In this #SmallBizCX19 session, Sue Duris discusses how to create omni-channel customer experience in the B2B sector.
Sue Duris, and we're speaking about the employee experience, customer experience and omni-channel communication. So that's our topic today, but let you introduce yourself, Sue, so you can let us know about yourself.
Sure. Well, my name is Sue Duris and I'm President of an organization called M4 Communications. We're a digital marketing and customer experience consulting company. And interestingly enough, we focus in the B2B space. I specifically love coaching new organizations as well as existing organizations that are working on customer experience, to help them be more customer-centric and just improve their customer experience and their omni-channel customer experience specifically. So, this topic is right up my alley. I love talking about B2B omni-channel. I think it's very important now and I think that we've seen that some of the retail companies have had some speed bumps in the omni-channel, and I think that B2B can help them kind of close those gaps. I will say one little promo bit, every Wednesday at 11:00 AM Pacific time and 2:00 PM Eastern time, and 7:00 PM British summertime, I host on Twitter, #cxchat, and we talk about CX. We talk about employee experience and how we can all be better in being more customers obsessed.
Absolutely, and I participate in that chat and I can speak to it that it's a great forum for everybody to express ideas, to learn new things. So, that's where I think that's how we came across you and your wonderful expertise.
Yeah, great. Again, for everybody tuning in, it's almost our go time. So we're here with Sue Duris. Is Natalya from LiveHelpNow and we're talking about employee experience and customer experience, and omni-channel communication. So, I can get started with the first question if you're ready?
Sure. Let's talk, let's go.
Alright, so could you talk about the difference between multi-channel and omni-channel communication.
I'm glad you asked this to start off because there is a-- I think there's a big issue that many interchange the two. So they'll say omni-channels, multi-channel and vice versa, when in fact they're totally different, and they have and they impact things much differently. So multi-channel like it says multi, multiple, and omni-channel is all, it's combining everything into one. And by multi-channel for B2B company, it can have online, the web, it can have email, it can have social, but when it takes each channel singularly it creates silos. And when things create silos, when your organization creates silos, you're creating inconsistent experiences. By that I mean, for instance, I'm contacting LiveHelpNow via email, and I get one experience. But I might contact them via the web and get a totally different experience. So when I get inconsistent experiences, the red flag goes up, "Okay, they're not taking care of me. Do I really trust this organization?" So that's the problem, and omni-channel, somebody. I read this once and I don't even remember who the person was, but I think it really good definition of omni-channel is when you go into an organization, it's one channel.
So you could be going through social, going through some type of content, email, web, phone, whatever it is. But wherever you enter the organization, whichever channel you enter, you're getting the exact same experience. So, if I have an issue, I don't have to explain to another person that this is my issue. Everything's interconnected. And when to do that is to have an organization that's very customer-centric, and they align across the organization for the customer. So that's why it's extremely important to focus on that one channel.
You can have multiple channels, but you can't just start implementing channels, you have to have a method to your madness, you know, it needs to all be methodical. Why are we doing this channel? Is it something that the customer requested? Is that their expectation? So if it is their expectation, then all the parties internally need to get together and talk about, "Okay, how do we develop the strategy? How do we implement it? How do we improve it? Or what will the data metrics and things that things along that line." And the more you can meet what the customer expects, and give them more of personal, proactive experience, they're gonna be more willing to do business with you and stick with you, right? I'm going to during our time today, I'm going to be giving you some data points. I'm a pretty data-driven person, but when you give a data point, you know you can't-- I think people also this is kind of an aside, but I think a lot of times we make data, data the story, and it's not the story. It's your Northstar What are you trying to accomplish? How are you trying to help the customer and data support that story? So, Salesforce had said and this is next year actually, "By 2020, more than 50% of customers are expecting a proactive customer engagement." And to be proactive, you need to align those channels, you need to basically-- it needs to if you taking a 30,000-foot view, it needs to look like one channel. And you know, back to the definition, all it's everything but everything in one, so it's all interconnected.
