Nearly all B2B executives consider customer experience (CX) to be a critical factor for success, according to recent Accenture Strategy research. Yet, only 20 percent of B2B companies are distinguished as CX masters.
B2B CX masters achieve twice the returns on their CX investments than their peers. They take threats and opportunities more seriously, invest more strategically, and focus on building experiences that are not just personalized, but highly relevant.
Four areas of focus across the customer engagement lifecycle set CX masters apart. These include: Monetizing CX; rethinking ecosystems; doubling down on digital trust; and aligning the workforce to a CX mindset.
Ninety percent of B2B executives cite CX as a very important factor to achieving their organizations’ strategic priorities. That’s up from 86 percent who felt that way two years ago.
While there may be general agreement among B2B companies on the importance of an increased focus on CX, there is considerable variability when it comes to how well companies are using CX to drive revenue growth. Only 20 percent of B2B companies excel at CX and achieve strong financial results (see figure below). These CX “masters” typically generate 2X the return on their CX investments than their less masterful peers. At the other end of the spectrum, “laggards”—those companies with the largest gaps between CX strategy and execution—achieve very low or negative revenue growth.
ONLY ONE IN FIVE B2B COMPANIES ARE POSITIONED TO WIN
While interest in CX is growing among the vast majority of all B2B companies, CX masters act on that interest more decisively. They outpace laggards by 30 to 40 percent when it comes to investing in CX enablers—from cloud-based solutions to IoT capabilities to sales force training. They understand the effect of market changes on their business. And they take the trends that are shaping customer experiences more seriously:
DISRUPTIVE COMPETITORS. Seventy-two percent of all B2B company leaders believe their customers are open to doing business with new market entrants. But 86 percent of leaders at "master" companies feel the same way.
ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES. Seventy-three percent of B2B execs surveyed believe smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) will completely change the way they market, sell and serve their business customers. Among masters, that figure soars to 85 percent.
EVOLVING CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS. Masters are more likely to acknowledge the impact of changing expectations for product quality (83 percent of CX masters versus 70 percent of laggards) and consumer-like interactions that are real-time, always-on and multi-channel (82 percent versus 60 percent).
CX masters are expanding their focus to hyper-relevant experiences that dynamically adapt to the evolving contexts of their business customers. They are doing so by building such a keen understanding of their customers’ fast-changing needs and preferences that they are able to continually and proactively deliver solutions, services and experiences that business customers value.
Masters’ shift to hyper-relevance is evident in the capabilities they are planning to develop over the next three years. By a margin of 25 to 30 percent, masters indicate they are more likely to focus on developing more compelling experiences and maximizing the relevance of products, services and experiences. Their focus on relevance changes the game and allows them to maintain their growth momentum.
Our research revealed four distinct imperatives that CX masters pursue.
Nearly half of all companies (49 percent) admit they are failing to deliver the cutting-edge, relevant experiences their customers crave. And approximately 40 percent are unsure how to monetize their experiences. Masters achieve different results, primarily by having a better understanding of what customers value and also by generating revenue from customer data. In fact, 93 percent of them believe they successfully monetize CX. Only 76 percent of laggards can say the same. Their self-assessment.
B2B executives must determine how to improve CX while ceding more of the experience to their partners. As CX masters demonstrate, the answer lies in adopting an ecosystem mindset and business model. Specifically, masters are more likely to manage innovation and offering development with a network of partners that co-evolve, share resources and create value as a unified team. They provide key partners the tools they need to grow their businesses. And they orchestrate a trusting environment that encourages the right partners to deliver the right experiences to drive connected growth.
To learn more about how CX masters achieve connected growth with ecosystem orchestration, download our companion point of view, Make music, not noise.
One in five B2B company executives admits their customers don’t trust them to handle data effectively and securely. This can have dire economic consequences. More than three-quarters (78 percent) of B2B customers indicate they are more likely to do business with companies they trust. This gives CX masters, who are also masters of digital trust, a distinct advantage. Masters understand the digital trust imperative. They are much more likely than laggards (88 percent versus 67 percent) to recognize that suppliers and partners play a key role in data security. And they invest significantly more to ensure their customers’ data is safe.
Digital investments alone won’t create experiences that drive growth. Human skills, organizational agility and culture are the things that ultimately enable B2B companies to constantly adapt to changing customer needs. Masters are far ahead of their peers when it comes to building talent models and organizational mindsets centered on customer experiences: Eighty-four percent of them foster a culture designed to improve relevance and 88 percent augment their workforces with tools to enhance CX (versus 50 and 51 percent of laggards, respectively).
B2B COMPANIES HAVE AN IMPORTANT CHOICE TO MAKE
They can continue to pay lip service to the importance of customer experiences—and watch their revenues, market share and profitability erode. Or they can support their rhetoric with these four actions to create CX value at every turn. CX masters have clearly chosen the latter option. It’s time all B2B companies do the same.