The View from the Summit (the London B2B Summit, that is)


Phil Durand

Phil Durand

Author Bio

Director, Customer Experience Management


Author Bio

A couple of weeks ago, we held our first B2B Summit in London. An expansion of the event that has run for a couple of years in New York (and which takes place in June, if you fancy it). It was a great turn-out. In every sense. We had a great line-up of speakers – in honesty more than we’d planned for, but we certainly weren’t going to turn away great voices telling engaging stories about their experiences. We also had a great turnout with the audience – and that’s what really makes for a good event. It doesn’t matter how good the speakers are if no one turns up to listen! But they did. In droves. And the conversations kept going into the early evening – and, I believe, went on longer than that, but I left with a buzzing head and aching feet!

I thought I’d share my pick of the messages we picked up from our guests. 

I can’t begin to tell you what a revelation it was hearing one of our clients talking about the journey she’d taken her organization on over the course of 18 months. They began with nothing – no CX program, no one caring about customers (other than in rather perfunctory way that people care about things when they know it’s the right thing to do, but really, it’s low on the list and they hope that someone else volunteers first.) In other ways, her story reminded me of my time when I worked ‘client side’. I got flash-backs from the way she described the sheer amount of travelling, socializing, shoe-leather, and coffees that go into the job of just getting people to listen to mere possibility that you have something useful to say. About customers.

Who?

Customers. You remember, the ones who pay our wages...?

Oh yeah.

It was a great tale of taking an idea, starting small and using a combination of perseverance and good decisions taken in the right order, then an extra dollop of perseverance. Then before you know it you have the ear of the Executive, you’re seen as a trusted advisor within the business and your budget, team (and responsibilities – yikes) are increasing! A great success story – and more importantly to me, a great human story of how to get CX working. Not just in a B2B environment, but anywhere!

But that wasn’t all. We also heard from others extolling the virtues of not just listening to what your customers are telling you, but also listening to your employees too. I can’t quite claim there was a sharp intake of breath from the audience at this point, but there was a definite increase in note-taking as people pondered the idea!

We also heard about how the whole landscape of marketing, the sales pipeline and the buying process has changed beyond recognition over the last few years. And it’s going to keep going. Two things struck me. One was the sheer amount of research a client does before engaging with a partner – as in picking the phone up to say ‘we’d like to talk with you about something’. As much as 60% of the decision making process has already been made before you – as a vendor – get a chance to say anything. So the importance of your public facing messages, reputation and all that has never been more critical.

The second thing was the emotional involvement in B2B decision making – even more so than in B2C, when you’d think the personal environment would see far greater levels of emotional decision making. Not so. What I love is the way we all love to think of ourselves as wonderfully rational, grown-up, sensible creatures, who can only be persuaded by objectivity and hard facts. Well, we’ve news for you. That’s nonsense. The minute you find yourself sitting at your desk, pondering a decision and you feel your job or career will suffer from choosing the wrong path – well, that’s when you can wave bye-bye to objectivity. This is now an emotional decision. It’s where the saying ‘no one ever got fired for choosing IBM’ comes from.

So the power of CX in the B2B environment has never been more important – and it looks set to increase. As the world moves faster and faster, we’ll rely on our emotional bedrock to help us more and more with business decisions.

People buy people. And experiences.

 

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