Another thing is, and we'll get into this as we talk, omni-channel really impacts the bottom line. With omni channel. on average, a company's retention rate can go as high as 89% versus the all-industry average of about 33%. So it does pay to do omni-channel. And even Accenture said that 75% would repurchase with that organization if there was a strong omni-channel capability present. So everything is pointing towards omni-channel is the way to go.
Great. Now, going back to you talking about creating the omni-channel, and you know, a company getting his employees together and kind of coming up with the vision, would you talk a little bit more about how to determine the customers needs with journey mapping or with other techniques so that everyone in the company is on the same page?
Why is the company channel really aligns well with journey mapping? Because you have to have channels where each channel needs to be represented in the journey map, so you know what the customers going through. And if you can see that on a journey map and it's not enough to talk about this all the time with companies, it's not enough to get your people in a room and talk about, "Okay, we need to create a journey map, or we need to improve our journey map." That's the first step. The second step is you need to validate it with the customer, because the customer may be bringing something in that internally, somebody had forgotten. So, first and foremost, those two pieces are important. And it doesn't make that it really, it depends on the organizational culture. If you have that customer or customers or whatever that that's persona, the representative persona in the room, or you bring them in later. But the focus here with journey mapping is you get all the key stakeholders in the room.
And again, it's not enough to get them in the room. Customer Experience needs to be driven, there needs to be a champion, it needs to start with the executive team, the CEO, Chief Customer Officer, Chief Experience Officer, whoever that designate is to basically drive that "This is what we've determined that we need to do." But it's also while it's a top-down structure, it's also bottom-up structure. Because and you had mentioned it a few times now, and I'm very passionate as you are about the employee experience. If my CEO is saying, "Boom, boom, boom, you need to do this." That's not enough. Why do I need to do it? You need to explain to me the importance of it and what my role is, because once I understand that, I'm gonna take ownership of that. And once we take ownership, then we can drive things across organization. So, it's if you think of a bicycle, and you think of all the spokes in the wheel, all those spokes and as you-- if you're looking at a bicycle wheel, those spokes come together in the center, and that center is the customer. And that's why aligning is very important. And I'll mention some things when we start talking about data on some of your questions. But yes, that's the way that you drive alignment across the organization.
Okay. Another follow up question is you did touch on proactive customer engagement through omni-channel, so can you expand on that just a little bit?
So, proactive versus reactives, and I'm sure there's gonna be a customer service person out there that's going to say, "Well, we're not reactive, we are proactive customer service." For the most part, customer service is reactive because especially in the contact center, I have an issue, I'm gonna call to get my issue resolved. As opposed to if and I'm proactive customer service or customer care or whatever you want to talk about, knowing the customer's needs by virtue of being always on top of the voice of the customer. And that can take very many-- It can take very many avenues. It can be by determining their online behavior to serving, through what the field is saying, your field marketing, your field sales personnel. But I always focus on the customer meeting and you should be whoever, anybody listening out there. You should be contacting customers on a daily basis even for a 15-minute check-in, "Hi, how's everything going? Is there anything that we could be doing better?" I get a little concerned when we keep sending Net Promoter Scores out, what's the likelihood of recommending us to your friends, family or colleagues. That is a relational metric, and it needs to be taken at the right place at the right time.
But back to being proactive, understanding the customer's needs through personalization, talking with them through the customer's voice, and not only just-- you can't just listen. It needs to be closed-loop feedback here. It needs to be, "We listened to you, we're gonna go back and resolve your issue." Internally, you prioritize, and then you make the improvements. But having this information will enable you to look at the customer and you may be looking at the customer's health metric, and there's a red flag, "Ooh, something's happening with this customer. I'm gonna get on the phone and chat with them before the issue arises." So all these different things, the voice of the customer, understanding the metrics, understanding the behaviors, is going to give you the ammunition so that you can be proactive.
Great, yeah. That definitely makes sense. Could you talk a little bit about how the omni-channel communications are so important now in the digital area era as opposed to in the past?
