Can businesses have both acquisition and retention dominant in their corporate DNA?
Customer Attuned and its partners carried out an international research study over the summer to explore what will be the defining characteristics of B2B customer management (CM) strategy to 2018.
The research’s aim was to explore which of these capability areas are of most strategic importance in different sectors. It was stressed that they are ALL IMPORTANT, but each business needs to decide which of them will be defining characteristics of ITS OWN corporate DNA.
Results & Key Findings
Senior professionals with CM responsibility were targeted in companies or business units that are B2B. 105 people responded representing fifteen different sectors. The Customer Attuned Assessment (CAA®) model (illustrated) has twelve “golden threads” of critical B2B capability across knowledge, strategy, planning, implementation & results.
The online survey described a desired state for each capability area that could describe a B2B business in 2018, and respondents were asked to prioritise them and answer one open-ended question as to why the top priority was chosen.
Loyalty is king – Relationship and Value Building (Farming) was in the top 3 of 50% of respondents: “Given the propensity for a small number of large, influential, and profitable customers dictating the fortunes of the business, then the investment behind customer connectivity & interweaving strategies becomes a clear priority” (Consumer Durables, UK)
Staff interpersonal skills and account team stability will remain of vital importance within B2B: “Excellent customer satisfaction cannot be delivered unless employees are happy, emotionally engaged, knowledge empowered and willing to put in discretionary effort to deliver the company’s commitments” (Non-profit, India)
Brand & Proposition was the thread that was rated as no. 1 priority by the highest proportion of individuals (but only 35% included it in their top 3 so it came out 3rd overall), showing that many B2B companies still have significant work to do in CVP (customer value proposition) development: “We are in the process of re-defining our proposition and making it more customer-centric. Having been product-led for decades, we have to deliver what customers want, not what we want to supply” (Auto, UK)
The two golden threads that relate to acquisition (Hunting and Market Targeting) were rated 4th & 5th overall – indeed they were top priority in the Americas and in the Telco & Tech and Manufacturing sectors. Nearly half of the respondents who rated Hunting as top priority also had Farming in their top three, whereas only 12% of the vice versa situation occurred (those prioritising Farming also placing Hunting in the top 3). These companies will need to be incredibly well led, organised and measured to create a culture that is effective at both
B2B companies should read this report and develop their own strategies for customer management excellence – especially if they aim for both Hunting and Farming to be defining characteristics of their corporate DNA.