Event Recap: B2B Fireside Chat – “Rethinking the Strategy Behind Customer Experience”

Our event attracted marketing executives hungry for learning, especially on the topic of customer experience. So here’s a few takeaways from the May 23, 2019 event “Rethinking the Strategy Behind Customer Experiences.”

Hero Digital’s Kevin Hanley, Senior VP, Marketing Services, posed the question, “What’s causing the gap in customer experience?” And the panel agreed, “It’s always what they (marketers) think the customer wants.” This presumed position is common when companies are on the residential side and expand to commercial. Amerigas’s Head of Digital Experience and Transformation, Barbara Lehman shared that those two sides of the house are very different. And she pointed out, “There’s still a long way to go.”

Metrics also cause the gap in customer experience. Pavone Marketing Director and GM, Jared Scott shared that people measure the wrong things like customer service performance. The organization may get great marks on a single experience, but if the customer is left alone and there’s no other positive experience, you can expect a cancellation.

Accountability is the greatest thing that causes gaps in customer experience. Consider a CMO’s accountability — performance and quarterly reports. What’s not included is the customer, customer engagement, and the level of empowerment that both reps and customers feel as they engage. Times have changed. Social media plays a critical part in sharing the customer voice.

Robot vs a human? The human relationship still trumps, according to DexYP’s CMO Gordon Henry. At DexYP he balances marketing to SMB with the human touch of salespeople. Customers fire companies, not necessarily the salesperson, who they may follow from company to company.

Panelists agreed that customer experience is all about the data. If a company knows a lot about us, we typically stay there. Customers want it “personal,” so as marketers, we have an opportunity to delight them.

Jared shared that Amazon has made accessibility tremendously easy in that now you buy anything and have someone call you immediately. “Connecting the digital experience with a human contact — that’s powerful.”

Simple things like the customer bill, Barbara mentioned, and ask how do we improve it and help the customer? Then provide the next generation of customer experience. The advice — you have to move fast on big wins. And dig in — talk to customer and ask what they want.

The panelists agreed that it all boils down to having faith in your product and services. Have faith in what you sell. Believe in the brand. Remember, how long did it take to make a dollar for Amazon? If you believe in what you’re doing and your relevant to the customer and give them accessibility to mitigate problems, you’ve cracked the code.

Net Promoter Score is important. SiteCore’s Global Director of Business Optimization, Sean Rusinko added that eCommerce data and customer experience have more transactional data, but B2B is more challenging. “Big box retailers and partners are selling online through partners or direct through portals. Commerce is now a B2B practice with more and more reps wanting to log into a portal. That’s a commerce experience.”

And content is the core of the platform with personalization and commerce. Jared added that content is “king” and data is “emperor.” Data is there to inform and help with customer journey. “That’s the next level, and it’s got to be a seamless across the touch points for a fully integrated customer journey. Expectations rise on the customer side, so ask how do we get to the next level?”

And about usage, or engagement, Gordon shared that he can “peer into the lives of our customers to measure usage. If they don’t use 13 times etc it’s a ticking time bomb. Monthly engagement is what we look at.”

Kevin posted this question: “What do you think the role of AI plays today and tomorrow?”

AI in B2B is here to stay. Machine Learning is also here, but in early adoption. ML lets marketers see how they are engaging in content and reach goals in an automated way. You have to have goals and outcomes set up otherwise you don’t know what to optimize. Sean shared his position, “Don’t even worry about it. B2B is too far behind. Unless you’ve already done testing and personalization one to many or one to a few or one to one or have already tested the homepage, forget it. You’re not there yet.” Barbara added “Build the fundamentals first. What do you want the experience to be? Build that first.”

With regard to online portals and platforms, Gordon added, “It’s all about verticalization. If they see their verbiage and images of their vertical, they can relate. This enhances customer experience.”

At the end of the day, anticipating and meeting the needs of customers in new ways should be a priority for marketers. This means better customization, personalized content leveraging better SEO, and always remember it’s more about the “people” than the “processes.”

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