B2B Executives Expand Customer Experience Investments

Like their B2C counterparts, B2B executives plan to invest in technology and talent that will elevate their customer experience initiatives.
Customer Experience

B2B executives dedicate great time and effort to developing growth and retention initiatives. But, in recent years, leaders have begun to recognize that delivering differentiated customer experiences, much like their B2C counterparts, may be the key to long-term loyalty. Yet, while many companies understand the value behind such initiatives, most still have extensive gaps in their customer experience strategies and execution capabilities.

Accenture Strategy's recent "2015 B2B Customer Experience Report" examines the current B2B landscape and how CX continues to influence strategic development. Researchers surveyed 1,350 global customer experience, sales, and service executives from 16 industries to grasp their outlook on the importance of customer experience within their businesses, how well they're delivering CX, the benefits they've generated, and the challenges they've encountered. Overall, 86 percent of B2B executives now recognize customer experience as a strategic priority, which has inspired many to allocate larger budgets and pay more attention to establishing key CX capabilities. Despite these efforts, however, most companies still find it difficult to generate significant returns from their CX investments at this time.

The following statistics explore how the Leaders (23 percent), Strivers (57 percent), and Laggards (20 percent) polled perceive B2B customer experience and how their subsequent actions impact CX success:

  • Seventy-five percent of executives think changes in customers' behaviors and attitudes have a major impact on their sales and service efforts. Therefore, 74 percent believe that customer experience-related considerations will ultimately play an even larger role in their overall corporate strategy in two years' time.
  • Overall, executives say that delivering a differentiated sales and service customer experience links directly to business results (78 percent), and provides a competitive advantage (77 percent). As a result, customer experience management budgets have significantly increased for many within the past year (45 percent).
  • Many companies struggle to deliver successful customer experiences because their directors and managers have too little time to dedicate to CX initiative (48 percent), processes for achieving the optimal CX aren't formalized (46 percent), and C-level executives view other objectives as higher priorities (46 percent).
  • When it comes to new entrants and disruptors within their respective markets, executives say customers are becoming more open to engaging in services and offerings from these new entrants (68 percent), new entrants use customer experience as their key differentiator (67 percent), and their company is considering or already acting as a new entrant in different industries outside their 'traditional' scope (67 percent).
  • Leaders are twice as likely as Strivers (62 percent versus 31 percent)to say they're very well prepared to achieve their CX objectives from a skills, tools, and resource standpoint. Leaders are also more likely than Strivers (65 percent versus 58 percent) to understand that they'll need to reinvent the service and support they provide to business customers to keep up with customer experience expectations in the coming years.
  • Because Leaders are more convinced their digital investments will give them the competitive advantage (44 percent versus 23 percent), they typically allocate a larger portion of their CX budgets to technology-enabled customer experiences than Strivers (67 percent versus 41 percent).

Key takeaway: Companies that wish to advance their customer experience efforts must first invest internally, for Leaders position leadership, internal collaboration, and balanced skill-building at the core of their CX strategies. Many leaders have established a centralized C-level function that directly manages several functional areas (37 percent), which promotes internal alignment, for instance. Most importantly, leaders aim to create balance among employees by both re-training existing staff members and hiring fresh talent (47 percent). Leaders understand that current employees offer an advantage because they are already familiar with company policies, while new hires bring fresh perspective to the table, thereby empowering the entire company to grow and acclimate alongside the evolving customer landscape. While Strivers and Laggards continue to pursue such internal goals, as well, Leaders have made it their priority to strengthen their employee base, for they understand that an investment in their team translates to an investment in the overall customer experience, as well.