SiriusDecisions Summit 2016 Highlights: Why Customer Experience Can Make or Break Your Success
- A positive customer experience is a crucial component of any B2B company’s success
- A SiriusDecisions study found 80 percent of customers say customer experience is the most significant reason to work with a provider
- Megan Heuer indicated that a majority of the attendees will increase their investment in customer experience in the next 12 months
A positive customer experience is a crucial component of any B2B company’s success. In fact, a SiriusDecisions research study released today found that for 80 percent of B2B customers, customer experience is the most significant reason behind the decision to work with a particular provider.
But, as Megan Heuer, Vice President of Research at SiriusDecisions, pointed out in her session on customer experience at Summit 2016 in Nashville, “Most B2B companies say they want to be customer-focused but aren’t sure where to start or how to invest to deliver on that promise.” That statement clearly resonated with the Summit audience, as an onsite poll early in Megan’s talk indicated that a large majority of the attendees will increase their investment in customer experience in the next 12 months.
So, how do we deliver on that all-important focus on the customer? Well, who better to provide insight into what customers really want than the customers themselves? The SiriusDecisions 2016 Customer Experience Study on customer preferences in the post-sale lifecycle found some startling results that highlight the opportunity for B2B organizations that aim to improve customer experience to drive business performance:
- Customers overwhelmingly prefer to work with providers they’ve already worked with successfully. Out of nine options, the highest percentage of respondents (38 percent) rated previous experience with the company as the most significant driver of their decision to select a provider. Overall, 80 percent of respondents selected a decision driver related to their own experiences with the selling organization or the experiences of others (e.g. customer references or testimonials).
- However, a large proportion of customers don’t feel they have a successful working relationship with their providers. We calculated experience perception through averages and Net Promoter® and top box scores. While average scores were relatively high, the more nuanced scores painted a much bleaker picture, with 42 percent of respondents not sure about renewing, 45 percent not getting the value they were promised, 50 percent not wanting to buy more from the provider, and 61 percent not willing to recommend the provider.
- Executives are quite unhappy with post-sale content and interactions in the retain/actualize phase of the SiriusDecisions Customer Lifecycle Framework. On a four-point satisfaction scale, executives ranked their perception of all types of post-sale content and interactions as dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, and the availability of these interactions and content as limited or largely unavailable. Respondents’ hesitation to renew with their providers can likely be attributed directly – at least in part – to this finding.
Megan also laid out three tools for B2B leaders to get started on improving the customer experience:
- Goals. Establish what customers want and need, and what the business needs to accomplish. These objectives include customer efficiency, retention, growth and advocacy.
- Perception. Find out what customers think and how they feel about the current post-sale experience. What do they need to do business with you and get value out of their purchase?
- Delivery. Understand who and what are involved in creating the post-sale customer experience. Are customers getting the support they need from the appropriate functions in each lifecycle stage?
The results from the study show that B2B customer experience isn’t just important to customer growth, retention and advocacy – it can truly make or break a company’s success. “Setting goals isn’t enough to define experience design and execution,” Megan advised. “Get to know customer perceptions of that experience to refine and prioritize what to do.” In closing, she assured the audience, “Once goals, perception and delivery are understood, customer experience improvement becomes much easier to achieve.”