Introducing Forrester's B2B Tech Customer Experience Index Methodology

TJ Keitt

Since 2007, Forrester has helped consumer brands evaluate the experience they deliver to their customers with our Customer Experience Index (CX Index™). This methodology powerfully demonstrates to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies the link between CX and customer loyalty. Business-to-business (B2B) firms can benefit from a similar methodology to assess their emerging CX practices. Using the B2C-oriented CX Index as a foundation, we created the Forrester B2B Tech Customer Experience Index, which we are unveiling today.

The B2B Tech CX Index is designed to account for the key differences between B2B and B2C technology companies in managing a customer experience:

  • The number of stakeholders within a single account. In a single B2B account there are numerous "customers" -- individuals who interact directly with the vendor or its products. This can include business analysts, procurement officers, tech management executives, systems administrators, end users, and help desk staff. Because B2B tech companies have to account for many different stakeholders, the B2B Tech CX Index captures this range of customers by surveying both business leaders and technologists.
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B2B Customer Experience Professionals: Do You Know Who Your Customers Are?

TJ Keitt

In April 2015, we started a conversation about what is different between business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) customer experience (CX). That early discussion focused on the fact that in B2B scenarios, there isn't one customer; there are multiple stakeholders within a client account whose work depends on interactions with the vendor. Now we're ready to elevate this conversation to its next level: How do B2B CX pros help their businesses find the stakeholders who matter?

I know what you're saying: "Don't all client stakeholders matter?" Yes — you want to make sure that each individual in an account who interacts with your firm has an experience that helps them achieve their goals. But when business leaders assess the value of customer experience, they want to know that it contributes to revenue growth, a business success indicator. So when B2B CX pros examine customer experience, they must understand the perceptions of stakeholders who influence:

  • Retention. Who are the stakeholders who must see value in the vendor's products and services before the buyer(s) renews the contract?
  • Upsell and cross-sell. Who are the stakeholders whose perceptions of value influence their colleagues' decision to acquire more products and services from the vendor?
  • Advocacy. Who are the stakeholders whose opinion of the vendor can sway their colleagues' or industry counterparts' decision to do business with the vendor?
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Brands In China Have High CX Aspirations But Most Fail To Deliver

Ryan Hart

With recent drops in global stock markets and all eyes on China’s economy, the timing of the China CX Index report couldn’t be more serendipitous. While customer experience (CX) most likely doesn't have a direct impact on all this sudden share volatility, our research shows that there is a strong correlation between CX and revenue growth.

Forrester’s Business Technographics™ data shows that CX improvement is a growing priority for companies in China: 70% of tech and business decision-makers indicated that improving the experience of their customers was a high or critical priority for 2015 and 2016. However, CX Index scores reveal that these aspirations have yet to manifest themselves in actions and — more importantly — results.

Evolved from the inaugural assessment we completed last year, The China Customer Experience Index, 2015 now includes loyalty elements to the mix to gauge how well brands in China are at delivering quality customer experiences that create and sustain customer loyalty. This year, we examined 60 brands across five industries in China: banking, insurance, retail, eCommerce, and mobile device manufacturing.

At a high level, the results of 9,000 customer surveys in China revealed that:

  • No brands stand out as especially good or bad. The good news: No brands ended up in the very poor category. The bad news: none achieved excellent scores either. The vast majority of brands (80%) rated as just OK; 5% landed in the poor category, and 15% qualified as good.
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Forrester’s Summit for Marketing Leaders Is Coming To Sydney September 15th!

Michael Barnes

I really cannot believe it’s been nearly twelve months since our last Sydney event. But it’s official, we’re now only four weeks away from Forrester’s Summit For Marketing Leaders in Sydney.

This year’s theme is “Connect, Engage, Deliver.” Why that theme? Well, we know from our research that firms in Australia and New Zealand are prioritizing customer experience, but struggling to deliver results. That’s why we’ve tailored this event around three key topics: how to connect with distracted, empowered customers; how to engage customers once those connections are made; and how to nurture customer obsession as a strategic imperative throughout the organization.

Our agenda is packed with marketing executives from leading organizations focused on customer obsession. Key topics they’ll cover include:

  • Driving brand leadership in the age of the customer.
  • Creating seamless brand experiences across the digital and physical divide.
  • Understanding the emotions which drive CX for your brand and how to create them.
  • Reinventing digital user experiences to define and deliver superior CX.
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How To Make The Case For Customer Experience - For B2B Pros

Deanna Laufer

Are you working as a CX pro in a B2B company? And do you find it challenging to make the case for your CX program? You are not alone. In fact, many CX pros in B2B companies we spoke with struggled to get funding for their efforts: because they can't isolate the role of CX in driving financial success, they lack insight into how different clients’ experiences affect purchasing decisions, or they don't gather sufficient data about these experiences. That’s why Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian and I researched how B2B companies like Cisco Systems, Sage Software, Optum, Shell, and Tetra Pak have conquered these challenges and built a burning platform for their CX initiatives.

