The Gist

  • Drop the tech and get human. Invest in leadership to optimize the human aspects of a customer’s CX journey.

  • Audit your CX. Doing so will help you better understand the customer journey and perspective.

  • Give tech a supporting role. Focusing on a human-centered program plan will ensure future success.

When I look at standard B2B CX content and recommendations, I’m befuddled. Much of the content is brilliant, yet unrealistic for many companies. Even with the methodology, models, tools, analytics and reporting at our fingertips, actual customer experience is still quite painful. 

If that stings a little because you, your team or your company are invested in optimizing CX, consider this: How are you treated as a B2B customer? How great is your experience? Fair? Abysmal? Lukewarm at best? How likely is it that you’re really outperforming the market status quo when it comes to CX?

Maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board. As renowned management consultant Gary Hamel said: “Right now your company has 21st century-enabled processes, mid-20th century management processes, all built atop 19th century management principles.”

Although this is disheartening to hear, he isn’t wrong, right? 

What’s Not Helpful: Data unHealth

There’s an ever-present hype about data and new technologies, but if your company has been around for more than five years, you’re likely struggling daily with the poor state of data health internally. The amount of cobbling data trying to make sense of the current state of anything is troubling.

As FiveTran noted in its study, The State of Data Management: “Companies are paying huge sums only to achieve bad outcomes. For all the time and money spent on data pipelines, data is still not fresh, leading to old and error-prone information that is costing companies money.” 

If we don’t get up and close and personal with customer journeys, the “data” won’t illuminate the hardest challenges. For an eye-opening view that you can then optimize, drop the tech and get human. Put aside the data, analytics and measuring (just for a moment) to invest some leadership time auditing the human parts of the process from the prospect and customer perspective.

Related Article: How Human Insight Enhances AI-Driven Marketing Personalization

Audit Your CX — Now!

Leaders, please go audit your CX experience — from top of the funnel to as far down as you can go. Don’t just read reports or ask someone else to do it for you. There’s no better way to truly understand your customer’s (and prospect’s) perspective than walking through the human side of the process.


Depending on the type of product you sell, you might be able to audit this process yourself, although it’s more likely you’ll need to recruit some friends and colleagues to legitimately be your prospects. You can anonymously tag along with them on the journey as pre-customers — from business development representative (BDR) calls to demos, through successful closure, onboarding, the 90-day milestone and forever thereafter.

It’s crucial to audit a standard onboarding experience. Then, you can understand how well your customer is doing 90 days after onboarding them and help the team assess what went wrong. Inadequate onboarding, a rampant issue, leads to poor customer "health," which then leads to churn. 

Learning Opportunities

Given that your competitors are likely not implementing this strategy, it could provide you with a significant competitive advantage.


The gaps are apparent, so now what? Although you can’t fix everything at once, you can put a roadmap in place to address these problems. We let the available tech lead too often in CX, saying things like: “Oh here’s a cool tool that can help us do X.” This is a Band-Aid approach. We must optimize for humans, and let the tech follow. Make a plan and follow it.

Leader/Customer Partnering

If you’re at a complex B2B sale, each leader should always be partnered with at least one customer — both happy and unhappy. Work hard to cover every lifecycle stage.The leader should be copied on everything, participate in quarterly business reviews (QBRs), etc. The customer will welcome this, but your customer success manager (CSM) or account manager (AM) will be quite uncomfortable at first. Eventually, it becomes the new normal. 

Over the last 10 years, I’ve been increasingly consistent in staying partnered with a customer in each of my marketing roles. It's an invaluable insight. 

Rinse, Repeat

Once all the steps are in place, do this forever and always. Stay involved on the leadership side, even though it’s a difficult process to start. Just like riding a bike, this practice will become second nature.

Related Article: 3 Basic Human Psychological Needs That Matter in Customer Experience

Optimize For Humans, Support With Tech

Once you have a baseline for the qualitative and quantitative view of customer experience — as well as a prioritized roadmap of critical issues — then you can start to program-ize. Ideally, this program will include modifications to the pre-customer process, CSM/AM training and objectives, structure of QBRs and support and success modifications. It will likely impact products as well.

There’s a myriad of ways to address CX challenges, yet we are obsessed with the tech side of things, regularly slighting other avenues to improve. However, no amount of data can help you truly understand qualitatively where and how your CX is broken. But leaders-in-the-loop can. 

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