Few B2B companies are implementing truly effective customer experience programs and achieving higher revenue growth, with the majority surviving but not exactly thriving according to a new study.

An Accenture Strategy report, 2015 B2B Customer Experience, surveyed 1,350 B2B sales and customer service executives in ten countries and found that only 23% could claim to be achieving a strong return on their customer experience investment.

Some 20% were generating little or no return with the remaining 57% somewhere in between.

These three groups were categorised as Leaders, Strivers and Laggards. Accenture’s research indicated that Leaders generated an average of 13% annual revenue growth and Strivers managed 6% while Laggards recorded a decline of -1%.

“B2B companies overwhelmingly recognise the importance of customer experience to their corporate strategy and bottom line, but the majority are wasting their investments on changes that are delivering mediocre results,” said Robert Wollan, senior managing director, Accenture Strategy.

“With consumer-like expectations and a substantial threat from new entrants, B2B companies must be ready to design and execute a transformed customer experience or not invest in such improvements at all,” he declared.

More than three quarters of survey respondents thought higher customer expectations for tailored B2B solutions would have a substantial impact (78%) and that customers are now more knowledgeable, self-directed, and continually evaluating suppliers (76%).

But only one third (32%) of executives felt they were equipped with the skills, tools, and resources necessary to deliver the desired B2B customer experience.

They pointed to a lack of C-suite attention, customer experience processes, and necessary cross-organisational integration as factors that needed to be addressed.

“Strivers are ‘racing to become average’ and average is a precarious position to be in these days,” observed Wollan.

“Leaders see after-sales service as a critical part of the customer lifecycle and they invest not just in new digital technologies, but in traditional customer connection points too,” he said.

“Leaders realize that a multi-channel approach is needed to reach B2B customers seamlessly and consistently.”

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