When it comes to B2B customer experience most firms still have a lot of work to do – Interview with Nick Hague of B2B International

Work to do

Today’s interview is with Nick Hague, Director and Chairman of B2B International, a leading global B2B market research and consulting specialist, and author of a couple of books. Nick joins me today to talk about his new book that he has co-authored with Paul Hague, his father: B2B Customer Experience: A Practical Guide to Delivering Exceptional CX, how it came about and what we can learn from it.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – The potholes of scaling customer support and service – Interview with Michael Redbord of HubSpot – and is number 265 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my interview with Nick:

B2B Customer Experience: A Practical Guide to Delivering Exceptional CX

  • B2B Customer Experience: A Practical Guide to Delivering Exceptional CX has just been published.
  • A large amount of the focus in customer experience is on B2C.
  • Obvious need for a book that addressed B2B customer experience and acted as a practical guide for those working in B2B companies.
  • B2B accounts for a huge amount of economic activity and, as such, presents a huge opportunity for CX improvement.
  • As a consumer, it is easy for me to take my business elsewhere if I am not satisfied. In B2B CX it’s not always that simple as the transaction is often way more complicated, involves many more decision-makers, could involve a contract and can take a lot longer.
  • However, what is the same is that all businesses are looking to deliver against customer needs.
  • Moreover, expectations are being set in B2C markets and are are influencing B2B decision making.
  • Leading B2B companies do realise there is value in upping their experience and a few, leading companies are already using experience and service to differentiate themselves.
  • Listen and understand first.
  • The process is the same but it is just a different context.
  • Don’t just do things. Talk to your customers first. Not like the industrial equipment hire company that spent around a million pounds developing a loyalty scheme that their customers weren’t signing up for it. Only when they had spent all of that money did they then go and speak to their customers to find out what they liked, didn’t like etc .
  • These insights and principles apply to all firms of all sizes.
  • Nick believes that when a company grows beyond roughly 50 employees then they can then, naturally, start to lose touch with their customers.
  • At this point, departments, processes and functions start to be formed within the business and that can start to put a bit more distance between them and their customers or, at least, between the key decision makers and their customers.
  • Nick cites Molson Coors as a great example of a B2B company that is really putting experience at the heart of their strategy. They started small, eight years ago and focused on the UK only to start with. They achieved success by listening to their customers and then responding to their concerns. They are now rolling out that approach across the whole firm.
  • Places where B2B firms may find some quick wins (obvious improvement areas) include:
    • Onboarding of new customers – first impressions last.
    • Delivery – are you delivering on time, in full and every time?
    • Credit control or invoicing – how accurate and timely is your invoicing?
  • Molson Coors also saw that the biggest driver of customer loyalty was their people, their sales and account managers.
  • Southwest Airlines know this. They also know that it is not just a question of training people, it’s about recruiting the right type of people in the first instance.
  • Southwest Airlines don’t recruit anyone if they’ve worked for another airline before as they tend to come with too many ingrained behaviours. They like recruiting hairdressers, for example, because it’s all about being able to communicate with people.
  • Research by Google shows that up to 70 percent of B2B buyers use the Internet to search for information prior to contacting the supplier – Zero Moment of Truth.
  • B2B companies need to start tuning in to creating and delivering an omnichannel experience.
  • Forester stat/report that estimates that only about 10 percent of B2B sales in 2017 in the US is via e-commerce. There is a long way to go but thinbgs are starting to change.
  • To accomplish this, B2B companies have to think about how did they establish trust at a distance.
  • Content is king.
  • We know that B2B buyers are decision makers. But, they are also consumers and we don’t leave our emotions at home when we go to work. And, that’s the reason so many B2B companies fail to deliver even acceptable customer experiences, it’s because they believe their customers are just different from those who do shop in the high street or online at Amazon.
  • Be brilliant at the basics. You don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary or extraordinary or anything additional, it could just be that you can stand out by focusing on making things really easy for your customer.
  • Check out and grab a copy of B2B Customer Experience: A Practical Guide to Delivering Exceptional CX.

About Nick

Nick HagueNick Hague is a founder of B2B International. After graduating in geology from Manchester University, Nick joined his father (Paul; co-author) when B2B International was formed. Over the last two decades Nick has made his name as an expert in customer experience market research. He is chairman of B2B International and has co-authored the bestselling book on market research – Market Research In Practice.

Check out and grab a copy of B2B Customer Experience: A Practical Guide to Delivering Exceptional CX, check out the work that B2B International do, connect with him on LinkedIn here and say Hi to him on Twitter @Nick_HagueB2B.




Thanks to Pixabay for the image.


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