Business Is Human, First and Foremost

If I were to ask you what every business transaction in the world had in common.  What would you tell me?

Perhaps besides suggesting that such a suggestion is crazy, would you agree with the notion that in every single business transaction in there is a buyer and seller, and while the buyer and seller may be an entity, at the root of the transaction are people?

Simply put, every transaction in the world that takes place involves people.

This is the very premise of P2P (Peer to Peer/Person to Person), because in the end whether a transaction is B2B or B2C, it is really P2P.

Behind this very idea lies a substantial shift that every business, especially B2B’s need to think about as a part of their customer experience strategy.

Visualizing High Impact Customer Experience

Exceptional Customer Experience
When we are asked to draw on examples of great customer experience, where do most of our memorable experiences come from?

While I can’t speak for everyone in the room, most of my best customer experiences come from B2C experiences.  Maybe this has to do with the fact that customer experience is looked at more closely when we are spending our own money, or maybe it is because as individuals we engage in many service focused activities like dining out, travel and entertainment.

Why do you think this may be?

Let me ask you to visualize the last time you received remarkable customer experience.  Not just a good one, or one of those forgettable slightly better than mediocre ones, but the kind of experience that is so good that you feel obliged to tell anyone that will listen.

What was it that set this particular experience apart for you?

If I had to guess, it was almost always an interaction between yourself and another person right?

Can you seriously tell me that you have had a truly memorable customer experience where you didn’t have to interact with a person even one time? I have no doubt that such an experience is possible, but here is why I don’t think you can have a memorable customer experience without dealing with another human being; Because those types of experiences fall directly in the bucket of Above Average to Good.

Take for instance shopping online.  If you go online, buy the good and it arrives when it is supposed to, that isn’t great or memorable, but rather what you expected.  Am I right?

When The Person Makes The Customer Experience Great

After much indecisiveness I finally made the decision to buy an iMac.  In fact it was just this past Christmas.

Being that I am fairly savvy with the technology and I was already an Apple user, I went to the Apple Store online, I picked out the machine I wanted, the accessories I wanted and I submitted the order which would be ready for pick up in 3 days.

Great, so long as 3 days from now I can go pick up my machine then I am going to be really happy.   Although waiting 3 days for my self appointed gift was a bit much.

24 hours later my phone rings and it was the Apple Store letting me know that my computer was ready for pick up.

Apple Customer Experience

Wow! This is great, only one day when I was expecting to wait three.  I jumped in my car and off I went to Apple to pick up my new machine.

When I got there my computer was all ready and the “Genius” that set me up handed me his card and said, call me if you have any issues with the setup.  I laughed thinking…

  1. It is an Apple, so there will be no problems.
  2. This guy isn’t going to help me, I didn’t pay for the “Custom Setup.”
  3. There are a thousand people (seemingly) in this store. He won’t even remember me.

Sure enough the store employee caught on to my snark and he grabbed the card and jotted down his Cell Phone and stated, “Seriously, if you need my help just call.”

The setup went perfectly so unfortunately I had no need to call, however when I finished the set up I decided to give him a call just to thank him for the offer.  When I called, he picked the phone up (as he said he would), he in fact did remember me and immediately asked how he could help.  I told him I didn’t need help, but did want to thank him for going the extra mile.

So even though the shopping online was simple and intuitive and the install went flawless, what do you think it was that made the customer experience great?

It was the store employee that went just a little big further to help and it made all the difference in the world.

With this in mind, let me ask you another question:

Does Your Experience At Dairy Queen Impact Your Service Expectations in B2B?

Okay, before you ask why Dairy Queen, I chose them randomly to serve as an example.  In actuality, the example could be Dairy Queen, Midas, Starbucks or any other place you have a human interaction, just like my Apple experience above.

The important take away from the question is do you ever consider great online or in person shopping experiences that you have B2C when you are looking at B2B?

For a long time B2B has been a bit of a vacuum where service has been allowed to be delivered at its own pace.

Same day callbacks and quick resolutions were often luxuries and many B2B buyers just dealt with these slower responses.

Today this is changing.  With over

Great Customer Experience Needs To Be A Focus Of Every Business

Did you know that on average only 12% of a company’s marketing budget is spent on Customer Retention while more than 55% goes to new customer acquisition?

Perhaps this seems obvious to you, but when you consider that the probability of selling “More” to a current customer is 60-70% whereas selling to a new customer is only 5-20%, there may be enough information there to make you take pause?

Considering that not only are your current customers perhaps your best source of new revenue, but in the end, they are often your best chance of growing your business via word of mouth.

Think about this.  90% of buyers online trust a reference that comes from their personal/professional network.  Do you think that your current customers know a few more people you could sell to?

Chances are the answer is yes, but the question that businesses need to ask themselves is why aren’t we getting these recommendations (or more of them)?

With all of these numbers in mind, you can’t ignore how important it is to keep your current customers happy and to do so; you have to lead with customer experience.

And if the numbers aren’t enough to drive you to focus more on customer experience then take a minute and think back to the customer experiences that were most memorable to you.

B2B’s have to recognize that it is experiences just like the one that caught your attention that are setting the bar for customer experience in every business.   If the person behind the counter at Dairy Queen can go the extra mile, or the “Genius” at the Apple Store can do just a little more to make my experience great, then B2B’s large and small can take notice and put better customer experience as a top priority item.

The good news is if your business has been avoiding putting more structured focus on your customer experience strategy, you are not alone.  Only about 20% of businesses have a well-defined customer experience strategy, however the vast majority of the rest (73%) are at various stages of creating and implementing one.

Customer Experience Strategy

No matter where you are with your customer experience, two things are for sure.

  1. You need to have one.
  2. Every customer experience must be considered as a benchmark.

Remember, every transaction in the world ultimately takes place between two humans.  Keep that in mind when deciding how you want to create great customer experiences for those that drive your business.