It’s no secret that a company’s customer experience (CX) is vital to its success in the marketplace. And it’s easy to see how some of the world’s best-known companies make the customer experience as seamless as possible (think Uber, Amazon, Apple).
However, to those of us in the B2B world, it can seem like “customer experience” means something different than it does in the technology or direct to consumer space.
Disjointed marketing messages, complex buying committees, highly custom deals and products, buyers who aren’t the end users, Customer Service doesn’t know what Sales promised…. These are all common experiences in the B2B world.
The good news is that MarTech has become an effective toolset for B2B organizations seeking to implement good CX across an organization. In fact, a 2017 Gartner survey notes that 81% of marketers expect to compete “mostly or completely on the basis of CX.”
But don’t go out and purchase new technology just yet. As DemandGen’s COO noted in his recent blog post, laying out the customer experience before deciding which technology to buy is vital.
From the viewpoint of the customer…
First, you need a collaborative and cohesive view of the customer experience across the organization. It is not enough to glue the whole customer experience together across teams, though. You must ensure that it is designed from the viewpoint of the customer.
This sounds obvious, but it is actually more common for teams to either define the customer experience based on only their team’s limited scope and KPIs or in terms of product features.
Marketers, for example, who are trying to generate qualified leads for Sales, might define a good customer experience as providing relevant content with a KPI of sales-ready leads. Customer Service, on the other hand, might define good CX as easy-to-contact customer service and full product use, with KPIs measuring product feature use and adoption.
Without collaboration to connect it all into one holistic experience, it is very easy for teams to fall back into their individual silos. And in a B2B environment, where solutions are often customized and have multiple people on the same buying committee, it can be even more complicated — and, therefore, even more essential — to provide a cohesive and holistic experience.
…to execution by the technology
Often, teams will look at the customer experience from the lens of the technology they already have, use, and are familiar with. This is very limiting when it comes to designing solutions and details for the overall experience.
All technology solutions have a certain degree of business process already built into them. This is inherent in their feature sets and approach to the problems they are solving.
Salesforce.com, for example, has processes and features built for sales. Anyone trying to market with it runs into trouble rapidly. Similarly, Marketo processes and data make it is very difficult to sell to individual prospects.
The best-in-class solutions allow enough freedom for companies to adapt them to fit their needs, but they still have an underlying set of processes they are built on. Otherwise, they would require completely custom software developments (with all the costs and maintenance that come along with them).
It all begins with marketing
Almost uniformly, the customer experience starts with marketing, whether it’s SEM, a Google ad, or a targeted email campaign.
MarTech provides the toolsets to manage segmentation, personalization, and other aspects key to the start of a great customer experience. It also provides the most comprehensive features and tools for automated content and communication with all prospects and customers.
Sales, however, requires a complex solution to help them manage and nurture individual relationships, which MarTech is simply not designed to provide. Customer Service requires yet another solution to perform their jobs effectively.
Integrating the different tools across an organization makes it possible for data sharing across teams, which provides continuity (Sales knows what initially brought a prospect in, Customer Service knows what Sales promised) and, ultimately, a holistic customer experience.
Putting your plan into action
In order to move from a strategy on paper (or PowerPoint) to the personalized interactions that turn prospects into customers and customers into advocates, you need to map the customer experience to your solutions’ fields, values, and capabilities (and not the other way around).
It often seems from the marketing hype that a particular platform or solution can help you build out or integrate all the elements of your customer journey in just a few clicks. Don’t believe it.
There are hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of details to fully realize the vision of a unified customer experience — from field mapping, filter values, and email headers to messaging, content, campaign integration, reporting, and on and on. It is here where the Marketing Automation system serves as a hub to control the data flows and customer interactions across multiple technology solutions.
Don’t let a fragmented customer experience or technology toolset limit your company’s revenue. Define a holistic experience across all your teams. Then, start working out the data and details to make it a reality. Or, bring on an experienced partner to help!
Ryan Johnson develops and implements marketing automation strategies for DemandGen clients. As a DemandGen Consultant, he has helped clients across a wide range of industries to streamline and optimize their marketing and sales processes to drive measurable success and ROI.