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Key Market Trends Transforming Sales and Pricing in B2B, Part 2: Awakening to the Importance of Customer Experience

Alex Hoff< Alex Hoff June 1, 2021

Has anyone else noticed how airports (and even airport bathrooms) often have little “how satisfied are you with your experience?” buttons with smiley faces that you can press?

Maybe I travel too much, but they seem to be popping up all over the place these days. Have you ever had a food server at a restaurant mention as you pay your bill that if you only fill out this customer experience survey right here and now, you could win a wonderful prize?

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on Key Market Trends Transforming Sales and Pricing in B2B

These are little listening posts based on events or “moments of truth” as they’re sometimes called – and they are being used to measure and monitor the customer experience (CX). The B2C world has been focused on the customer experience now for some time. Much has been written about how the customer experience – not so much the product or service itself – is the new competitive battleground.

Customer Experience in B2B
Photo credit: HappyOrNot

And, like in many other things, the B2B world lags behind on trends like this.

As Gartner put it, “B2B organizations have fallen behind the seamless, easy and informative standard of B2C digital platforms. As business customers learn and buy more online, unflattering comparisons to advanced digital retail and media companies are unavoidable.”

Forbes (and McKinsey) notes this difference as well in their research, “B2B customer-experience index ratings significantly lag behind those of retail customers. B2C companies typically score in the 65 to 85 percent range, while B2B companies average less than 50 percent. This gap will become even more apparent as B2B customer expectations rise.”

A B2B Shift Toward Customer Experience

But the B2B world is recognizing the need and catching up: the Customer Experience (CX) is quickly becoming a key focus for B2B organizations. Perhaps this also was augmented due to the COVID market disruption.

Salesforce notes in their 4th Edition of their State of the Connected Customer research that, “Four-fifths of customers place the same emphasis on flawless engagement as they do on product quality — the same share as during the economic expansion of 2018. That figure includes 83% of millennials, as well as 85% of business buyers, whose high standards underscore the critical nature of customer experience for B2B and B2C companies alike.”

Customer Experience in B2B
Graph courtesy of Salesforce

More and more B2B organizations are leveraging solutions like Qualtrics and consulting firms like the big strategy firms, as well as more focused ones like The Brookeside Group.

They’re calling on them to help them map their customer journeys, collect data based on little moments of truth in the customer experience, and then utilize that data to coach account managers, identify at-risk customers, and design better customer experiences in general.

Customer Experience is Now Company Business

Recently, one of our advisory board customers (a very large company with a household name) recently reorganized their company around the customer experience because they have realized that’s their business… and that customer experience organization is at the same level as the major P&Ls in the organization.

Understanding, measuring, and optimizing your customer’s experience in B2B is another major trend that B2B organizations need to align with, or risk being left behind by their competitors and industry peers. Pricing is certainly part of that, along with a whole lot more.