The customer experience has a place in B2B companies
When I read about the “shift in B2B Marketing” one of the bigger trends is that the customer experience is finally bubbling to the top as a priority rather than an afterthought. Perhaps this is an easier focus for consumer businesses because they interact with customers on a more frequent basis. But, it’s very easy to get lost in our bubbles – no matter where you work (said the girl who works from the barn at the end of her driveway.) This is especially the case for companies who do not keep their target audience (customer) top of mind. And let’s face it, there are A LOT of distractions for companies out there. Product marketers focusing on the cool new features that everyone HAS to love; pressures from your investors or Wall Street asking you “What’s next?”; the sales team’s quarterly quota; the marketing team’s desire to explore video, and the list goes on and on and on and on. So let’s pause for a minute and take a look at why your company didn’t focus on the customer experience in the first place. There are many approaches to business you can rally behind, here are three approaches I’d like to talk about today:
- Is my product/service viable?
- Is my product/service feasible?
- Is my product/service desirable?
As you may imagine, the first two approaches are focused on delivering something to market that very well may leave your target audience out of the picture altogether. Viability is centered around considerations such as: Is this a sustainable product? Is this a good business decision? What is my annual objective? How will I keep the board, my c-suite, and my investors interested? How do I structure my services? Feasibility is centered around technical considerations: How do we build this product? What are my expenses? Is this product already in existence? How do I differentiate my services? Desirability is all about solving a particular problem in the market. And this can provide extremely important ah-ha moments where you will be able to truly build relevant, desired products that are filling a need. Any one of these approaches on their own can obviously be detrimental to a company’s success. And the first two approaches will surely leave your customer experience at the bottom of your barrel. But by considering all three, you can focus on a particular need or problem you want to solve that will ideally produce an innovative product that is both sustainable (feasible) and achievable (viable). And this sets your company up to KEEP the customer experience top of mind throughout the entire customer relationship.
This model can work as an effective balance to any one department (product marketing, sales, marketing) stealing the show. This model helps you (1) work together towards common goals, and (2) remind each other of your dependencies. Remember, just because you have a credit card, does not mean you are done selling yourself. The experience exists for the entire relationship. This isn’t a new way of thinking – thanks to companies like IDEO, it’s been around for quite some time. But, as this shift to customer experience being king is well underway, it’s a good model to keep in mind. BUT what if I’m already in business? Don’t fret. You can work backwards. Are you able to dissect your company into this model? And if not, can you make changes to get yourself there?
*Image provided by IDEO.