The environment of business is changing to make the customer experience more important. According to Tom Knighton, EVP at Conversant, “Customers are getting smarter. And because customers have so much choice, they’re starting to distinguish the companies that they will do business with, not just based on service, but based on the entire experience. Customer experience is the next competitive battleground. It’s where business is going to be won or lost.”
And this applies not just to B2C markets. B2B marketers also agree that building a strong overall customer experience is a strategic priority for business success.
Delivering a strong customer experience requires accurate information and insight into your customers. That is what builds the foundation of knowledge that lets you view your business from a customer-centric perspective. Here are five ways marketing research can inform your customer experience management:
- Map the customer journey. The B2B customer journey is much more convoluted and complex than most B2C journeys. You have your hypotheses about how your customers come to the buying decision, but that is not enough. You need to know what their journey looks like, and what information they require to move to the next step. Qualitative marketing research (in-depth, one-on-one interviews) with customers can help you test your hypotheses, and identify what information will help your customers make the buying decision.
- Understand customer engagement. How engaged are your customers in general and at various points in the customer journey? Are you keeping them engaged once you have made the sale? Engaged customers are more likely to become repeat customers, so use marketing research to make sure your customer engagement levels are high – and stay there.
- Understand the desired experience. What do customers want and need from you? Are you delivering on those requirements? How do your competitors compare? What would put you “over the top”? You may think you’re doing everything you need to be doing, but you need marketing research to make sure your customers agree.
- Deliver the desired experience. Use marketing research to evaluate customer satisfaction across all of the various important touchpoints in the customer journey. One of the key drivers of superior customer experience is consistency. Marketing research about sales, about marketing, customer support, invoicing can make sure that all of your touchpoints are aligned to deliver a consistent brand experience.
- Understand vulnerable and lost accounts. No one wants to lose an account, and marketing research can help prevent this. As Microsoft’s Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Surveying customers at key decision points (including just after service delivery, prior to renewal, and after they have left) can deliver important information that allows you to course-correct before losing the customer, as well as to implement tactics and initiatives to prevent lost customers.
Understanding your customers will help you design and deliver a customer experience that creates loyalty and builds sales. Using marketing research strategically to inform the process and unify your team will help you in designing the right customer experience, as well as in continually improving it to delight your customers. Your strong customer experience will be a competitive advantage – just one more way your company will benefit.
Register with us today to learn more about our Customer Experience Research solutions.