Conversations about customer experience tend to lean toward ubiquitous consumer-facing brands like Amazon and Netflix. Both have built their reputations and success on knowing their customers intimately and translating that into personalised experiences. However, customer expectations have grown in every aspect of our lives, including work, and who we choose to do business with.

By Poornima Ramaswamy, chief transformation officer of Qlik

The path to B2B customer satisfaction and loyalty is more than personalising email blasts or automated content offers based on buyer personas. Similar to B2C, it’s understanding what each buyer likes and their individual preferences on how and when to engage.

The way forward is through un-siloed and blended data. Anticipating needs and building recommendation engines to personalise and cater to unique needs is only possible when you have a 360-degree understanding of both the organisation and the buying centres.

According to Gartner, 77 percent of B2B buyers feel their latest purchase was very complex or difficult. If you’re finding challenges in creating customer loyalty and retention, this is a likely culprit and the first place you should examine.

There are two important questions to ask yourself when coordinating customer high-touch awareness through data across the organisation. This will ensure everyone from marketing to finance to customer service to product are all supporting the buyer through their winding, non-linear journey.


Is your organisational structure getting in the way?

Per Gartner, the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 decision makers. Each of these discrete personalities is armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently and likely are interpreting in different ways. This is a dynamic that everyone on your team needs to understand – your customers’ journeys must be mapped by each persona and path.

Aligning your team’s tactics to the buyer can pinpoint operational opportunities and gaps that can be filled through a variety of approaches, including everything from digitisation to content offers to demo requests.

Delivering a high-touch customer experience also often means a shift in how your organisation operates internally. All business units – from marketing to customer service to customer success – must be aligned, collaborating and executing seamlessly in order to effectively measure results.

Shared data is the connective tissue that can make this all happen. Even in organisations where the structure is built around siloed business units, reconciling and tracking company-wide goals against a consistent data set will ensure everyone is working toward the same result and understands their responsibility in the journey.


Do you have the tools in place to take action?

As McKinsey outlined in their report on next-generation operating models, delivering great customer experiences calls for disciplined execution and consistent service delivery. This starts with culture, but is realised through the tools you put in place. It’s one thing to have a wealth of customer data, and it’s a completely different thing to leverage this data strategically and action it for measurable change.

For example, RevLocal, a personalised digital marketing company for small and midsize businesses, discovered that customer churn was a constant struggle despite its huge success in bringing in new customers.

The company knew it had a wealth of historical operational data. By tapping into it, they could identify customers who were likely to leave and subsequently adjust their retention approach.

Deploying machine learning (ML) and predictive analytics that were easy to use and understand drove big gains. An initial test saw three months of historical data on just 331 clients fed into the model, and this alone brought a 7% rise in retention rates. After such promising initial results, the company continues to build upon this model and is even evaluating how they might use it in more facets of the business, like upselling.


Unlocking data to drive great customer experiences

The next time you pull up Netflix to find a list of recommendations that are as interesting as they are on point, know that the same experience is possible in B2B. With the right mindset and tools, the “they get me” moments in buying and retention are transferable and translatable to your business by unlocking and acting on your customer data.