by Nathan Williams

Evaluating the B2B customer experience and why it matters to you

Feb 29, 20123 mins
IT Leadership

Last time we looked at how CIO’s are fundamental to enabling the modern brand experience, and in a world where brands live and die by how customers perceive that experience, the role of the CIO becomes increasingly important, to provide the bedrock on which those services are built.

You may think you just deal with corporations, not customers.

That’s the issue, we often think of customer experience being the sole domain of B2C brands, and in a world where your business is dealing with other businesses, the experience can sometimes be at the PowerPoint and email level.

The first mistake we make is this: we can forget that business customers are consumers too.

Bob might be the CFO of a FTSE 100 conglomerate, but on the weekends, he shops from big high street brands, such as Argos like the rest of us.

And guess what, he probably gets a better day to day customer experience from Argos, where he’s spending fifty quid, as opposed to a large services business where he’s spending millions.

The solution is to think about the businesses you interact with outside of work. Who gives you great service and why?

If you haven’t shopped from Argos in a while, download its smart-phone app, think of something to buy, and do it.

The phone to store experience is so integrated it verges on magical.

Then check the experience against your mental image of Argos, I bet it changes your perception of it as a brand.

The second mistake we make is keeping up with the Joneses. My advice is don’t care what your competition is doing.

Look at your nearest competitors: you all look, sound and feel the same, so look outside your industry.

Looking within creates an innovation-stifling echo chamber of sameness. Looking outside brings fresh air.

However, if you must look inside your industry, look at the minnows, the guys a thousandth of your size.

This is the competition you need to worry about because they’re agile and they compete by innovating with the experience, service and product.

Often I’ve tried to push innovation through a mega-corporation, only to see the competition do what we were talking about, just because we couldn’t all get the meetings about the meetings in our diaries.

All this leads us neatly to the third mistake, which is not talking and collaborating within our own businesses.

The solution lies beyond simple collaboration, it lies in the brand. Businesses need to be clear as to what they stand for: their purpose, and role in the customers lives.

Having this singular point of view is the key to uniting disciplines and verticals within a business.

While this can seem lofty, it can be made tangible through tools that we use every day.

As CIO consider developing a set of Experience Principles that define the experience of the role we want the business to play.

These can be used to brief and guide a new project as well as evaluate products and services that already exist.

If an existing services doesn’t meet these principles, then not only is it off-brand, it’s probably not serving the role we or our customers want it to play. This will prompt innovation in the experience.

So if you do one thing this week, go and buy something you need from Argos using its smart phone app.

Find it, reserve it in store, go to the store, use the in-store terminal to pay. You’ll learn a lot.

Nathan Williams is digital strategist at Wolff Olins