Accelerating Value
Accelerating Value

Episode · 1 year ago

Customer Experience: How B2B Can Catch Up to B2C


Customer experience is the key to retention, but you can only deliver it when everyone is working together. 

So, if you’re a new CEO at a company and you realize CX is missing from the culture— what do you do?

The best solution is probably to ask my latest guest, Adam Dorrell, CEO of CustomerGauge. But, in case that’s not an option…I asked him for you and he was nice enough to share the secrets to delivering phenomenal customer experience.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How B2B can deliver customer experience just as well as B2C
  • How to create a culture of customer experience
  • How to think about NPS and your tech stack for customer experience 

Keep connected with Accelerating Value on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.  

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Accelerating Value in your favorite podcast player.

Today. Every budget approval is an investment deal. If you're a marketer, sales or business leader, you had to promise to deliver value and impact. Writing the wave to get there is hard enough. Finding your way through the storm is even harder if you're looking for that path forward so that you don't wipe out. You've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Hi everybody, this is Mark Stue with accelerating value. We are here, I think, with another very, very cool podcast coming at you. As you know, we look at value, we look at what it takes to identify, accelerate, to prove the value that you're creating, to defend it, to invest in it, and one of the most important areas of investment today is in your customer experience. This is a very important but none and non trivial, but also really difficult area for a lot of people to wrap their head around, and I am with Adam Darrell who, I think it's say, it's safe to say that this you're probably one of the authorities on this, on this whole area. He's coming to us from a little cabin in Denmark, so this is actually very cool. I always like these somewhat random locations and he he actually lives and works in Holland, as companies in Holland though. Welcome, Adam, Hi Mok is qreat to be on today. Thanks, thanks, and welcome to meal. You Bet so. Let's let's start here at the very beginning. And by the way, guys, there's a whole ebook that we're going to be linking to at the bottom of this podcast you can have exclusive early access to. I have read it. It is fulsome it has a lot of great information in it. Some of it will kind of give you a little bit of Angina, but but nevertheless it's, I think, extremely well supported and gets to the heart of the matter. So, Adam, what is the state of the overall be to be customer experience market these days? I mean, have have we and we come as far as the rhetoric would suggest, or do we still have a long way ago? Bah, I'm all come pretty that's a really good question to start with. You know, let's on. Let's some pick this a bit. I mean customer experiences being around full lot of it, probably about ten to fifteen years, and his current state, you know, net from to score, which was really the big push towards customer experience has been around since two thousand and three. So it's a kind of a sulky teenager,...

