London, 10 May 2016

B2B companies are coming to realize that they’re not immune to the digital revolution in how people find, research and buy their products.

However, trying to match a consumer-style customer experience (CX) sets a benchmark that most B2B organizations aren’t able to meet, with only 16% saying that they’ve achieved a CX that’s on par with the best B2C experiences. This is a key finding from The Tension in B2B CX Management report, published by Econsultancy in partnership with SAP Hybris.

The research, based on a global survey of over 220 senior leaders at B2B companies spanning a range of industries, suggests that while most in B2B recognize the importance of better satisfying buyers, there are significant obstacles to be overcome. The report explores specific reasons throughout, but an underlying factor is that B2B marketers and merchandisers are torn between committing to a new model and sticking with what they know.

While 58% of respondent companies believe that they have practical and visionary guidance for CX initiatives, the reality is that most are lacking some of the fundamentals of an effective strategy. Most troubling is that only 40% of responding B2B organizations include cross-departmental involvement into their strategy and less than half have CX strategies that extend at least a year into the future.

Another oversight is in the area of how B2B companies understand and apply human resources to the challenges outlined in their plans and strategies. Only 26% report that they identify the talent necessary to accomplish customer experience goals.

When asked to evaluate their ecommerce platforms as they relate to customer experience, respondents tend to emphasize capabilities that are vital, but largely invisible to the end user.

Security and compliance, order management and back-office integrations are important functions of an ecommerce system, but they are generally unnoticed unless something goes wrong. Nonetheless these are the top three choices, far above some of the functions that touch the customer’s experience directly, such as content management, product information management or merchandising capabilities.

Brian Walker, Chief Strategy Officer at SAP Hybris, commented: “B2B organizations need to understand that their customers are consumers too. As such, they naturally fall into the same patterns they do when looking for information or solving problems at work, such as finding supplies or inventory for their business or job. B2B customers expect easy, simple and relevant online and mobile experiences, which are now the preferred channels, with the more traditional channels of sales and customer service seamlessly supporting when needed. Technology is an important enabler, but organizations also need a strategy to guide all aspects of customer experience management.”

Other findings from the report include:

-) While the majority of respondents are using CRM data (55%) to improve the digital customer experience, it’s also the only data source being used by more than half of the companies surveyed. In contrast, less than 40% of organizations are using purchase history, at the company (37%) or individual (34%) level, to improve future purchase behavior.

-) Two-fifths (40%) of companies are consistently re-evaluating their customer journey research in order to expand their knowledge and react to any changes. The same proportion (40%) work in ways that allow teams across the enterprise to work together to define customer needs.

-) While 58% say that in five years’ time, the digital experience ‘will be our brand’, 48% acknowledge that today, ‘the digital experience is an afterthought in our business’.

Get this report

The full report is available on the Econsultancy website here: https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-tension-in-b2b-customer-experience-management/.

The report is available to Econsultancy subscribers. For more information about this report, contact:

Monica Savut, Senior Research Manager, Econsultancy
monica.savut AT econsultancy.com
+44 (0) 207 269 1450

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Published on: 3:00PM on 10th May 2016