By Jessica Phillips
Many of the conversations I have with my clients revolve around how to create a memorable, and ultimately a more profitable, customer experience. They know it’s important for B2C companies, but they don’t fully understand the benefits of providing a superior customer experience for B2B companies or how to go about creating this kind of experience.
Some clients think it takes a radically different approach to provide customers with a memorable experience, compared to B2C companies. I’ve found that it really isn’t all that different between the two segments and the same principles and research methods apply to both. After all, we’re still marketing to people, no matter which segment you fit in.
The very essence of your brand is made up of what people think about you (how you meet their needs and wants, the emotions they feel when interacting with you and the stereotypes associated with your brand). When we work with companies on refining and improving their customers’ experience, we follow a proven curriculum set in place by Disney Institute (http://disneyinstitute.com). We’ve added a few ideas to the process based on trial and error over the years, but here are a few things we’ve found to be very helpful.
- Categorize your company into “core groups” (the core areas of operation…ie. Service, product development, employee training and recruitment, etc) and build teams that can focus on improving that core area. This team should be cross cultural, intentionally having members contributing and thinking outside of day-to-day roles For example, your product development team may be made up of your product analyst but also front line service employees, maintenance supervisor, director of HR, etc. Encourage an environment of ideas and thinking from everyone!
- Establish an “integration team”. One group needs to be completely responsible for taking the ideas generated by all groups and weaving them together. They’ll analyze and prioritize the ideas from an operational perspective.
- Answer this foundational question and work from here: What do you sell, how do you deliver it, to whom do you deliver it.
- Identify your standards of service. What principles are core to everything you do, are your criteria for making decisions and how you measure service delivery.
- Meet together in your core group once or twice a month to develop ideas. Most people that come to FitzMartin for help with this part just need learning how to create ideas – starting from a white sheet of paper and ending with a solid idea. Once they understand how to do this, they do incredible things with this process!
The first step is to study your customer and prospect groups through the lens of their needs, wants, frustrations, stereotypes of you/your industry, and emotions when they interact with your brand/industry. Start there. Start with the customer and the ideas will fall into place.
Also, do secondary research. See what others inside and outside of your industry are doing. Many of my clients are fixated on finding out what the competitors in their industry are doing and only using that as fuel for ideas. I would encourage you to look outside of your industry…study and secret shop companies you admire and who have had great success. And then find ways to shape what you learn to your business. Conduct surveys via social media, create a poll on LinkedIn, study keywords that are being searched in your industry, listen to conversations on industry forums. These are just a few ways to fuel your thinking!
- Take the foundational thinking, customer information and your secondary research and ask “for each of these nuggets of information, how can I use it to exceed the customer’s expectation and build a favorable perception?”
- Present your ideas to the integration team every few months and let them challenge, feed and implement a few key ideas at a time.
- Continue this cycle, allowing members to roll off their team and new members to join. Maybe you even offer incentives for the best ideas generated…whatever you do, keep the energy and culture of ideas alive!