“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” But which step?
Many B2B leaders are eager to create memorable experiences for customers. But, it can be difficult to know where to start. To do anything inside complex B2B organizations requires internal selling. And, selling something as intangible as customer centricity can be tough.
In reality, there are several good options to get started. Many of my successful colleagues start with governance – assembling a small but mighty team to manage VOC programs, recruit ambassadors and start the change management. Others (the lucky ones!) start with an executive mandate from the CEO or Chief Commercial Officer. Many others start by fixing pain points.
My favorite starting point is to interview customers. Why?
Customer insights add clarity to what matters most. Testimonials and verbatim quotes cut through the air and rise above the noise of everyday issues. It reminds me of when I attended a Bonnie Raitt concert at the iconic Chicago Theater. Her voice cut the air like a knife and quieted all other sounds in the theater.
It role-models customer centric behaviors. It sends a strong message to employees and customers by having honest conversations about what it’s like to work with your company.
It instills a sense of urgency and accountability. When you ask a customer what they need, there is an implication that you will act on that information within a reasonable amount of time.
To help you get started with your Customer Insights Game Plan, here are some tips:
Start small. Start with a pilot project and learn by doing. Select a single segment and no more than 1 or 2 personas.
Create a good interview guide. Ask open ended, probing questions. Get your customer to recall a situation and tease out what they were thinking, doing and feeling.
Capture every word. You need every insight when it’s time to synthesize the data. Record the interview if permitted or enlist a good note-taker.
Journey map your insights. Journey mapping is a great way to visually convey the customer’s story.
A word of caution; it can be hard to get unbiased feedback when interviewing your own customer. They may sugar-coat the truth to avoid offending you. Or conversely, they may hyper-focus on a small pain point to get a short-term resolution. If you really want unbiased feedback, hire a professional.
So, if you are struggling with, “where do I start?” consider undertaking customer interviews with a customer experience coach.
If you live in the B2B world, I would love to hear how you got on the path to creating memorable experiences. Leave a comment!
Carol Pudnos Carol is a Customer Experience Strategist, helping companies transform their operations to deliver seamless experiences. Carol’s thoughts on customer experience are backed by over two decades of B2B business leadership in chemical, food, pharma and medical device industries. “Processes that serve customers the way they want to be served will differentiate your company and drive business results.”