Are your B2B team members as customer-centric as they think?
Our research shows leading companies emphasise the critical importance of customer-centric thinking in driving growth. Yet while customer-centric thinking can be fully embraced at a leadership level in a business, it is essential that the whole business thinks and acts this way for the customer to truly benefit, and to make growth happen. It’s easy to say but difficult to do. In this blog we describe 2 common barriers for B2B teams to overcome, and 5 deceptively simple questions that have worked with our clients’ sales, marketing and product development teams to enable them to join up over the customer agenda.
Common barriers to customer centricity
Our work with leading businesses across B2B has identified two common barriers to getting people to think and act in a truly customer-centric way:
- People often misunderstand what customer-centricity really means. There can be a feeling that having a long-established relationship with a customer and knowing them well at a personal level means that we know how they think. But the reality is that we also need a detailed knowledge of the individual’s objectives and priorities, as well as a wealth of information about the business. This includes the business ambition, its challenges, strategy, operating model, current performance and the relevant decision makers.
- Conversely, the second barrier is people not appreciating the value of what they do know about the customer, and therefore failing to share it with others. A business may have the potential for a good level of customer insight if all the individual nuggets of knowledge were joined up, but if these are disconnected then the value of the whole will not be realised.
To start a different conversation in your business, raising awareness of the real level of customer-centric thinking and prompt teams to share insights both big and small, try these 5 questions. They seem simple, but in our experience they are powerful catalysts to change.
5 Power Questions to make change happen now
Question 1: How we gain insight now
What do you currently do to understand the needs of your customers?
This question unlocks the variety of ways of gaining customer insight and helps engage employees in the topic. When asked across a team, the answers can showcase examples of excellence and help individuals gain a realistic understanding of how their way of working compares with others – including where there are significant gaps in how individuals act to know their customer better.
Question 2: Insight best practice
Discuss 2 companies you think are truly customer centric. What do they do differently?
Now discuss 2 examples of customer centricity you have experienced in our business.
These questions help inspire the team by looking outside the organisation, raising the bar in terms of what good looks like, and sharing internal best-practice. Our experience shows that teams are now engaged in the topic and open to applying best practice from other organisations to improve their own level of customer-centricity. Change is already starting to happen.
Question 3: Impact
Consider a current project you are working on.
Imagine you have unlocked a deeper customer understanding that would benefit the team or the business. How could you unlock this insight, and what could the positive impact be upon the customer and the business?
This Power Question enables every individual to imagine their own positive impact through customer centricity. It creates emotional engagement and motivates them to be proactive and to change behaviour.
Question 4: Share your insights
Think about what you know about the customer that no-one else might know.
How might others benefit from this, and what can you do to make this happen?
Here we can unlock the value of the customer understanding held by every individual. Individuals often underrate their own knowledge or assume everyone else knows it, but in fact they may possess nuggets of insights that would have real value to others.
Question 5: Action
Think about what you do that has a positive impact upon the Customer Experience.
How can you use insight and customer understanding to do this even better?
Agree one customer centric action that you will do in the next 3 weeks.
This final Power Question takes the confidence of the team and prompts application on the job which can be followed up in 3-week periods to benefit the business quickly.
Do try the questions with your teams and let us know how it goes. And, of course, if you want help building the capabilities of your teams in sales, marketing, digital and HR, do get in touch.