557: 3 Things to Know About Customer Experience in the B2B Marketplace w/ George Brown, Jr.

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to George Brown, Jr., Associate Director at the Institute for the Study of Business Markets.

A relationship with the right referralpartner could be a game changer for any B to be company. So what if you couldreverse engineer these relationships at a moment's notice, start a podcastinvite potential referral partners to be guess on your show and grow yourreferral network faster than ever learn more at sweetfish media. DOTCOM, you're listening to the Beta, be growth,show a potcast dedicated to helping be to be executive, Achiev, explosivegrowth, whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools andresources. You've come to the right place, I'm James Carburry and I'mJonathan Green. Let's get into the show wellcome back to the bee to be gro show.Today we are joined by George Brown. Junior George is the associate directorat the Institute for the Study of business markets, as well as the CEO atB T B advisers. George welcome to the show. Thank you very much look forwardto speaking with you, George. It's it's definitely a pleasure to have you onthe show you are. You are an expert in the in the bead of space, and so todaywe're actually going to be talking about. I think something very coolcustomer experience in the bee to be marketplace, but before we get intotoday's topic, George, maybe you can tell our listeners a little about I sbmand so many incredible things that you and your team are up to over there. NotIf your delighted to do that, the Institute for the Study of BusinessMarkats is is a rather unique consortion on the one side areacademics and other researchers and, on the other side, are practitioners.Typically in leadership, rules N in companies that serve business markets.The organization was founded in the nineteen eighties by acombination of researchers at Penn State and a couple of company leadersfrom companies like Dupont that...

...realized. There was a lot of researchon the consumer market side, but not nearly as much focused on businessmarkets. The organization has grown pretty steadily throughout the years,there's currently over. Fifty member companies, spanning virtually everypart of the business market's environment, from manufacturingcompanies to financial services, companies to companies that provide other types ofsurvaces. Most of them are North American companies, but quite a few ofHem. These days have groval, recion are involved outside the United States andeverything from the established markets of Europe to emerging markets likeChina and India. There's currently h over fifty university organizationsthat are linked to the ISBM. Some of the senior fellows are probably peopleyou've had as guests on your show, because there's been an awful lot ofpublication and bookwriting by the people that are involved in Isb n allfocused on the challenges it exists in business markets, wellthat's fantastic,certainly, the I sbm resume sort of speaks for itself, and so that's justone of the many reasons, George, that we're thrilled to have you on the showtoday, when we are going to be talking about this idea of customer experiencein the B to b marketplace, you're, definitely the right person to come onthe show and talk about this. Can you tell me, I guess, let's, let's startoff how you first became interested in this subject? Wel I got involved inthat subject before I knew that it was really going to be called customerexperience a couple decades ago. Quite a long time ago, I was doing researchon the factors that created relationshipsbetween suppliers and their customers...

...in business markets. It was a researchthat was supported by the strategic accounts management, an association whoobviously were vitally interested in figuring out what what made for a goodcustomer relationship by a supplier and and through that research. I was ableto do interviews and do surveys with over a hundred organizations about halfof them on the supplier signed in about half of them. On the customer side, wecould havea shown that topic alone, because there was awealth of information that came out of that project. But one of the things Ilearned was that customer experience really is a drivingfactor in shaping the strength of of a supply or customer relationship. Iheard an awful lot of stories. I heard stories about how importantdimplementation was that if the customer could not trust the supplier,that was a maybe three strikes indeur outsituation, where the supplier was unlikely to go very far and wining thatcustomers business- and I also heard story after story about peasantsurprise. His unexpected surprises, where a supplier brought an innovationto a customer and just knock them off their feet, with with the good news andand and the value that they were able to bring e down. So that started me out on the process oflearning what it was that made a difference to customers about theirsuppliers and, as I continued to study that every over the years, no sorts ofthemes continue to evole. They remain very important, yeah well and andGeorge one of the things that we we...

