You may have noticed that most publically available research into Customer Experience is focused on consumer products and companies. There are a few good reasons why this happens:
- We all are consumers, and it is easier to write and to relate as a reader to examples and ideas that involve consumer related issues and experiences.
- The evolution of social customer affords greater transparency – consumer goods/services customers are rarely limited in their capacity of sharing their experiences (customer feedback) publically. Corporate customers are severely restricted from doing that, limiting the opportunity for open analysis and discussion of specific examples and practices. We, humans, learn best from stories.
- B2B Customer Experience Management practitioners often limit their ambitions to Customer Satisfaction and User Experience areas of the discipline. Tim Carrigan explored the set of beliefs in this excellent article – B2B versus B2C – Debunking Five Customer Experience Myths.
It is important to design the research based on outside-in perspective because poorly focused B2B CX inquiry can miss business targets entirely and discredit a CEM initiative.
Here is an example.
A couple of years ago we were working with a medium-sized B2B software company that was relatively well known to business community in its market segment. The company engaged with most of its sales prospects via their website, where visitors could learn about the products and download a free copy for evaluation. While the site traffic and the rate of downloads were reasonably healthy, a conversion from freemium to paid use license was miserably low. Two possible hypotheses were developed to explain this problem:
- Download and installation complexity may have prevented users from experiencing the value of the products. We could measure a number of downloads, which was reasonably good, but not how they were installed, configured or used.
- The paid product lack of valuable functions and features compared to the free version and did not provide sufficient motivation for users to convert.
Marketing launched a survey initiative to validate the first hypothesis and designed a 5 question form that was emailed to the visitors a few days after they downloaded the free version of a product. Despite a very low participation rate (below 1%) the survey responses overwhelmingly rejected the first hypothesis as 89% of respondents had no negative experience with download and installation.
The second supposition proved to be much more difficult to tackle. Survey questions about product functionality yielded even lower response and provided no clear guidance. A focus group was presented with a list of functions and features considered for future development which participants were asked to prioritize. They were asked if inclusion of these high priority functions into the paid version of the product would help them justify conversion from the free copy, and the majority gave the positive answer. However, upon the new version release the conversion rate did not improve at all, and corporate management was coming hard on Marketing, who pointed a finger on Engineering who pointed it right back – the blame games began!
I will continue with the conclusion of this story next week.