5 Traits of the B2B Enterprises Who Nail Customer Engagement Change Programmes
Last week we ran a full day workshop last week with one of the world’s largest FM companies (kindly hosted by one of our favourite customers: www.lorien.co.uk). The FM company brought to the session their senior leadership team including Directors of Customer Experience, Sales, Finance, Commercial Sector, Public Sector and Operations. They are VERY serious about transforming Customer Engagement and giving their top customers a world class CX, all with a simple objective of retaining and growing contracts by improving their business relationship.
The thing that struck me (as it does again and again) are the cultural challenges some enterprises face in change management when it comes to changing the way they manage key accounts.
It’s not that large companies don’t recognise the need for change and to double down on the customer relationship….Gartner will tell you that 53% of your success will be down to experience: Corporate Visions research backs this up and pretty much every piece of B2B sales research will tell you that you need to reach a wider audience and improve your customer relationships. A good price, good service, green SLAs and a strong brand don’t win and retain you business any more; they merely keep you in the game.
But why is it that some companies who desperately want to improve customer engagement and arguably have the tools at their fingertips to do so, fail to do so?
Here we look at 5 traits that the best B2B companies who nail customer engagement change programmes all seem to have.
1. Leading the Charge
When the top table sign off business cases for change, too often the expectation is that someone else will lead the change programme and they can carry on as before. Reality is, if you want to improve the way you engage with your customers then the leadership need to lead by example. It’s hard, but it’s necessary. Leading companies often deploy clear focus exec programmes with the Senior Leadership Team communicating to clients on a regular structured basis with peer group engagement. Laggard programmes are where accounts get nominally given to an exec who makes an appearance occasionally to act as the cavalry – these fail time and time again. The best change management programmes happen when the leaders make it part of their responsibility.
Summary: C-level must lead not watch.
2. Not knowing the customer isn’t acceptable!
We live in the most connected age ever. Yet some account teams simply don’t know enough contacts at their customer or rely on the same old ones. The leading enterprise b2b sales and account teams no longer accept this gap. They make it their mission to ensure every relevant contact knows who they are and what they deliver. It makes such a difference when it comes to contract renewals and growth. They get the customer involved in any change programmes from the off and constantly ask for their support and feedback.
Summary: in today’s connected age, knowing just a few contacts isn’t good enough.
3. This isn’t about the tools
Many change management programmes for customer engagement are led by the tools. Look at CRMs for example… “here’s what it does and here’s what you do”. Did anyone ever ask: “so how does this benefit my customer”? Most new tools are deployed as ‘tools’ instead of the tool being part of the overall change programme. Pretty much all the SaaS tools bought by big companies, work; all could be better, granted, but the tool is generally not the issue. The best companies deploy change and change management to their staff and customers and it just so happens the tool (whatever it may be) is just one part of the reason they are changing the way they work.
Summary: don’t focus solely on the tool; make sure everyone knows how they fit into the bigger picture.
4. The Account Manager Can’t Carry the Load
Heard the one about the account manager stretched to breaking point – updating CRMs, managing MI, reporting on SLAs, selling more, knowing more people, managing debt? It’s quite revealing how the workload of an account manager has in many cases become more about satisfying internal needs than meeting the customer requirements. This puts contracts at risks because the customer rightly asks what they get in exchange for the services they deliver (on the basis price / SLA / service amongst competitors are much the same). The leading companies in the B2B market share the burden of customer engagement between marketing, sales, operations and the Senior Leadership Team. It doesn’t mean no single person is accountable; implemented properly it means more people are involved, interested, informed and are ready and willing to help.
Summary: customer engagement is a team game.
5. Put the customer at the centre
The customer should be the jam in the centre of the doughnut (or custard depending on whatever takes your fancy); one of our customers gave us this analogy. She topped it off by saying that at her previous company (where she was a frustrated sales director) they managed accounts akin to doughnuts with a hole in the middle; in other words they had no idea who their customer really was. You have to put your customer at the heart of any change programme when it comes to improving customer engagement and that’s what leading companies do. Explain to you customers why are you implementing change, how it will benefit them and then get them involved. You’ll soon find out where you have relationship strengths and weakneeses.
Summary: put the customer at the centre of any customer engagement change management programme.
Client Share has proven than improving customer engagement can see upselling increase by 15%, attrition reduce by 10% and NPS increase by 15%. You also get an amazing 360 degree view of the relationship strength of each and every contract and can act on insight not hindsight. However, to achieve this change you need to not only want to change the way you engage with your customers, but make sure it becomes an endemic part of your business and it’s a team game, not an individual one.
About Client Share
Client Share’s purpose is to improve the relationship between buyers and suppliers. We enable suppliers to retain and grow contracts they fear losing and we enable buyers to unlock up to 25% of additional value from their suppliers. We do this through Client Share, a private digital community that makes relationships easier for both parties and brings to life Content, C-Suite, Community, Collaboration, Innovation and Feedback.
See more: www.myclientshare.com
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