How To Create Customer-Centric B2B Experiences

The B2B space is often an overlooked area for customer experience. But customer-centric experiences are crucial in the B2B world and come from listening to customers and continually evolving.

When Kristi Langdon joined Daimler Trucks, she saw the company was incredibly product-focused, but not very customer-focused. The company was successful because of its great products, but Langdon knew B2B was shifting its focus to give more power to customers. She stepped into her current role as Daimler’s Head of Customer Experience and worked with the CEO to lead an effort to put customers at the center of Daimler’s B2B experiences.

Daimler’s true first effort into customer centricity came in November 2017 with its Customer Experience Day. All 22,000 Daimler employees around the world paused their normal work and spent the day listening to customers and learning about their experiences of doing business with Daimler. During those sessions, one customer made a comment that has become a driving force in the company: “You have great people and an amazing product, but your processes need work. We’ve got to work together on your processes.”

Customer Experience Day also introduced employees to design thinking, Daimler’s new approach to customer experience. Employees broke into groups with trained facilitators to practice empathetic listening and creating prototypes to solve problems and improve processes. The entire day showed employees the true customer experience, what can be improved and how their work makes a difference. Daimler’s Customer Experience Day is now an annual occurrence and reminder that everyone in the company has a role to play in customer experience.

By listening to customers, Langdon and her team learned that customers’ main pain points were a lack of communication and nearly everything about truck service and repairs. From there, the customer experience team looked for ways to automate processes to create smoother customer interactions and more self-service options.

Leaning in to technology to better serve customers requires removing silos, especially between the business and IT sides of the company. As Langdon says, customer-centric models require partnerships between departments. Daimler is focused on shifting technology investments and increasing skills of the workforce so its people and developers know how to best serve customers and help with automation.

Creating customer-centric experiences means being vulnerable and willing to listen to feedback that isn’t always pleasant. Langdon and her team discovered that Daimler customers have to contact the company an average of six times to get a problem solved, which was much higher than they thought. Daimler is working to lower the number so that customers only have to contact the company once or even not at all because of proactive service that reaches out to customers before problems arise. Getting regular feedback from customers and being willing to listen and improve the unpleasant aspects of the business helps Daimler stay connected with customers and constantly improve.

Daimler’s push towards customer centricity is continual. Building customer relationships, opening feedback channels and leveraging technology helps the company deliver strong B2B experiences and create a competitive advantage.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC.

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Blake Morgan is the bestselling author of The Customer of the Future. Sign up for her new course here.

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