...love Um to to get into one O on the Bto b Gro Show is sort of providing ar listeners with some real world examples.Now you had mentioned implementation and innovation as to key themes. So do you have any examplesthat sort of illustrate how those experiences can influence a customers?Perception Ali'll give you an example of of each one of them on the implementation side, I wasworking it for a client and their experiences and what was good and badand ugly about them, and obviously trying to learn what myclient could do better in the future and one of the people that I I spokewith, told a story of we placed an order with that supplier. It was veryimportant. It was critical to our manufacturing process, their truckshowed up at at our loading dock and they opened up the truck and three miceran out. The rest of the truck was empty. They had forgot to load thetruck and he went on to speak at great length about how thatfailure of implementation, logistics problem had adversely impacted on thecompany and how they were so disappointed and ittaught them. This was not a company that they could trust. It was a acompany that they had to be a little bit wary of in terms of how reliable they were on theinnovation side. I'll tell you a positive story, I was working withanother company. They were a packaging supplier and they had a relationship with pretty important company N in thePersonal Care Industry and that personal care supplier had decided to do some innovation ontheir own part. They had come up with a new formula, they thought would bebetter than the old one of their product and they were testing it outand what they found was that...

...the new formula reacted rather badlywith the packaging material and my client in the packager company flewto engineers in from their operations in Germany. They worked with thisPersonal Care Company for almost a month in trying to solve the problem.They came up with a solution and- and you know when I was being told thisstory- The the individual that was telling the story said- These peopleare heros, you know they they they wo, never be forgotten. It was an importantinitiative, inour firm, it was foundering, we didn't know where toturn and they saved the day they made. This is successful initiative and hewent on to talk about how the product that was involved has become a majorsuccess in the market place and and from his perspective they would havenever gotten into the marketplace hit. It had not been for the contribution ofthis supplier that figured out how to solve the packaging problem. Yeah. Well,that's fantastic, and it shows how even in something dry, you're talking aboutpackaging. You know you can leave someone with with an incredibleexperience and I think a lot of cer you know certainly are listeners, know thethe value of that customer experience they're looking to create that wildfactor. It makes you feel good and obviously makes your clients feelfantastic. So if we can all agree that customer experience can be hugely important to to your business toyour firm, you know, I think the natural next question is sort of whatcan be done, then George, to achieve that outcome. Well it it's a challenge.To do that. I mean almost every company says you know we obviously try to havegood customer experiences, but...

...an increasing number of firmsrecognized they haven't taken it on proactively and one of the things that I've learned. II've learned a few secrets to success. One of them is that this requires achange in the customers in the culture of the company H to really focus on their customers.Experience that this isn't simply something you tell the sales people andother people that are in customer facing positions to worry about. It'sreally something that has to be H. Talk to the entire company, because you Kno,just like those two examples, suggest the h problem on the the truck thatarrived empty was not a sailesman's faulter with somebody in the ShippingDepartment and the solution to the packaging problem involved engineersthat h previously had been involved in their own work and product developmentand testing, so changing the culture of the company to get everybody to thinkthis is part of their responsibility to make the experiences of customerspositive and avoid the negative ones notreally. The first step that has tobe taken in Misregard, pervect, okay, so we've got three action areas numberone developing the right kind of culture where everyone in the companyis aware of this idea of enhancing the customer experience. Let's talk aboutthe second Atcion area, okay, the second thing I would focus on is is itrequires some amount of planning. As I said earlier, if you ask peoplethey say, of course we try to make customer experienceas positive. Why dowe need to spend any more time on this? Well, the truth of the matter is: There's often a lot of issues that acompany is on aware of that are getting...

...under the skin of their customers andand if you pu some attention into figuring out what is irritating thecustomers? What are the negatives that they will tell you about and then putsome very concrete plans into place? Then you have a chance of of actuallyachieving something. If you, if you simply let this be platitude and simply sayyou know, we've got to make customer experience positive. Nobody reallyknows what to do. If you tell them and and give them some concrete directions as to the changes that are necessary asto the issues that are bothering their customers, then they can tackle thoseissues and and make a difference, and so plans are very important. Don't justleave it the chance, make it very concrete and and focus some attentionon the specifics that that will make adifference to your pustomers great. So I well Georg, I'm go N, I'm going toput you on the spot again a little bit and sort of ask you. You know if youhave another sort of real world example of a firm that accomplished sort ofthis second action item. You know they they they had a plan and they theyexecuted on it yea. I worked with an engineering and construction firm thattheir CEO took on this challenge and said you know we we really knew need todo a better job, and he said you know we plan h more than I can ever imagineI mean they have plans for everything from safety on the job, to how they'regoing to have construction material'll show up with exactly the right momentonto the job site and everything an and he said, the one thing we don't plan ishow we're going to make our customers happy and and when he started to lookat this and when he put the team together to look at this and one of thethings they realized was.

