By Ken Donaven and Chelsea May
Consumer-facing brands are very familiar with measuring customer satisfaction and understanding the impact of customer experience on their brands…providing a unique, pleasant and memorable purchase and use experience often is key differentiator for these suppliers. Unfortunately, the business-to-business world (B2B), has a much more complex buying process, which often does readily lend itself to traditional “customer experience.” The sheer number of people and distribution channels involved in B2B products and services often results in a muddled customer experience that is difficult to measure and improve.
Simplifying the B2B customer journey and understanding all of the potential touch points is key to understanding customer experience in the B2B world. The Peak-End Rule provides a framework to clarify customer experience for B2B brands. The Peak-End Rule theorizes that people (and businesses) judge an experience based on how they felt at its peak and at its end, rather than on the sum total of the experience. Because of the complexity of the B2B buying process, we at Martec frequently add one more element to the peak-end rule…the start of the buying process. The key elements of our B2B customer journey typically include:
- Start: Key decision makers and purchasing
- Peak: Distribution and installation
- End: User experience
There is flexibility in determining who is targeted within the framework of the research. For example, some clients prefer to include their internal sales team versus the distribution channel. Ultimately, the objectives of the research will determine who is targeted at the start, peak and end of the customer experience.
Customer Experience research within the B2B world often requires both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and insights. We often utilize a qual/quant/qual approach to these projects to ensure all aspects of the customer experience are covered:
- Phase 1 Qualitative: flesh out the issues and ensure that the quantitative phase includes the appropriate questions
- Phase 2 Quantitative: may include a variety of quantitative methodologies (CSAT, conjoint, MaxDiff, brand awareness & image, etc…)
- Phase 3 Qualitative: may include observation research and/or in-depth interviews to determine the “why” behind the findings.
Martec’s experience in the B2B world has afforded us the opportunity to fully understand the challenges inherent to B2B research:
Whether you’re new to B2B research or have years of experience, conducting customer experience from a B2B perspective is a different animal. If you have questions about where to start with your B2B Customer Experience research, contact us.