benchmarking valueGetting ahead in differentiating your business is an ongoing quest. Customer experience benchmarking studies can be a great tool to monitor and maintain your edge — if you know how to maximize your value from them. Here are 8 paths to gaining value from best practices studies:

1) Participate! By investing a portion of an hour to answer the study questions you’ll likely pick up an idea or two for tweaking your perspective or approach for greater success. Every study has its own theme, so there’s always potential for picking up something new from each one. (Even if you’re on the agency side and may not qualify for a certain study, encourage your clients to participate — they’re less likely to be complacent as a result, and complacency is not a great thing for an agency.) What else only takes 15-30 minutes and gives you a possible new model, big-picture view, and/or tickler for taking your programs to the next level?

2) Accept the offer — whether it’s a donation to charity or a free copy of the report or something else, enjoy the token of appreciation. A complimentary report typically saves hundreds of dollars in your budget. Conducting your own benchmarking study can often cost thousands. Study authors specify how they will honor your confidentiality, anonymity and privacy.

3) Read the report. Scanning the graphics (at a minimum) typically takes only a few minutes, and most reports take less than an hour to read. It’s great to have a library of resources on-hand, and even better to digest it, be able to draw upon it at-will, and use it to improve your programs.

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4) Focus on the most common practices. To “keep-up-with-the-Joneses”, keep an eye on what most companies are doing. Consider whether the prevalent approaches make sense for your business. Just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean it’s the right timing or approach for your programs, but alternatively, it might mean that ignoring those practices could set you back. A note of caution: avoid complacency based on industry averages — standards across your industry may be comforting, but averages or even best-in-industry might not be impressive to customers, relative to their frustrations and needs.

5) Explore the least common practices. This is an oft-overlooked key to differentiation. If you want to stand out from your competition, do things differently. The least common practices often represent a huge opportunity for making strides.

6) Act on advice. Recommendations in a benchmarking study are an extremely cost-effective source of consulting. The advice is there for the taking, so reap the value that’s readily available to you.

7) Share your story. Studies can be an excellent public relations source to become well-known for your organization’s lessons learned and achievements. Most studies include vignettes to exemplify the themes and findings. Study authors may also have additional vehicles, such as podcasts, talk shows, blogs, ezines, and so forth, to share your story as inspiration to other companies and to showcase your success.

8) Build a compelling business case. Statistics and quotes from benchmarking studies are a valuable asset both formally and informally in managing your stakeholders and improving your program’s success. Data from studies can also be used as a door-opener with prospects, partners, and so forth.

For more information, see 2020s Customer Value: 20 Wishes
Here’s to your breakthrough successes and ongoing improvements as you follow these 8 paths to value through customer experience benchmarking studies.

b2b customer experience 2013See the table of contents of the Annual ClearAction Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Best Practices Study and buy your copy today.

See more information about the customer experience success factors that were identified through the B2B CEM study.