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A CX Snapshot: 2019 Insights from B2B Organizations

AvatarRichard Boehmcke | August 26, 2019


Photo by Austin Distel 

Photo by Ambrose Chua 

Originating in the tech sector, customer experience (CX) is now a hot topic in the B2B space—so hot, in fact, that many B2B CX experts believe it will define their companies’ competitive strategies in the coming years.

Gartner found that over 80% of organizations expected to compete mainly based on CX in 2019. A separate research report by CustomerThink revealed that 74% of organizations with CX initiatives believe customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020.

If you’ve ever felt frustrated because you sent out yet another marketing email that missed the mark, this information shouldn’t come as a surprise. Organizations can no longer assume they’re achieving “customer delight” by relying on traditional digital marketing tactics alone. Instead, companies in the B2B space must focus on building real, long-lasting relationships.

Part of this includes CX initiatives that are focused on tearing down walls and reducing friction in the customer buying process, usually by adopting new customer platforms and developing capabilities that mirror the success stories from the B2C space. But a B2B CX initiative also requires transformational changes to your entire business operation, not just new technologies. Most importantly, it requires buy-in throughout your organization, starting at the highest level.

Forrester’s Snapshot of B2B CX Programs

A recent snapshot of survey results from Forrester’s CX NYC 2019 conference shows where B2B companies stand in the battle for CX dominance. The survey questions were asked regarding where organizations stood on four core CX capabilities: business case development for CX, customer success management, CX measurement, and insights development.

In reference to these four core capabilities, there were three survey results worth mentioning. First, it was immediately clear that B2B leaders believe CX measurement programs can yield actionable insights for their organizations. Of surveyed respondents, 40 out of 62 (about 65%) felt confident in this regard.

Second, Forrester learned that most B2B leaders still lack a strong business case for CX in their organizations. In that session, 44 out of 73 respondents (about 60%) didn’t have a model to prove that customer experience was good for their organizations—even though they did have a hypothesis for why CX was important.

Finally, and despite a majority of attendees believing their CX programs can provide real value, most of the conference’s attendees say they haven’t fully bought into a CX or customer success program yet. Only 29 out of 68 (about 43%) of respondents say their businesses have established a customer success program. An even smaller percentage of respondents, 14 out of 40 (35%), say they know how to apply customer success to their business; most do not.

Overall, the Forrester survey showed that CX and customer success management (CSM) have gained popularity among B2B companies, and that most of the B2B leaders at the conference believe CX and CSM have value. However, very few of them have taken steps to fully implement a CX program at their companies, nor have they developed a compelling business case for doing so.

Building Mature B2B CX Practices

Despite a lot of excitement around CX in the B2B space, most CX groups are only at the beginning stages of their measurement programs. In essence, these measurement programs are living in a vacuum and aren’t lining up with other business objectives. To solve this problem, CX leaders must link their measurements to cross-functional customer journeys and tie the resulting metrics to company and customer success. Specific CX metrics targets must then be shared with employees so that they may begin working toward them.

Building a business case for CX is also challenging, but there are two categories of tactics CX leaders can use to do it. First, CX leaders must encourage decision-makers to take action by tying metrics to the things they care about, such as money. Decision-makers want to hear about how CX can contribute to company revenue. Plenty of studies have already produced evidence that it does.

You can use talking points like these to get their attention:

  • 86% of buyers will pay more for better customer experience (Forbes).
  • CX leaders outperformed laggards in the stock market by 79.9% over 8 years (Professional Planning Forum).
  • From 2010 to 2015, CX leaders had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) that was 14 percentage points higher than laggards (Forrester).

Second, Forrester recommends CX leaders test the relationships between CX metrics and regular business metrics before developing a model. This is a powerful way to estimate how improving specific customer journeys can contribute directly to key business objectives.

In regard to the buy-in of CX at your organization (and your own willingness to adopt a program), it’s important to note that the vast majority of CX NYC 2019 conference attendees who had a customer success program said their customer delight programs provided value (22 out of 25, or 88%) and contributed to customer retention, customer enrichment, and the longevity of customer relationships.

Final Thoughts

If you’re struggling with any of these CX challenges at your company, it may be time to reevaluate how your team approaches its customer experience initiative. Creating customer delight is no easy task, but developing a more mature program could be essential as the field continues to become more competitive.

Of course, it can also be an issue of communication and buy-in. If you’re seeing success in your ability to surprise and delight customers, you may simply need to prove how those wins contribute to the success of the company as a whole. By proving to decision-makers how CX metrics relate to core business metrics, you can encourage more buy-in at your organization and stay competitive.