Many organizations rely on external partners (or ‘intermediaries’) to support “their” customer experiences. But is it really “their” customer and “their” experience? Isn’t shared responsibility intrinsic to partnership? To be successful, the short answer is yes.

Take the following scenario:

Amy wants to buy a Lego set as a birthday gift. She goes to Lego’s website to find out about different products and finally decides what she wants to get. The problem is, she can’t wait for an online order to be delivered, she needs the gift for tomorrow night! There is no Lego store nearby, so she goes online to check if a local retail store (selling multiple brands, including Lego) has it in stock. They do! Off she goes during her lunch break to buy the Lego set in time for the birthday celebrations.

This scenario may be imagined, but it certainly represents a common experience for many customers who do research on a brand’s website but end up buying from a retail partner. For Amy, the quality of her end-to-end customer journey depends on both the brand and the retail partner.

To succeed in the face of shifting market dynamics and increasingly empowered customers, brands and retailers need to rethink their partnership dynamics to focus on their shared responsibility for customer experiences. To do this, brands and retailers need to:

  • Put customers at the heart of partnership operations and processes. Brands and retailers must ensure their partnerships focus on the customer, not just contractual obligations. CX leaders must agree on CX standards, ensuring that operational processes between the two organizations don’t adversely affect the end customer experience.
  • Manage residual channel conflict concerns that perpetuate disjointed CX. Many retailers worry about disintermediation as B2B2C brands expand their direct-to-consumer (DTC) aspirations. But retail partners remain an important part of their go-to-market strategy, particularly those brands with more ubiquitous or lower-exclusivity products. CX leaders at brands can mitigate channel conflict concerns by collaborating on shared customer experiences that support customers’ goals. For example, Samsung provides resources to support consumer research on its own brand site and provides buy buttons that seamlessly connect customers to retail partners for purchases, if they so choose.
  • Collaborate and share for mutual benefit. CX leaders who align objectives with their partners can change relationship dynamics and drive collaboration for mutual benefit. To drive positive business impact, brand and retail partners must focus on achieving mutual benefit through sharing assets, customer insights, and operational resources. For example, drop-ship programs create unique benefits for both sides, extending a brand’s reach and a retailer’s product portfolio without capital investment.

To find out more, see our latest report: Create Successful Shared Customer Experiences With External Business Partners