So it's actually a perfect time for omni-channel. I was just reading a report by Sana, I think that's how you pronounce the name, S-A-N-A. And they were saying that they found that on average, their customers are purchasing on average 75% of their products online. So it's all digital. And that's why we talk about email, we talked about social. We talked about the web. We talked about mobile, all these digital types of channels need to be connected because that's where customers are doing their work. And at another metric, I read that almost 50% of customers are using three or more channels. So they're using that many channels. We need to find a way to seamlessly integrate somewhere, so they're getting holistic experience here, one experience and it's the experience that they want. And there's other benefits of omni-channel. I know we talked a little bit about the journey mapping. I believe that omni-channel aligns very well to the journey map because you're getting that singular, holistic customer view.
Another piece is it's very outcome focus. So in customer experience land, for a customer to really have a good experience, they have to-- we have to as the company ensure that they're getting use out of our solution, and it's effortless. Because we want them to be successful. We want them to-- we basically want them to be a lifetime customer. I mean, yeah, I mean, we have onboard customers, we have offboard customers, but for the most part, that's where our growth as an organization is happening in the customer lifetime value metric. We want to drive those customers. So, omni-channel do journey mapping, and the second thing is it's very up, outcome-focused. So again, useful, effortless, and also making sure that they're having a good experience while they're using the product. What are they thinking about? How are they feeling? And again, back to the voice of the customer, making sure all that's align.
And the third big benefit that I'm seeing is omni-channel is very data-driven. Because you want to improve that performance of customer, of the customer experience. Matter of fact, Forrester had said that 82% of B2B professionals found that it was challenging to share across channels. And that's what happens in a multi-channel world. 36% blamed that on what do you want to call it? Channel conflict, because there were siloed organizations, they weren't able to communicate. But when you have that omni-channel, everybody's communicating across organisation, and it's driving success.
That kind of brings me the next question about how do we keep omni-channel? How we keep track of them all? What was some best tools that we can use to ensure consistency throughout our channels?
Well, a good customer experience management tool would be good, or some type of journey mapping tool. I know many use, what do I want to say? I just lost my train of thought, excuse me, a PowerPoint to and the post-it notes, and Excel to actually map out that journey. It's good for a smaller organization in that, and I think that that's a good starting place. And I know that many people on the call, it is we are talking the small company customer experience. So it's a really good place to start. You get in a room, you get those posted on a wall to actually see what's going on. The next point it or the next piece of it, after you've had the customer validate what you're doing, then you monitoring, you monitor the experience and you monitor it with data. And you monitor with data through the voice of the customer. So, when you're going through all these different touchpoints that you've identified, and if a customer-- if there is a particular moment of truth somewhere where for instance, as an example, pretend I'm doing a-- excuse me a renew. Renewal is a really good touchpoint, a moment of truth that you may have to focus more resources on that because some customers have voiced, we're having problems in renewal. So doing this, doing the journey mapping, putting everything out there, having the data points that the key performance indicators that you have identified, the leading and lagging indicators that you've identified, that's going to help you drive success. Putting all those things together is a really good starting point for folks. And then they may want to ramp scale to an actual product and actual journey mapping tool.
Okay. So that takes the next question I have, is what are the attributes of omni-channel communications that are unique to B2B?
I think first and foremost is value creation. When and I'm going to because I was just on the phone with Apple and my iPhone, I am going to compare B2B with the iPhone in my experience. So I'm a pretty-- what would you call me, a strong advocate of Apple. I have a MacBook Pro, I have my Apple watch on, and I have my iPhone, and I have my iPad and all those things. So, I purchase the product. I don't really have to do a lot of research because, you know, I see the commercials. I know what I want from Apple and I go ahead and purchase a product. And if I have an issue, I'm calling Apple care or emailing or I'm chatting with Apple care. In a B2B world, things are different, especially from a customer value creation point. It's very important because a B2B solution, I'm entrusting my entire organization on that solution, and it working. Because if it doesn't work, it's not just us on the line, it's not just me and you, It's me and my thousands of customers that I've been trusted that too. So value creation is very, very important. It needs to occur at constantly, what is the value that I'm getting from your product? So that is the first attribute and that happens at various points of the journey.
