Are you accelerating repurchases through your customer experience touch-points with industrial customers? What’s unique in business-to-business customer experience is the extensive interactions between the customer and supplier companies for a long time after the initial purchase. Like the touch-points we typically think about — online user experience, marketing content, sales, and service — these industrial post-purchase touch-points should be analyzed and optimized for consistent performance. But the greatest financial upside lies in capturing in-passing comments during post-purchase touch-points and using them to proactively drive expanded purchases.
As described in “Business-to-Business Customer Experience: What’s It Like?“, there is an anthill of activity between industrial customers and their suppliers:
Engineers may be requested formally or informally to visit their counterpart (electrical, mechanical, chemical, industrial, software, etc.) to work out the details in creation and use of the product. Specialists at one or both companies may be called in to conversations with the supplier’s account team, or ad-hoc as needs arise. As is frequently the case with contact centers, customers typically share a LOT of extremely high-value anecdotal information that seldom gets captured in these informal interactions, and even more rarely is acted upon by the group that could prevent recurrence of an issue or be proactive with customers’ creative ideas.
4 Steps to Customer Experience ROI
1. Capture customers’ informal post-purchase comments
Why wait to conduct a survey? If your customers are giving you information, find a way to collect and share it. This is more commonly done for testimonials; for example, Microsoft encouraged use of flip-video cameras to capture spur-of-the-moment testimonials from customers. That’s great for use with other prospects. Where you’ll get even more value is in capturing customers’ comments about what’s different from what they expected — good or bad. They’ll often share a treasure trove of insights through informal conversation. And video cameras probably don’t lend themselves to this type of information-capture. One executive I worked with made it a habit to pause in the car immediately after leaving a customer’s site to audio-record everything he could recall about the conversation, including body language. Nowadays, it’s feasible to use voice-mining technology to categorize audio content. It’s also possible to create forms that make it easy for someone leaving a customer site to create a written record of informal insights. You might even “make an app for that”.
2. Stream post-purchase data to appropriate groups
Data is only as valuable as the actions it drives. Set up processes to provide relevant customer comments to each group in the company. Your intranet or internal collaboration tool can be a good vehicle for sharing immediate feedback from customers. Or you could collect and package customer feedback for bi-weekly or monthly reports that can be reviewed regularly by groups in their staff meetings.
3. Establish cadence & methodology for originators to prevent issue recurrence
Make sure each group knows how to interpret and act on the data. And set up processes that motivate groups to take the customer comments to-heart. Give them the tools they need to rank-order issues and identify the root causes. Help them understand the difference between problem resolution and prevention. Give them incentives to anticipate customer reactions to their decisions, so that headaches can be avoided and greater value can be created.
4. Set the stage for streamlined re-purchase decisions
Once you’re getting ahead-of-the-curve by proactively taking action on customers’ informal comments, share your progress with them so that you can help them appreciate your advocacy and commitment to their well-being. This will go a long way toward capturing their hearts and minds . . . and future spending. You can share this progress informally, through the managers who heard the informal comments in the first place. And you could share this progress in formal presentations and messages with key decision-makers. One of the keys to success in doing this is to demonstrate humility and a desire for ongoing alignment with the customer.
Everyone knows that customer retention is most valuable. Proactively managing potential obstacles of repurchase is the most cost-effective and sure way to retain customers and grow their business with you. Get ahead strategically, operationally, and financially by making the most of post-purchase interactions with industrial customers. Empower people beyond your sales and service teams to collect insights, and help your organization take immediate action to put your company in the leader position for business-to-business customer experience results.
Originally published as an Advisor monthly column on CustomerThink.com as Customer Experience ROI Opportunities in B2B Touchpoints
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