When we talk about customer experience (CX), most of the time we’re talking about the experiences that customers have with businesses, also known as business-to-consumer (B2C) experiences. We’re talking about things like what people think about their local coffee shop, their car dealer, even their grocer.
But we don’t often talk about the way businesses experience other businesses, or business-to-business (B2B) experiences. Companies have to buy things from other companies all the time – things like technology, consulting services, and even commercial coffee machines.
While everyone wishes they had – but no one actually possesses – a crystal ball to know where CX trends are heading, based on our experience, intuition, and the current state of CX, we can make some educated guesses.
Six Things to Consider as You Think about What B2B CX Will Look Like In Five Years
1. B2C experiences will drive B2B expectations
B2B and B2C customer experiences will continue to converge and eventually become one and the same. Of course, there are differences between businesses selling to consumers and businesses selling to other businesses, but ultimately it is a person (or people) making the buying decision in both cases. So, it stands to reason that your B2C expectations at a Starbucks or using your smartphone in your personal life (a much easier and typically satisfying user experience) will increasingly become the standard by which you judge and set expectations for your B2B interactions. Companies need to figure out how to deliver B2C-style ease and convenience in their B2B interactions.
2. Boards will demand CX focus
Company board of directors will become more curious and eventually demand that the leadership team’s CX strategy gives them the best chance to succeed with existing and potential customers. Equally important, they’ll want to understand how employees are prepared to change, execute on, and deliver the intended CX, whether they are customer-facing or they support customer-facing people or those who design the CX technology. The first few questions will be: “Do we have a sound CX strategy?” and “What is it?” and “Are our employees’ hearts and minds connected to it?”
3. CX must be measurable and connected to business objectives
Leaders will increasingly demand that CX initiatives and successes be measurable and assessable against corporate goals, objectives, and outcomes. As this occurs, new individual and team CX standards and accountabilities will become more commonplace, measured, and valued by organizations – pushing the CX to greater heights.
4. Clients will expect personalization
A personalized CX, especially in a B2B world, will become a priority. Just as customers know or can easily learn about most brands, organizations, or individuals, customers will expect that you have the same information about them, their organization, and their needs. This will drive higher expectations for a unique and personalized B2B CX that makes the organization and individuals involved feel valued.
5. Disruptors will use CX as their competitive advantage
B2B organizations will continue to be disrupted by smaller, nimbler, and imaginative organizations that deliver a differentiated CX. Look where Blockbuster went when Netflix took over the scene, or what has happened to the taxi business because of companies like Uber and Lyft. The companies that get ahead of these competitive and very real threats early will have a fighting chance.
6. Operational efficiencies will drive a better customer experience
In the B2C world, customer-facing technology is becoming more integral to a great customer experience. However, in the B2B landscape, human interaction will continue to play the most critical role in a differentiated experience. This means the onus is on companies to invest in their people and processes to enable employees to establish those connections and relationships and deliver the personalized CX that will be expected of them.
Prepare For The Future
Change happens quickly in business, especially with the speed at which technology and people’s access to it evolves. If you start working on these six CX areas right now, you’ll set your business up to start capturing the wins that can come from delivering the kind of CX other people and their businesses are looking for.
What’s the first change you can make to position your company for some new CX success?