...if you think about it, just coming of age. And customer experience has been quite mature in the BC market. But I'm sure you know, like me, you're dealing with many be to be organizations and and and you know gets a bit more complicated. You've got multiple contacts in the in each business. Frankly, you know, you're dealing with up two million dollar accounts. So it's a different animal to be Toc and so the world of be tob customer experience, or account experience as we call it, it's really just it's just starting out. It's a toddler and there's so much stuff that the BB world can learn from BBC and we've tried to put that in the book and yeah, that's what I'd love to get into today. We've basically mapped out a journey for customers to go on to become experts in this. When we talk about B to be customer experience, a lot of the research that I've seen for quite some time really points to the fact that issues around confidence and trust and risk and risk mitigation due diligence, that kind of thing really dominate the experience, particular early on. Yeah, and did you find that to be the case in your research as well? How's that coming? Well, I think it's. I mean, that really gets into some of the issues that the plays with her with the customers of play. I mean, yeah, that's there. What, once you've peeled back, be on you to fi figuring out what your customers want to talk about that. There was absolutely these issues, mark, and I think you put your finger on it. It's really all about trust. You know, it's having mutual trust between supplier and customer, and the more trust you can sort of manufact you, if you like, more understanding. You know that's a you get better retention and better growth rates and you know that that often dictates all fin you multiple these days. If you get that right, you can really make a big difference. Yeah, I know. It's probably one of the most powerful things I ever heard on this was probably about ten years ago and we were talking about awareness, confidence and trust is being the three legs of brand, right, rand, reputation? Yeah, and that this this particular person made at the distinction between confidence and trust, which is something that a lot of times conversationally we merge together. The confidence is, I believe that you can drive that car really fast. Trust is, I believe that you can drive that car really fast with me in the seat and not kill me, right, and and that is a I thought a really that was pretty profound actually. And there's a there's a lot of times that we work with people, customers, vendors, friends, whatever, that we acknowledge their competence but we don't trust them very much. Right, and likewise people can be incredibly trustworthy and... something less than fully competent, right, and so it's these kinds of factors and I was I was really intrigued and reading your research right, because even though you didn't address some of the stuff directly, it was sort of like all throughout. Yeah, yeah, and I think dry. I think it really does come down it's about I'd let me let me tell you what I think. I think it's the most shocking start in this which is not it's even before you get to customer experience. You know only about half of the businesses that we surveyed and there was something like getting over eight hundred businesses we surveyed. So it's a big tone of business on this. Only about half of them really understand what their retention rate is, you know, and less than fifty percent actually measure their attention rate thoroughly. And you know I'm in the SASS business mark and you know we come for this, I mean this is this is our meat and drink, figuring out how a customers are being retained. But it's still shocking to me the bit, to be well, that this is a mystery to most organization. So even before you can start to work, and issues of trust, you know, they were just not enough metrics out there that people can basis on. And why do you think that is? Well, I actually I pinned on something I call the acquisition addiction. I mean, don't get me wrong, there's nothing but nothing wrong with growing your account base by by bringing in new customers, but to do it a blindly and and without thinking about retention, when you might as well just be filling up a leaky bucket. And what I think it's interesting. You know, is out there. It's a it's so easy these days to spend money on paper, click and googled and linked in all these other organizations make it really easy for you to see what your conversion rate is that spend money. The trouble is it's expensive and to acquire. And then that's the main focus. It's not a sexy to hold onto customers and you know that's that's why there's just not enough focus on the retention side. But, like I said, if you're in the SAS business, well, that's our we can drink. That's how we really have to take care of the back end. So maybe organizations are moving more towards a sort of subscription basis and getting more used to it. But right now, well, fifty percent of the companies are not doing it right and now you feel like it's a matter of focus, as you just said, or there is there something technical in the stack that is not able to deliver it. Right now, I think it's more of a culture. Is She mark? Yeah, it's. You know, there's there's there are a lot of solutions out there that you can get started on measuring customer experience. You know, there's no in no way, there's no magic bullet. You can just get better at better and doing it and then you got to figure out builder by you know, Customer Gage is a great solution, which is a fantastic way to help people save time and money. But at the end of the day you've got to have the culture right in the business. You've got to want to have a better customer experience to retain your customers. And then you unpick it, you're like, okay, what do we do? Well, we better measure that promoter, for example. That's a really simple way of doing it, and then we...

...better get the responses in from customers and then, Hey, if we close the loop on the issues that we have and we can start improving it, and then it's rinse and repeat. But it's a cultural issue of getting there. Once you once you have that vision, then getting stuff in the stack is relatively uncomplicated. But it's that that vision and that normally comes from the CEO. And one of the shocking things is, by the way, is that often the top of the company, the Sea Suite, think that they've got it all sorted but as it goes down through the organization, you know it's it's sort of like blocked by middle managers who, frankly, find it hard to do and the other side is if they're getting negative responses, they never want to push that upstairs. You know, it's like Turkey's voting for Thanksgiving or something like that, and it's not a popular thing. Yeah, no, I I think that you're exactly right about that. People, you know, one of the things that we talk a lot about, when we prove, when we meet with sea sweet members, is a you know, you're fully fifty percent of this at an minimum, and if you haven't sat down with your team's and laid out the rules of the game and say, Hey, this is the game you're playing, is how you score points, this is how you get the penalty box, is what demerit looks like. You know, I mean that type that type of thing, then you're not. You haven't. You can't just assume that they're going to read your mind. I couldn't agree more. Mark, you've really got that tape. So how do we provide more clarity of purpose and and direction and program around us, given the confusion and the market? Well, there's a few steps that companies can take it. As you mentioned, the book that we published, which is the state of customer experience and be to be, and it's a really good place to start because it provides a sort of a playbook for organizations to go through and then figure out where they are in that journey. You know, the first thing you've got to really got to establishes is it worth doing? Is it worth investing the the time at our organization to do this? And you can quantify that. We've quantified that. We've shown that companies that put effort into this have higher net promoter scores and higher retention rates. So you can literally put dollars against them. So that's the number one thing. You've got to want to take one to go on that journey or you've got to want to improve it, and we find that there are some relatively easy things that organizations can do, for example just to set targets on response rates or closing the loop times. This is even before you get to net promoter just doing the basics of that can really make it make an impact. That's a very simple things that any organizations can take steps on, and then it's just a question of it's a rating from there. You know, as I was preparing for this conversation, one of the questions that a colleague on Linkedin specifically asked me to ask you in this regard is, when you think...