CX professionals managed to overcome these challenges by creating the preconditions for success. Following their lead, you should:

  • Rethink metrics and analytics to link CX to financials. CX pros need to look beyond the usual metrics like revenue or NPS to find the metrics that help link CX to business success.. For example food packaging company Tetra Pak found that a custom partnership index was a better predictor of sales and volume growth than other metrics they tested.
  • Use customer understanding tools to segment clients by role and influence. Working with internal stakeholders that cross the customer life cycle, CX pros can use qualitative research or journey mapping to understand the different roles within client accounts and the role they play in overall account health. For example, Walker Information conducts qualitative research with its client’s customers to identify the decision-makers and user.
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How To Win Funding For CX In B2B – 4 Steps To Building A Burning Platform To Spark Action

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

Are you working as a CX pro in a B2B company? And do you find it challenging to make the case for your CX program? You are not alone.

In fact, many CX pros in B2B companies we spoke with struggled to get funding for their efforts --because they can't isolate the role of CX in driving financial success, they lack insight into how different clients’ experiences affect purchasing decisions, or they don't gather sufficient data about these experiences.

That’s why Deanna Laufer and I researched how B2B companies like Cisco Systems, Sage Software, Optum, Shell, and Tetra Pak have conquered these challenges and built a burning platform for their CX initiatives.

CX professionals managed to overcome these challenges by creating the preconditions for success. Following their lead, you should:

  • Rethink metrics and analytics to link CX to financials. CX pros need to look beyond the usual metrics like revenue or NPS to find the metrics that help link CX to business success.. For example food packaging company Tetra Pak found that a custom partnership index was a better predictor of sales and volume growth than other metrics they tested.
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Book Mini-Review: "Customer Experience: What, How, And Why Now"

Harley Manning

Over the weekend, I read the manuscript for Don Peppers' upcoming book, Customer Experience: What, How, and Why Now.

Because Don is a talented writer, and because I love customer experience, it wasn’t hard for me to start reading it. It was, however, hard to stop reading it. If you’re also into customer experience, you’ll no doubt have a similar reaction when it comes out.

What I like most about the book is that Peppers consistently grounds customer experience in business fundamentals. For example, he points out that the decision to focus on customer experience should never be binary: You don’t have to be customer-centric or product-centric, nor does spending to deliver a better CX mean wasting money. The reality is that focusing on customer experience can lead to new and better products and help create an even more profitable business — provided that you understand it.

Of course, learning to understand the practical aspects of customer experience can be hard work — much like attending a particularly tough business class. But that’s not the case here. Peppers makes the nuts and bolts of customer experience engaging and even visceral. To see what I mean, check out two of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • "If you think about it, a customer is really just a bundle of future cash flows, with a memory. And these future cash flows will increase or decrease based on how the customer remembers being treated, today."
  • “Customers don’t necessarily stay because they’re satisfied, but they often leave because they’re not.”
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New Research On Making The Case For CX In B2B — Be Part Of This Research

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

Deanna Laufer and I are collaborating on a new report on how to make the case for customer experience in B2B. And we'd love your inputs.

How will clients benefit from this report? 

With longer sales cycles, fewer customer accounts, and an abundance of client roles and influencers, B2B companies are challenged in making the link between improving customer experience (CX) and financial results. But without this link, B2B companies will struggle to get adequate funding to sustain their CX programs over the long term. To help CX professionals at B2B companies overcome challenges to justifying their CX programs, this report will explore:

  • What do customer and business data CX pros need to collect to support their business cases?
  • Which are the right metrics for modeling the relationship between customer experience quality and business success?
  • How can CX pros apply their models to proactively improve business outcomes?
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The Data Digest: Align Technology Investments To Thrive In The Age Of The Customer

Marc Jacobson

Forrester is helping its clients better understand the Age of the Customer, a tectonic business shift characterized by technology innovations that have empowered customers in new and disruptive ways. With computing power we could only have dreamed of just a generation ago now in the hands of well over a billion individuals, businesses are scrambling to keep up with relentlessly growing customer expectations and demands.

A recent Forrester report, called ‘The CIO's Blueprint For Strategy In The Age Of The Customer’, provides CIOs with a strategy to help their companies thrive in these new times. In addition to transforming customer experience with a measurable approach, the authors argue that customer obsessed organizations must:

1.       Accelerate digital business to deliver greater agility and customer value

2.       Embrace the mobile mind shift to serve customers in their moments of need

3.       Turn big data into business insights for continuous improvement

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Video Recap: Day Two Of Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum East 2014

Harley Manning

Last week I blogged a video recap of day one of Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum East, 2014. I had originally planned that post to cover both days of the forum, which has grown to become Forrester’s largest event in our 30+ year history. But at some point I realized that there was just too much material to cram into a single post.

Which led, inevitably, to this post with my video recap of day two.

If you were also at CX East, here’s a reminder of what happened on that second day. And if you weren’t there, here’s a preview of the types of things you’ll see at our Customer Experience West in Anaheim on 11/6 – 11/7 and our Customer Experience Forum EMEA in London on 11/17 – 11/18.

Rick Parrish, Senior Analyst, Forrester

Rick Parrish kicked off the morning with a major update to our research on the customer experience ecosystem, which we define as: The web of relations among all aspects of a company — including its customers, employees, partners, and operating environment — that determine the quality of the customer experience.

That web of relationships often leads to unintended consequences for both frontline employees and customers. Why? Because back office players take well-intentioned but misguided actions – like what happened with the US federal government in this example from Rick. 

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