Complex customer buying journeys and disconnected channel partner networks are preventing B2B companies from delivering the personalised customer experiences that drive loyalty and growth, according to new research from Accenture.
The ‘B2B Customer Experience 2017’ study from Accenture Strategy surveyed 1,350 sales and customer service executives from B2B organisations around the world to understand how well companies are serving customers. The study found that the urgency to grow indirect channel partner networks and monetise customer experiences is disconnected from today’s operational reality.
- Only 21% of sales and customer service executives surveyed say they have total control over their organisation’s sales networks and overall customer experience
- Most customers are already 57% through the buying process before they first engage with a company representative
- 90% never respond to cold outreach
- 61% of all B2B transactions now start online
- 71% of B2B executives also say customers increasingly want B2C (fast response times, consistent experiences across multiple channels, and availability 24/7)
- 49% admit they are failing to deliver the cutting edge and highly relevant experiences customers crave
- 97% B2B executives say that indirect sales channels are critical to their business
- Only 21% have total control over their organisation’s sales partner networks
Mark Gaylard, Managing Director, Advanced Customer Strategy, Accenture Strategy said, “UK B2B leaders know that customer experience is the gateway to growth and have increasingly relied on channel partners to help them deliver. But many have been flying blind. Distracted by building extensive partner networks to increase selling opportunities, they’ve missed the critical balance of picking and managing partners who can leverage customer insight and use it to deliver better experiences. To regain control, B2B leaders will orchestrate their sales ecosystem by seeing partners as an extension of their business and empower them with customer insights, coaching and support. Only then can they fully tap their connected growth potential.”
To deliver the customer experiences that drive connected growth, B2B companies must rethink how they integrate and collaborate with partners. They should consider:
- Pivoting from partner management to ‘ecosystem orchestration’ – Companies can regain control over customer experience by considering indirect partners as extensions of their own business and critical enablers of customer value. Intentionally teaming with a select network of partners and ensuring they are well supported can significantly improve customer experience.
- Supporting partner priorities – In an indirect channel ecosystem, understanding the needs and preferences of end customers must take priority. Delivering the best customer experiences requires connected insights. Feedback mechanisms and data sharing are essential to building trust and understanding how to create new value for customers. Providing partners with something they value – such as leads, resources, customer events and sales coaching – will encourage continuous customer information sharing.
- Adopting a new currency for connected growth – Customer data management, analytics and social listening technologies can help companies deliver the relevant and personalised experiences that customers crave. Investing in these technologies and integrating them with core customer experience capabilities, such as closed-loop feedback, is a solid way to measure performance.
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