There were an awful lot of customersand some people call them stake holders and- and he said it was I opening tojust simply put together the contalogue of who are our customers, and then wewent out and we talked to them and asked them what it was. It wasbothering them. What what could we do better? We went to customers that wehad worked with for a long time and h. They gave us an earfol and- and he saidwe came up with some very specific action items that we incorporated intoour planning process that you know on day one when we started a new project.We addressed how weere going to work with our customers to avoid thedisruptions and avoid the experiences that bothered them and andalso do some things that gave them confidence that that we were lookingout for their best interests, not just trying to get the job done and get paidall right. So George, we've got, we've got number one company culture. We'vegot number two sort of planning for the customer experience. What is the thirdaction? Itm We're going to be talking about today. The third action I do isinstitutionalizing the changes that you're trying to make here there's a lot of dimensions of it.It's it' not just having a roll out meeting and then forgetting about it.It's making this an ongoing process. It involves teaching oftentimes thereasons. Customer experiences aren't positive, isn't because of bad people,doing bad things it s because they don't know what are the good thingsthey should be doing so, there's often an educational process building this into performanc reviews. You know if therehave been littor bad experiences.

If you hear about that during yourperformance review. That makes a big difference, an says this matters andand gets the attention and and last we linking this into the company'sprocessies, where it makes sense to do so that that's a very important part ofthe process of institutionalizing focus on customer experience, fantastic, soGeorge, you know we're kindo coming down to the end of today's episode. Doyou have any maybe key. Take Away. Is that you think in particular, you knowart listeners should be shoul should keep in mind that they should actuallytake away from today's episode, sure I I I really focus on two things. One ish. You really have to think about customer experience as involving every employee everyinteraction every day and and if that's the perspective your company has andthe company's leadership have. Then I think you're you're sonly on the path to being successful and then th. Thesecond second thing I would remind people or the the three themes that wetalked about, that building this into the company culturend, not just the customer facing people, the sales teams, but in everydepartment of the customer or of the company making sure they understandpositive customer experiences, part of their responsibility, putting veryconcrete plans not making them nebulous and vague, but focusing onsome,specific actions that customers have communicated our problems and whereimprovement can make a difference. And, thirdly, institutionalizing it hthrough process through performance reviews through ongoing teaching.

It differs from one firm to another,but I think there's three three steps are important ones to to making adifference and and improving your own companies ability to have positiveexperiences enjoyed by your customers. Fantastic again, we're we're talkingwith George Brown junior with the Institute for the Study of businessmarkets. We are so thrilled to have gotten connected with. I SBM we'regoing to be actually featuring more members moving forward, look forward toto additional episodes, but George in the meantime M Kn. If any of ourlisteners are interested in finding out more about the I sbm they're interestedin today's topic, or they want to connect with you what's the best wayfor them to go about doing that. Well, certainly, we would invite you to visitthe ISPM website. It's www, I sp m dot or H. you'll find a lot of informationabout the organization on that website, and people are certainly invited toreach out and contact me with questions. I'd be happy to to respond to them. Myemaiy o address is GFP and gorge. Frank flow h. He she obe advisors, Dot Com. Thank everyone. Hat listened to this,and I thank you for having me on the show I enjoyed it well. Thank you,George Tirs, a pleasure having you on the shelf. If you're a be to be marketer, we wantto feature you on sites like Puffington, post, social media, Examir and chiefmarketer. Every week we send out a question related to be to be marketing.We use the responses to those questions to fuel the content. We write forreally popular websites to head over to sweetfish media COM, backlash,questions and sign up today. Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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