Second is seamless integration. How do we integrate all these channels? So, our customers, our B2B customers are getting-- we're driving success for our customers. So it's not as important in B2C, it is very important in B2B that those channels be integrated. So that's the second piece.
Third, customer care. So, I mentioned with Apple, I call when I have an issue. But there's multiple points in B2B, there's the onboarding piece, there's the nurturing piece. In B2C, yeah, you want to nurture your customer because, you know, you want to give them a good experience, but it's multiple times more important in a B2B situation. So the onboarding piece, the nurturing piece, how do we retain, how do we drive loyalty? How do we drive advocacy? Because this is we're trying to drive customer lifetime value. So it's much more each one of these mean value creation, seamless integration of channels, customer care. There are pieces in B2C space, but it's much more and I don't want to call it important, but it's magnified 10 and 20 times more in the B2B space.
You're not only responsible for your one customer, you're responsible for that customer's customers as well.
And I'd say the last part of that is on the moments of truth. When we talk about moments of truth, those are times of friction possible that could make or break your relationship. So the zero point, the zero moment of truth is, I know I have a problem. Second, I may be searching for you. You may be the solution. Third, you are the solution. I've decided I'm going with you. Fourth is I'm renewing with you. Fifth and sixth is retention and loyalty, and seventh is advocacy, so there's all these different moments of truth. And what we try to do in B2B space is drive our customers towards advocacy because when we can get more customer advocates, they're helping us sell our solution. They trust us so much that they want to help us bring more customers in, and that, all these different pieces really aren't successful without omni-channel.
Sure, and do you feel that because there's that additional responsibility, proactive customer engagement, and customer engagement is I guess more prevalent in B2B?
Oh, it has to be. It must because like the opening datapoint I gave me that customers are expecting this. They're expecting if I tell you what my preferences are, you're listening to me. And you're communicating with me based on those preferences that I've given you. And because I can go anyplace and get reactive customer service, I can call somebody and hopefully, it could be a crapshoot, that my issues gonna be resolved the first time, and I don't have to recall again, but now, the customer is in control. And the customer gets to determine, "Okay, if I'm not getting what I want from you, I'm gonna go to your competitor." So that's why proactive is so important. And quite frankly, I think it being having proactive customer care very few do it well, that it actually becomes a competitive advantage.
Right. Yeah, that makes sense, absolutely. So, omni-channel communications. What can we do as a business of it in the business to business space to make those communications more successful?
Well, again, you have to have the customer in the center. If you don't make that customer the center of your operation, forget it. And when you can be customer-centric, then you can align across the organization. So customer centricity drives customer experience, which drives customer success, which drives growth or drives profitability, drives growth. So that's the first piece, making the customer central. And then making sure that you're listening to them. That's the next piece that you know, it's not enough to be customer-centric, you have to have a strong closed-loop system, and by closed-loop, I mean, a customer has an issue that you might have found out proactively or reactively. You chat with them about the issue. You then tell them, "I'm going to take your issue and talk to our folks and get to the bottom of this and resolve it." So, behind the scenes, all the key stakeholders are in a room discussing how to fix this issue, you should get fixed. And then you go back to the customer and say, "This is how we fixed your issue, this is how we did it. We want you to take a look at it and if it's still not working, get it back to us immediately." So you hit, you're creating a closed loop. Because it's not enough to, you know, talk about an issue and resolve the issue. You gotta let the customer know what you did, and how you're improving. Because take doing it that way makes a customer feel like a human and not a number. And I think today, in 2019, we have a serious customer trust issue. I mean, forget about the data breaches, I mean that's a problem in and of itself, and forget the other things, you know, other date type things. But, how do we switch from customer centricity to human centricity, so we are making those customers feel like they're humans and not a number? So, that's the first piece.
