Bridging the B2B Customer Experience Chasm: Addressing the Talent Gap

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Customer Strategy
Customer Experience
My colleague Anna Papachristos recently wrote an insightful article about the findings in Accenture Strategy's 2015 B2B Customer Experience report. The report underscored how despite the understanding of executives about the value that B2B customer experience initiatives can generate, the vast majority of B2B companies are missing out on revenue growth opportunities due to poor performance. In a follow-up interview I conducted with Robert Wollan, senior managing director, sales and customer services, Accenture Strategy, Wollan noted that one of the biggest shortcomings in B2B customer experience programs is a talent shortage that prevents such efforts from reaching their potential.

My colleague Anna Papachristos recently wrote an insightful article about the findings in Accenture Strategy's 2015 B2B Customer Experience report. The report underscored how despite the understanding of executives about the value that B2B customer experience initiatives can generate, the vast majority of B2B companies are missing out on revenue growth opportunities due to poor performance. In a follow-up interview I conducted with Robert Wollan, senior managing director, sales and customer services, Accenture Strategy, Wollan noted that one of the biggest shortcomings in B2B customer experience programs is a talent shortage that prevents such efforts from reaching their potential.Wollan shared with me that whenever Accenture provides customer experience consulting to B2B clients, it starts by identifying ways in which the company can be disruptive within its industry and provide a differentiated customer experience. But too often, says Wollan, the customer experience talent gap rears its ugly head.

"The lack of talent when you launch a (customer experience) program might be the single greatest risk point (B2B) companies face," says Wollan. A shortage in required skills "can create a false start if a company doesn't have the right talent to transform the customer experience -- even those with the right intentions and funding."

Indeed, just 32 percent of the respondents to Accenture study believe they have the requisite skills, tools, and resources necessary to deliver the desired customer experience.

As Wollan sees it, the skills shortage is most acute at both the leadership level and at the execution level for B2B customer experience programs. This includes infusing new skills with existing talents, such as bringing on people with needed digital marketing skills to complement incumbent analog marketers.

To succeed with customer experience initiatives, both B2B and B2C companies need to execute across a number of dimensions. This begins with having a customer-centric culture and top-down commitment to delivering great experiences to customers. Companies also must have the right blend of people, processes, and technology to deliver the types of experiences that customers expect.

Think of the foundations of the customer experience as a three-legged tripod, with people, processes, and technology each representing one of the legs. Without the right people in place to oversee and act on the customer experience, the customer experience tripod is going to be imbalanced and won't be able to adequately support customer expectations.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION