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Last week Gallup released a guide that offers some unique perspectives on customer-centricity, including actionable advice. The Guide to Customer Centricity: Analytics and Advice for B2B Leaders focuses on how brands can accelerate growth through listening to and acting on the voice of their customers.
The guide is based on in-depth interviews with hundreds of thousands of customers and analysis from measuring the engagement of nearly 18 million customers.
Ed O’Boyle, Global Practice Leader, Gallup, talked to Loyalty360 about the comprehensive guide.
How important is listening to customers and acting on Voice of the Customer insights en route to implementing or enhancing a customer-centric company?
While it is important to listen to customers, it is more critical to act on what they tell you. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than to be asked a question, give and answer and then not see anything change. Most customers know you can’t do everything they want. But a clear communication plan back to accounts is required in a quality VOC program.
From your research, how would you characterize the success companies are achieving through listening and VoC?
It varies greatly, but I would say most VoC programs fail to achieve their objective – which, in my opinion, is retention and growth of the business.
What are the opportunities that stem from that?
If only 29% of your competitor’s customers are engaged, then you can increase market share by engaging customers.
What are some things B2B companies can do to improve customer engagement?
Know their customers’ businesses better than the customer, bring them ideas that work for their businesses, and ensure that when something goes wrong you solve that problem in a timely manner.
How does a company go from playing “defense” to playing “offense” in this environment?
Take time to get out of the day-to-day operations and focus on the future. See that future through where the customer is going and then adapt your business to meet those new needs.
How important is mobile in the future of B2B marketing?
While that answer depends on the category and offerings of the B2B firm, in general, more information given to customers through channels they choose is a good thing. The trick is to make sure your marketing messages do not intrude with the work you are doing, but to find the right balance.
CX is seen as a major differentiator for brands today. Does this hold true for B2B brands as well?
Yes. The way B2B brands are experienced are different, but the importance is very much the same. While somewhat obvious, it bears saying: The quality of the current experience is the highest driver of likelihood to continue doing business. You can’t be in the growth conversation without a strong history of delivering on your promises.
What was your biggest surprise (positive or negative) from the report?
The biggest positive is that companies can grow if they can establish a futuristic relationship with their customers. Biggest negative, that despite increased efforts, most customers are frustrated with the state of business they are doing with their B2B suppliers.
What was your biggest takeaway from the report?
Customer engagement is critical to retention, impact is critical to growth.
What is your assessment of only 29% of B2B customers being fully engaged?
It’s due to three things: Most people focus on tactics that satisfy customers and not the strategy of relationship building to engage customers; companies get complacent due to long-term contracts; and companies rely on information from their own people to tell them how things are going. In short, they focus on the short term and not deeper relationship building.
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