...about net promoter score, are you a fan of the score itself, or do you see the most of the value being all the pieces of net promotor score or that's a really good question and that's a you know, that's like almost like a religious argument that I'm right. It probably go very political about what I can tell you. Out of the eight hundred companies that we surveyed, forty one percent of them are exclusively using that promoter and the majority are using net promoter in conjunction with other numbers. So that whatever you say, it's just popular out there. Right. What I like about the idea is that it does suggest a standard that's not very prescriptive. It doesn't tell you exactly how to do it. So I much prefer the process involved, about having a systematic way of measuring all of your revenue and doing it multiple times a year with multiple contexts in the business. Frankly, I couldn't care if you use whatever scale you want to make out customers site Seyes. That doesn't matter as unless you're consistent. It just happens that net promoters is becoming more the dominant force. So I say, you know, white push back against it, but I go for an easy life. But it's the journey and the process for me that make the the importance and it's it's like measuring any other metric in your business. You've got to do it consistently and make it part of your company's DNA. Now, that's also one of the big points that you make in this book, right, is that at the end of the day, you can you can know all the stuff, but if you don't actually act. Yeah, that's absolutely right. It's sort of it's just worthless. Yeah, and what we found at this is really interesting mark, is that the faster the companies act on the on the responses, to be honest, whether it's good or bad. I mean it makes sense to jump on something. If you get a poor response from a customer, you have a chance to rescue them. But what we found from the status it's just as important to go back and thank people, to give you responses, because that that comes back to your point you're making earlier run. That manufactures the trust between people. It's that, hey, I top them something and they acted on it or they thank me. That's that's great. And for what we know, we know statistically that the companies that close the loop in forty eight hours have a fifty percent higher net promoter score out, so fifty points of difference. It makes it so. This is the way to succeed in business is to close all of your comments quickly. That has the biggest impact in your net promoter score and then, if you believe the metrics and you believe in the literature, your retention rate should follow. So that's that is the easiest way. But again that comes back to my point. You've got to have a culture this willing to do it. You can't have the department for closing the loop with customers. It has to be embedded. You have to take it all the way up to the CEO if necessary, to close that loop. So that's a hard thing for companies to do. Go to get information to the right people. You got to have that information system. But however you do it, that's the simplest way to improve your net promoter... So so let's let's take this and make it kind of real, even though it's going to be a little uncomfortable. So you're a new CEO, you have you've been in the company six months, you've done you're listening tour, you know, you've paid attention and one of the things that you realize is that your your company does not have this culture around customer experience. Agreeing with you that it starts at the top, what are the kind of like the first three steps that you would tell a CEO or CEFO that they need to do in order to turn this around? Oh Man, that's that's a wonderful place to start, mark because you know, most people start thinking about surveying from the bottom. You know, let's get some responses in and figure it out. What I advocate is you turn it around from the top. You say, let's look at our revenue base, let's work down from the top, let's start with our biggest clients and see how much coverage we can get. You know, time us, when we do this as a program we go into our clients, sorry prospect and we do this work and you know, the top twenty accounts that they've got some says, no response from that and that's the first they can see. Yo, goes okay. I don't have a net promoter problem, I've got an engagement problem. I just not I just don't have the trust. I don't have the people in my accounts knowing, knowing who I am, or engaging with me or my crm is is rubbish and that is that's the place to start. And that's nothing even nothing to do with net promoter. It's just a great way of figuring out what your data is like and it's a soft way into it by asking questions what they think. So it's number one. Secondly, do it on a cadence. So you started up, you want to do this at quarterly for a relationship survey or transactionally, whenever the correct touch points are, and then try to, you know, set some targets as you go through and close the loop, because when you close the loop, that starts to I'm you know, that starts to fix problems right there in short order. So those are my tips. Start from the revenue and workdown better than the organization. Do it regularly. You've just diderrate it and close the loop and close the loop fast. You get better at least things over time. At those are the things that were really start. So with the understanding the ultimately, this is a organization wide cultural thing that needs to exist across every function. You still will feel like, did you need an organization who's like hearing the flag very in a very focused way on us met customer success. Would be an easy one, but there you could find others. Customer success is a really great place to start, especially if we're talking about SASS businesses. I think we all understand that and I love the way that customers success teams are really focused on this. Where where I think it goes outside the realm of customer success and you need to start thinking about some other options of the company is for not for fossil for nonsas organizations mark you know all people that...

