• Although the B2C and B2B post-sale journeys differ, the basics of a positive customer experience are the same
  • Organizations that place a great deal of importance on customer engagement are far more likely to gain and maintain loyal customer advocates
  • SiriusDecisions Command Center® data shows that in organizations with a robust reference program, references make an impact on at least 50 percent of revenue

A few months ago, my cat, Cowboy (pictured), started eating less and became lethargic. After several trips to the vet, my husband and I began to suspect that Cowboy had developed an allergy to his long-preferred cat food. Indeed, once we switched him to another kind, he began to recover right away.

Cat resting on pillow

But what would I do with the seven cases (that’s 168 cans for non–cat owners) of the formerly preferred cat food I still had left? I had been buying it from online pet supply store Chewy.com in bulk. The company’s return policy states that “if you’re not 100% unconditionally satisfied with your pet supplies, you can return them.” I decided to give Chewy a call. My experience turned into a great illustration of the power of customer engagement.

A cheerful customer service rep named Adam picked up the phone after one ring. When I explained my situation, his first response was to ask if my cat was doing better. Then Adam said, “We’ll refund you for those seven cases immediately. There’s no need to ship them back; please donate them to a cat shelter. You don’t even need to get a receipt.” Grateful and unexpectedly delighted, I dropped those cans off at my local animal rescue straightaway and took to Twitter to let the internet know about my positive experience – I had become a Chewy advocate.

I’ve been a Chewy customer for years. It has low prices, a convenient autoship program and a user-friendly website. Like any busy, budget-conscious consumer, I appreciate these offerings. But in the modern world of online retail, these offerings aren’t unique. What sets Chewy apart from the rest – and what’s turned me into a customer advocate – is the company’s genuine love for pets and its company-wide calibration around what’s best for its customers, pre- and post-sale.

How does my experience as a consumer and customer advocate translate to the B2B post-sale journey? I checked in with SiriusDecisions’ resident customer advocacy expert, Amy Bills, to find out. “Of course, the B2B customer experience has more nuances and is typically longer,” she said. “But the basics still hold true.”

For example, let’s look at two segments of organizations sharing benchmark data in the SiriusDecisions Command Center®. Those in segment one reported that customer engagement is “important” or “very important” to their organization. They care about it and they’re investing in it in some capacity – what happens post-sale matters to them. Those in segment two reported that customer engagement is “unimportant.” In these organizations, it’s not likely to be an area for new investment or self-reflection. For these two segments, we reviewed two data points:

  • An increase in Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) of 20 percent or higher. An NPS survey, as Amy pointed out, “is really a loyalty question that asks, ‘Would you recommend us to others?’” In segment one, 24 percent reported an increase in NPS of 20 percent or higher year over year. “They’re seeing not just decent scores, but rising scores,” she explained. “They care about customer engagement and they’re investing in improving the customer experience, and they’re getting results in a score that’s not only a pretty accepted indicator of loyalty, but also actually an indicator of potential advocacy.” As for segment two, less than half that percentage – only 11 percent – of organizations reported a year-over-year increase in NPS of 20 percent or higher.
  • At least one-third of eligible customers participating in references and advocacy. In B2B, not all customers are eligible for – or would be effective at – being an advocate. “But if you have a third of eligible customers participating in some form of reference or advocacy, that’s a pretty healthy number,” Amy said. “You’ve got a substantial group to work with for advocacy.” In segment one of the benchmark data group, 36 percent of organizations indicated that at least one-third of their eligible customers are participating in references and advocacy – and many reported even greater participation. In segment two, however, just 11 percent of reporting organizations were able to harness at least one-third of their customers to advocate for their brand.

In her session “High Performance: Customer Engagement” at this year’s SiriusDecisions Summit in Austin, Amy will share some of the customer engagement strategies high-performing B2B organizations are employing that set them up for success. In the Command Center, high performers self-report that their reference program has an impact on at least 50 percent of their revenue. Further data shows that almost all of these high performers (94 percent) have at least one-third of eligible customers participating in that reference program.

So, what can we glean from this data? “To have considerable impact on your company’s revenue, you need to have a strong reference program,” Amy concluded. “If you’ve planned strategically so that you recruit references, you can tell particular stories – that kind of robustness in a reference program correlates with having a substantial amount of revenue impacted by references.”

She added, “It’s smart as an organization – B2B or B2C – to make it really easy for customers to advocate.” Some strategies are simple: Have a Twitter account and name it appropriately. Ensure content on your website is easy to share on social media. Make it virtually effortless for those happy customers like me to become delighted advocates.