b2b customer journeyBusiness-to-business customer experience managers have some advantages: mountains of customer comments on-hand, account managers who practically live with their customer contacts, and executives who want to see substantive improvements in customer experience.

Use these factors to apply new wisdom to your customer experience journey mapping. Here’s a 3-step approach that bucks mainstream practice and makes more sense for B-to-B customer experience in these ways:

  • Transcend the silo-ization that typically happens
  • Segment customers per natural patterns in the data
  • Add “severity to customers” as a trump card to frequency and “severity to the company” in prioritization
  • Zero in on high-value findings with minimal expense in doing so
  • Apply insights effectively in every corner of your company

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3-Step Approach to B-to-B Customer Journey Mapping
Notice that the following recipe is focused on customer inputs, not managers’ perceptions. Note also that this approach dispenses with preconceived notions of segments, personas, and boundaries — to allow the customer insight to speak for itself.

  1. Start by examining customer comments that you have on-hand: the past year’s VoC, service and sales logs, etc.
    • Map those comments to the end-to-end customer experience journey stages.
    • Highlight the quantification customers provide about how much effort, time, and costs they had to expend.
    • Segment the map by “what customers were trying to do” at the big-picture level: not the task they were attempting, but their overall aim in buying your product at all.
  2. Share your maps in a workshop with an insightful and charismatic representative from every functional area across your company attending.
    • Focus the conversation on what each attendee’s organization can learn from the maps in their as-is condition, what they can fine-tune that they’re currently working on, what they need to do differently, and what they’d love to learn.
    • Challenge every organization to put their answers into action, with follow-up from a top executive and reporting back to the original workshop team in a group setting again.
  3. THEN, plan to ask a representative sampling of customers about their end-to-end journey for your product category (not your brand), minimizing your assumptions.
    • Use customers’ answers to refine your insights and assumptions from Steps 1 and 2.
    • Focus again on consequences to customers and their ultimate aim.
    • Repeat Step 2 workshops and actioning.
    • Create customer expectation personas based on the natural groupings you saw in the data about customers’ ultimate aims. You’ll find that these personas more accurately guide expectations management — which is the core principle of customer experience management. And you’ll find that this type of persona is actionable by all functional areas across your company!

New Wisdom Accelerates ROI
We used this approach with a client and found that the comments on-hand from just the past year’s voice-of-the-customer allowed us to paint most of the customer experience journey picture. And it gave us a tremendous amount of actionable “low-hanging fruit” to address before bothering the customer to ask about things they have already voiced. By making use of comments on-hand, the customer interviews were more interesting and valuable to customers and the supplier company, zeroing in on information that hadn’t yet been voiced.

Seeing the customer experience journey with a unified perspective across your company can go a long way toward cross-functional collaboration that’s needed to “move the needle” for customer sentiment and business results. The keys are to keep it pure, focus on customers’ well-being as the path to achieving what you want, and engage everyone meaningfully — nobody is excused from their ripple effect on customers’ well-being.

Step back and look at things from a business-sense viewpoint before setting out to do anything in customer experience management. Give top consideration to what makes the most sense from your customers’ vantage point. Do things differently if you hope to achieve differentiation. Make wise use of resources with a big-picture outlook on how everything is connected and how everything flows and has consequences.

In business-to-business customer experience management we have advantages that we should make the most of. Adopt new wisdom to see better experiences and results for all involved.

For more information, see B2B Customer Experience Management
This article was originally published on CustomerThink as part of an Advisor Column monthly series, Optimizing the B2B Customer Experience.

Photo purchased under license with Shutterstock.