...don't don't have a hundred percent retention typele sorry, a hundred percent recurring revenue type models, or for those organizations where you've got first you know it's some of your revenue coming from from the very large accounts and that those are the where we I think this account experience model works best where you've got heterogeneous accounts, older style type nonsense businesses that can really make an impact in that. So that's that. Those were I think you can make the biggest impact. I don't know if it really belongs in a kind of a customer experience type module. I think it's certainly sits under somebody who looks after revenue, so a CRRO. It's definitely on that side of the business. That's where we see most success. So one of the so kind of moving it move, doing this slightly, the focus of this slightly onto the idea of a maturity curve right and and your research shows that it's pretty spread out in many ways and that the majority I'm kind of reading now here the majority. You're not setting targets, not closing the loop quickly enough, not tying their experience data to revenue. Cannot Produce an Roli from their program this actually sounds a lot like the problems that afflicked marketing in general, as well as some other areas of the company where the impact on the business is very time lagged, right where it takes time and and it kind of ripples across a number of different relationships. Telling I think that what would probably help a lot of people here big time is a story of someone who's really doing it really well. Right. It's taking all that into account. You you don't have to name the company, but do you have somebody that you're you have in mind? Yeah, I do. I think you could actually also name the company. Was One of these clients. Guess you gave it a world to this year. Having the most mature program so I can cool this out. This is DHL's supply chain. You know, the company Tich all with the yellow vans everywhere. Well, part of the business that they have is really focused on the supply chain part of the business, the sort of business proceing outsource, outsourcing, and I think these guys have really taken it to to another level. First of all, it's really embedded in their organization. That right from the top, right from the CEO, who gets to see the results every quarter and has even been known to pick up the phone and surprise customers with the hey, I saw your comment on that. You know which that has a ripple effect in the organization is you say. But what I like about this is it is as incredible focus on two areas. Number one, customer engagement.

