings help clients to improve their own inside processes and align information between themselves which otherwise would not happen because they sit in vertical functions busy with their work; They do not necessarily know the value of the product the purchasing department is buying.
 

4.  What advantages are there for the enterprises?

CX teams help to shape up a lot of things within the organizations. They improve products, create new ones, find gaps in processes and give voice to all employees and clients.

  • CX process helps to break silos within organizations;
  • Having the systematic dialogue and seeing pain points through the client’s eyes can help to uncover what extra services or products they can be provided with before the client even verbalize them;
  • It can help to discover that sometimes client’s lack knowledge or a certain ‘know-how’ and they are in need of professional expertise which now can be offered to them;
  • Helps R&D process;
  • It can help to redefine the inside KPIs when clients voice their concerns and needs, for example, 80% delivery on time might be sufficient to your organization, but might not be good enough for your client;
  • When managers of supporting functions become aware it’s easier to keep the same customer-focused mindset across the organization and embed this into their managerial rituals.
 

5.  How do CX teams operate?

CX teams’ main purpose is to develop, implement and educate. It’s like having a customer inside your organization at the forefront of leading the way. The vital part of this journey is to have all hands on deck – everyone must be committed.

  • We recommend not more than 7 people at any one meeting; keep the teams small;
  • Meetings can be held on a weekly basis;
  • A senior manager or middle manager (can be HR or IT manager or a production manager) is recommended to be a driver in these meetings. The sales manager and key account managers are the participants of the CX team.

We are here to take you by hand until CX becomes part of your DNA. We help you to establish the CX teams, break the ice inside and outside your organization and take away the headache and confusion.

If you are fanatical about your customer experience and want to unite all the functions to work for one customer purpose read the 5 Powerful Steps How to Kick-start the end-to-end business discipline. 

Hope this article provided some valuable ideas.

Laura

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The companies that operate in a B2B environment often trust and use customer experience measures such as NPS (net promoter score) where respondents are employees from the purchasing department at your client company and not the end consumers using the product or service. What does it mean?

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