Five steps to avoiding B2B CX failure in 2023by
Having outlined the top five reasons for business-to-business customer experience programme failure recently, Maurice FitzGerald now takes a look at the projects to prioritise to increase the likelihood of success.
I spent a lot of December outlining the top five reasons for B2B CX failure. And we all have to face facts: the methodology we have all been following for the last 20 years does not work - or at least it is a long way from producing the results we want and need. We have to try something radically different and I now want to provide you with the five-step path to success. I hope you will find each of the five easy to understand and to implement.
- Get sponsorship for your work.
- Complete, continuous, connected data.
- Establish three to five strategic priorities.
- Professionalise implementation.
- Communicate using the language and metrics recipients use every day.
1. Get sponsorship for your work
Without the sponsorship of a senior leader who cares deeply about your work, you will never get the people, money and other resources you need to be successful. To minimise risk, your sponsor should be either the CEO or someone who reports directly to them. To ensure meaningful support, you need to prove that your work and proposed investments provide both short-term and long-term financial benefits. We have all spent years trying to persuade potential sponsors that CX metrics like NPS that are based on samples of customers provide such proof, and it has not worked. We have to switch to using the financial and operational metrics that our sponsors already use every day to support our investment requests. More on this below.
2. Complete, continuous, connected data
The data you use to get sponsorship, to create a strategy, to implement your plans, and to communicate progress has to have three attributes:
- It must cover 100% of your customers, not just the small samples of feedback from selected individuals provided by surveys. Using operational data from your IT systems is the best way to do this.
- Only continuously-available data can give you the insights about improving or deteriorating trends that you need to monitor progress and prevent contract renewal disasters. Occasionally-available survey data cannot possibly give the necessary insights.
- The data used must be connected to the everyday realities of the teams in your company. Your teams are already measured on operational data, so please use that and abandon using survey results to create the linkage.
It's absolutely doable to make this data-centric transformation in about three months. To try it is to love it.
3. Establish three to five strategic priorities
In short, anyone who says “Here are our 10 strategic priorities for 2023” simply does not have a strategy. Aim to have just three corporate strategic initiatives for CX for the next year. This will provide clarity, prevent overlap, and make it much easier to express them in terms that will facilitate sponsorship and investment. If you complete one, you can select and launch a new one.
Please remember to give these initiatives names that describe their results, rather than mysterious code names like ‘The Diamond project’. Prefer names like 'Take Annual Recurring Revenue from $370 million to $400 million’, or perhaps ‘The $400 million ARR project’ for short.
4. Professionalise implementation
Ensure your project managers all have PMP or PRINCE2 certification, for a start. Don't assume that someone who has been implementing projects for the last ten years knows what they are doing. (I used to be one of those people and I did not really know what I was doing. Then I learned.)
Run project kickoff meetings face-to-face to ensure that the interdependencies between the different project workstreams all get addressed from the start. The people who have to drive execution of the plan must be the ones who create the plan. Run weekly workstream calls and overall project calls. Report progress to your sponsor regularly. Above all, monitor and prove progress using reliable operational data that covers 100% of your customers on a continuous basis.
5. Communicate using the language and metrics recipients use every day
Abandon using survey data and metrics as your primary method of communicating CX progress. While surveys can provide useful information on an occasional basis, they are useless for continuous communication that respects the schedules your various corporate teams use to communicate progress on other fronts.
For example, if your logistics people publish a operational report every Friday, ensure the most important customer-related operational metric is highlighted. By ‘most important’ I of course mean the one that you have proven to have the strongest relationship with customer retention. If one of your three strategic initiatives includes logistics, the primary metric you use to track progress must be on the logistics report too. Everyone must use the same language and metrics to describe success with customers.
That's it. These five points should provide you five excellent B2B CX resolutions for 2023. Great data is at the heart of all five. If you have not already centralised the thousands of customer-relevant data points from your IT systems and prioritised the most relevant ones for action, you know who to call . . .
This piece adapted from an arricle that Maurice originally published on LinkedIn.
Retired VP of Customer Experience for HP and HPE's $4B software division.
Author of four books on customer strategy, all available on Amazon.
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