Is Your Brand About Customer Awe or Customer Yawn?

Autumn 2023

B2B business growth depends on attracting new customers and minimising (if not eliminating) customer churn. In today's highly competitive market, it's only possible to do this with the confidence that you have something to offer that is genuinely valuable. Secondly, you are clear on what your customers would regard as an interaction or experience they would invest in. Without this, it's just MBA speak.

To deliver an experience that customers want, you need to know your customers incredibly well and have open lines of two-way communication. But despite many technological changes, increasingly interactive forms of communication and countless surveys, it often feels like a north star. Something to strive for, but with no 'quick fix' or one rule that works across industries. 

In the B2B buying process, your product or service will likely meet your customer's need at a specific time – for example, when they are at a certain stage of their growth or experiencing a particular problem. If you have succeeded in putting yourself front of mind at this pivotal moment, then what happens next can be transformative for your company. So, what does happen next? 

Delivering excellent customer experience isn't a new concept; perhaps the reason why there isn't a clear answer and a one-size fits all strategy comes down to the fact that we are (in the end) dealing with people and the complexities of human psychology. As a result, theory, automation and data will only get us so far – despite AI's cunningly clever and rapid advances.

Understanding what makes our customers tick

The awe factor

Simply put, for a customer to rate your product or service highly enough that they will stay with you – and better yet, recommend you to others – has everything to do with how they feel during their experience with you. 

You can provide the same service to your entire customer base and thus, turn a blind eye to the unique challenges affecting them in their marketplace – or tailor-make your offering and get very good at listening to their needs. The customer that feels that their service provider is listening and responding to their needs is the one that will have the better experience. The sentiment is everything; how a customer feels about you matters as much as whether you're making them more efficient, profitable, resilient and compliant. The personal element of the B2B customer journey is just as important as the numbers and facts. And nailing it can be your superpower. 

So how do we influence the psychology of our customers?

Much has been written recently about the psychological power of awe. Feeling wowed or in awe is about shifting someone's attention for a moment. It can improve our well-being and even positively affect our physiology. This Guardian report1 acknowledges that feeling awe is not only derived from a visit to one of the world's natural wonders – more often, feeling awe is about people. 

Think about how you can create moments of awe in your customer journey. The perfect example is when a customer throws a challenge your way. Many transactions will go according to plan, but there will always be some unexpected moments. A problem you've never dealt with before or a last-minute emergency. In this instance, give your staff the autonomy to work with the customer to resolve the issue, being flexible to their needs and showing them that you're willing to go that extra mile. Despite the challenge, surpassing customer expectations and keeping a promise of service is the perfect opportunity to awe them and deliver a strong feeling of trust and loyalty in your brand. 

Give your customers someone they can relate to

Digitally enhance, but don't replace your people

There is something to be said for the richer dialogue that four generations of Gen Z, millennials, Gen X and baby boomers bring to the workplace. Having a diverse workforce makes you more relatable to a diverse customer base. It offers reactive and proactive opportunities to manage a more resilient business and workforce. Include the fact that as the world becomes more and more driven by a digital-first approach, expectations of CX are now as much about gaining and giving value. 

Gartner's Future of Sales research shows that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. On the one hand, this supports the efficiencies and speed to market that come with the acceleration of IT services automation, online licence renewals, digital communications, chatbots etc. But it also risks dehumanising the workforce environment and customer experience. How many times has a call centre chatbot infuriated you? Does your interaction with a company involve dealing with a real person – people still like to buy from people – it's human nature. So where do you find the balance?

As we face the additional pressures of a challenging economy and continuing skills shortages, our mission must be to find the right balance so that our people are motivated and empowered by the technology available. And our customers believe they are doing business with people, not just technology. 

How do we do this? It starts with the courage to ask the hard questions, listen to what comes back and act on it as a fundamental strategy. The best way we will help our businesses is to listen to our customers' voices in 2023 and stay relevant by adapting to what we hear.

Be curious, act with integrity

Make your one shot your best

At the heart of every business should be a culture that drives behaviours that are genuinely curious about its customers. Everyone should listen to their customers, get to know them and create connections with them one conversation at a time. Show your human side, show them you care, and then act with integrity to make things happen.

Knowledge of all aspects of your business will enable you to provide personalised advice based on their needs rather than your sales targets. Being willing to bend the rules will also help you to go that extra mile and demonstrate that you're prioritising them rather than your business needs, delivering a better customer experience.

Creating solid partnerships built on loyalty goes beyond delivering the excellent service that the customer expects. CX technology will always have its place in creating efficient processes for responding to customer queries, but the human connection will deliver the more awe-inspiring moments. We only have one shot at making customers know they're important to us. It's about understanding what makes your customers tick by listening to them and tailoring how your organisation works with them accordingly.

Sounds straightforward – but are you doing it?

James Hunnybourne

Chief Revenue Officer

"I strongly believe that you live and die by the team you have around you and the way you treat each other. As a builder at heart, I know that to effect change, innovation, and development of any business it all starts with winning the hearts and minds of the people. Ultima recognises and embraces this, and as part of the Ultima family I get to drive the type of culture that promotes creativity and development though diversity of thought and providing a safe and fun environment for people to be themselves. I believe the combination of this inquisitive, creative, and respectful culture is what allows Ultima to continue to be at the cutting edge of customer automation and intelligence Services."