So they really are very careful about making sure that they nominate the right people in each of their accounts by revenue, and this is so successful that they get a sixty percent response rate, and most of that is driven by email. So they end up some reminders, but a sixty percent response rate from there, from from contacts, is phenomenal. It's the highest that we see out there and that gives them like an eighty five percent account coverage every quarter, maybe even a bit higher. So they're covering, like you know, nearly all of their revenue every quarter. And then, once they get the response in, they have a very rigorous way of closing the loop and they aim to close everything in forty eight hours. So they're today, I think, the last and they did at the last quarter. They they got a hundred percent close loop response, which is fantastic. That means they went back to every one of those accounts who could so context at a commented, they thank them or they started to solve the problem, and this is because they've got a very process oriented solution. It's very well integrated sales force, for example, how they're doing this, but it's it's really driven from the top and the result of this is that the able to drive better up cells in the organizations that they work with, but also to to get referrals out of this, because the companies that give a very high score they were able to use as references to grow new business. So I don't know what are a way that they are getting, but they assure me that it's definitely on the positive side and I'm not surprised because that is the best example of organizations. So do it. We try to encourage all of our clients to do this. We have playbooks to do this, but this is the best example and very proud to work with DHL supply chain on that. Now, that's a fantastic example and I think that whatever also really like about it is that it's not, you know, a class excess kind of situation. For sure, their technology, they're they're very technical. Yeah, very you know, they're really technic, but they're not. It's not a classics ASS business. Every one of those installations is different than multi multimillion dollar accounts. Yeah, now, and it's a I think, to you know what, what a lot of people don't realize in these situations is Cak okay, is you you can have you can spend a lot on customer acquisition and have that be completely legitimate, but there is an amoritization of that across time and space and if you lose that customer too quickly, your margin on that original deal rapidly goes to zero, maybe even negative, right, because you go into the deal with a debt. You it took you money to acquire that revenue stream, right, and so you've got to pay that off, so to speak, and that's where, that's where. Not only does the loss of a customer...

...hammer your reputation, or it certainly can hurt your reputation, but it also really hurts your margins. That there's a disproportionately negative impact. They're on margin for sure. And you know what are the things that you and I know for sure is how much money companies that we deal with spend on acquisition, and you know it's regularly, let's just say, twelve months of recurring revenue. That so you got to get a thirteen month contract from a client on average before you start making any money. So the more you can put into retention, and I think you know it's a custom of the successes are fantastic strip to go down and whatever tools you put on a net promoter, doing that properly and figuring out other ways of doing this. You know, if you can lengthen your average contract period by a few months or get a better up cell, that's got to be worth it. And that's when we see that. We see these great, sound organizations out there who are driving, you know, hundred and twenty percent network net revenue retention. They are doing all of these tricks absolutely right. They've got net promoter on their docu sign for examples. A great client, great go to a great customer out there that I've seen and I write about them a lot. They are very proud to talk about their sixty six percent MPs. They have it in there on their website. It's very transparent. They took about it and all the documentations. So you know they're proud about that. They that and I think this will start becoming the mark of a company and what we'll maybe see is, as a CEO has become a bit more savvy about it, they go okay, you're saying that's your net promoter score. Lift the lift the cover. I want to see more about it. What's your response rate? What are you doing that? That okay, I buy that makes sense. So I net promoted might not be perfect, but I predict that it will become much more part of marketings arsenal for many companies as we go forward. Well, I'll say the something want certain customers that we have that use net promoter score from an analytics point of view right. It's too much of an abstraction. So they're working with the data flows that make up the net promoter score. But it comes down to the same idea, right. I mean, at the end of the day, they want to understand how all this is working for them or against them, a case maybe, and how it's being either accelerated in their favor or diminished against them by factors that they don't have control over. It's could be anything from consumer attitudes or customer attitudes about the economy or whatever, all the way to things like eptomer or skive me, a competitor action write competitor comparison. When you when you think about this, you...