The second piece is to create those journeys so that we understand what the customer is going through. Not only what they're doing, they're experiencing, but what they're thinking and feeling about that experience? So, that's important. And then the third piece is on improvement. So, we talked about being data-driven, that we need to take the appropriate, we need to understand what the appropriate metrics that are creating the trends and patterns, so we know how to-- so we know what to monitor. And when we know what we're monitoring and how things are coming across in the metrics, then we can improve. So, those are the three pieces that we really need to focus in omni-channel.
Okay. A follow-up questions on that, and because we're dealing in B2B space, we are, I guess, a more of a business level. So we're not dealing with consumers directly, we're more B2B. So do you think it's harder to do the human-centric service as opposed to customer service just because of the environment that we have because it's more business, like more formal? And what can we do to find that human connection easier?
Well, I think a lot of it is not on your-- well, I want to say, when you're interacting with somebody, are you more interested in the relationship or more interested in the sale? That's the first question. And trust me these customers are our whip-smart. They can tell a mile away, you know, you might want, you might be saying, "Yeah, I want a relationship," but really in the back of my mind, "I need to get the sale because I want my commission," or, you know, whatever. So it needs to be relationship-focused and my relationship focused is wanting to know who that customer is? I mean, it's a prospect first, who is the prospect? What are their needs? What are their wants? What keeps them up at night and all those different things, and giving them the tools to do content pieces, and driving them along the journey. So remember, there's two types of journeys, there's the buyer journey and then there's the customer journey. So there's, you know, the awareness and the consideration and the interest, and yeah, "I'm going to sign on the dotted line," but then there's the retention and that loyalty and the advocacy piece. So it's one big cycle and it can't-- it has to be, that relationship has to be first. Because if you don't have that relationship and you don't understand the customer, and you don't understand what their ultimate outcome is to drive success, if you can't drive their success and you're not driving your success.
Sure. That brings me to my last question in which is could you give an example of a B2B company that went through a customer experience transformation by adding an omni-channel communication?
I think Salesforces are a prime example.
And Salesforce has-- you know, they were in CRM, and I mean, that's still their bread and butter, but they've been purchasing all these companies because they want this, "We want to add more core competencies to us. And to drive profitability, we were looking at linking with these customers." I remember that there was-- excuse me, partners. I remember there was a time when Salesforce what had all these different channels and it was on a very multi-channel basis. But then they started to understand the customer experience, "How do we make our customers successful?" And I think that was putting a light bulb over my head here, thinking that, "Okay, we need to make sure that our customer lifetime value is we're driving that in a positive direction." So, I think then they started to look at, "Okay, we have all these different channels, we have all these organizations, we can't be in a multi-channel environment anymore, We have to have it one channel." So, I saw them go from multi-channel to omni-channel. It can be done, but it needs to come out of sight, you need to break down the silos and to be able to break down the silos. everybody has to be on the same page with one mission. And that's a customer-centric focus.
Okay. Is there anything else you'd like to add on the topic?
Oh, I could talk forever on B2B omni-channel, I think it's really important that If you're B2B, and you have made customer experience a key initiative, and you have multiple-channels that you're using, I can't see how you're successful without omni-channel, quite frankly.
Okay. Well, thank you so much, Sue. That was very insightful. We will be posting the videos later on, maybe next week. Really, you know if you want to add anything or just keep an eye out for everything, and thank you so much for your time.
Oh, thank you very much for having me.
Great. Have a great night.
Sue Duris believes that when culture, employee experience, and customer experience are aligned, organizations achieve growth. She is passionate about helping organizations differentiate and grow by coaching them to be customer-centric, advising them on their digital transformation initiatives, and collaborating with them to design omnichannel experiences that engage employees and deliver customer value.
"Omni-channel really impacts the bottom line and on average, a company's retention rate can go as high as 89% versus the all-industry average of about 33%."