...know from a from a competitive point of view, do you have a story where somebody was one of your customers, was really able to leverage net promoter score and everything that that means to beat the pants off of their competition? I think that. I don't think it's a magic bullet mark. I'd love to yeah, I'd love to share with a story that I can have a company that the Moade this thing that they just went they want some business. I've got plenty of evidence that the organizations that we work with talk about their netpromode to score as a way of winning business. As I said, I think you know there are companies out there that are really leading the pack, like Red Hat doc you sign, that shout about this and they make it part of it. I think many more companies doing it as part of the way that they win business to say look, when you've come on board with us, we have a whole quality program to do with our manufacturing process or delivery and we extend that into the customer domain and we're going to look after you. I think this is a just as the infancy. But, for example, we're starting to deal with CPG type organizations, CPG organizations, sorry, which we used to call FMCG. One of our clients is Heineken, for example, and they really start a exploiting the possibilities of putting real time feedback and organ to operational feedback into their channel relationships. Well, this is be to be, but just in a different way. It's the it's the channel that they go to market with. It's they're by major retailers and their catering partners and bars and big, big chains like this. They want to make sure that they've got a real time and regular feedback from that from the channel partners. Now they don't have to go on a big acquisition spree because their long term partners, but they're looking for as increased market share or or show of wallet in those partners and by getting more of a feedback loop on that that they're starting to exploit that. This is relatively new because they've had plenty of data for years come buying the consumer space, but now they beginning to exploit that be to be relationship. So would you see an element of transformation that's going on in the business? You know what this is not be to be, but it actually carries one of the reasons why I'm going to mention it is that it has some of the same dynamics at work. So very high end hotel and hospitality, particularly post codd right, is an insurance play, right. So this is the way they actually self describe. So, you know, people haven't been able to go anywhere for a while. They're they're, you know, have a lot of hopes and dreams kind of...

...pent up around going somewhere and having a good time. And so these these different hotels that kind of make up this strata of the hotel and hospitality business have seen their business just skyrocket, even though the tariff to get in is quite high because their customer experience is so widely understood to be excellent that they are defeating other choices that their customers could make, even even in a premium, right, because people want a sure thing, right, they want to know that when they show up at this resort or this hotel that, yeah, cost me a pretty penny to do it, but my family and I are guaranteed to have a splendid experience. That's a that's a very, very interesting example of customer experience being used competitively. Yeah, that I think it's a really good example. Mark. I mean with all time poor these days and you've got to make the right choice. It's nothing more embarrassing about sending out to a place of your family which in your across the street, so I tell you. But again, but this is most of the that linustry has has, has had many years of experience in using a customer experience and they're doing a great job in some areas. And, you know, to be honest, I think it's a great example because that the high end places that have that have really learned from their customers are able to charge them a premium over the rank and file, kind of like, you know, the holiday destinations, and that's the that's the learning, I think for be to be businesses is that get customer experience right, you can well maybe not charge a premium, but you can keep your customers for on Gut and get better recommendations, which helps your acquisition flow and you can grow faster. And that's how that's a that's you know, and that maybe that's a pritiant summary of the book, and that's really what we're trying to do. We're trying to give a breakdown of the things you need to do to get x right so you can grow faster. We quantify by how much you can do it. So that's that's really what we set out to do. Fantastic conversation, Adam. Just and guys, seriously, we're going to put the the link to this ebook at the bottom of the podcast when it publishes, and I really encourage you to download it again. There's going to be parts of it that you know are going to be the happiest reading you've ever seen. Okay, but but we all need to come face to face with the truth. That's the first step to to getting better right, to really improving our situation, and what we're really talking about here, I think in a nutshell, is sales is I love your money, and the rest of it customer experiences.

I love you. I cared about you, and so let's let's both are important. You can't have, you know, one without the other. Is is is not a not a winning proposition, but you've got to you've got a really ultimately, at the end of the day, build that relationship and show people that you care, and I think that Adam and his team have done probably one of the most comprehensive jobs that I've ever seen in addressing and describing this issue and how you get out of a hole. How do you how do you move forward? Thanks, Adam all. It's absolutely my pleasure, of Mall, and I'm just going to build on what you said to say really what customer experiences is all about. I'm loving your money, I don't want to keep taking it. Let's make it about both of our while to do it. I've loved being on it to take mark. Thank you so much. I really appreciate the opportunity to do this. Take care. The sooner you can optimize your marketing spend, the quicker you can start delivering clear, measurable value to Your Business. That's exactly where business GPS from. Proof analytics can help learn more at proof analytics DOT AI. You've been listening to accelerating value, where raw conversations about the journey to business impact help you weather the storm ahead. To make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time,.

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