Customers don’t care who owns what part of a business, but organizations often do. This conflict leads to customer frustration and missed opportunities.
Your org chart is most likely split into what the business sees as logical groups. Marketing might include website teams and digital marketing departments — but probably doesn’t include recruiting.
This setup makes logical sense for organizational structure. There are only so many hours in the day or people on a team. Everyone needs to understand their roles and responsibilities. But does the customer need to understand that, too?
I’d argue no, but many companies are designed to create roadblocks in the customer’s journey because of their internal organization. Ultimately, your organizational design can be your customer’s nightmare.
We need to have teams, departments and accountabilities spelled out within any organization. What does this mean for a seamless customer journey? And what can leaders do about it?
Focusing on one big area in B2B can help. Let’s take a look at how onboarding sets the stage for a better customer experience.
Customers Know Who They Like and Trust
When a B2B customer is trying to determine who to call or what to do, the first line of defense is often sales. These are the earliest relationships formed, and for a B2B customer, their “guy” is who they think of when they know they need to call someone.
Sales teams are often frustrated because after the sale is made, it’s time for Customer Success or Account Management to take over the relationship. Or the sales team is fielding customer service issues or payment questions simply because the customer doesn’t know who else to call. So why are the salespeople still getting those calls?
It’s because customers feel known by the time the sale is made. There’s a relationship, there’s trust and there’s shared experience there.
The onboarding relationship is key, yet many organizations are still neglecting this significant part of the B2B customer journey.
When a customer is told to start contacting Jerry instead of James, they might not have the same comfort level. Yet the org chart says that’s the way it has to be!
Related Article: Are You Creating the Best B2B Buyer Customer Experience?
What Do Smart Organizations Do to Create a Better Transition for the Customer?
They get intentional about their experience. They create a customer journey based on customer needs. They also get intentional about the language they use with the customer.
- They don’t call it a “handoff” or a “transfer” as if the customer is a relay baton.
- They do create a warm, personalized experience to build the trust level while both sales and Customer Success are involved. This can be a Kick-Off phase where both trusted parties are involved.
- Once the Customer Success Manager owns the relationships, the initial relationship is not seen as “over.” The customer hears from the salesperson to check in during the first phase of the relationship. (And NOT just when it’s time to renew!)
There is a positive return for those who invest in positive onboarding for B2B customers. That means ensuring customers have what they need, when they need it, to be successful.
Inside many organizations, they discuss things like “prospect education” and “customer redirection” in businesses. But essentially what we mean by those terms is getting the customer to operate the way our business does, not the ways they want to behave.
Onboarding sets expectations. Create a customer-centric journey for the prospect to move into long-term customerhood. Most importantly, the customer journey is outlined from the customer’s perspective. This is where sales, customer success and customer experience can really come together in powerful ways.
Organizations that do this well focus on several things more than organizations that neglect this part of the journey.
- Customer Success and Implementation teams are included early in the journey. They are available for questions and confirmations during the sales process and are often introduced to the prospective customer before the sale is made.
- Customer data makes information sharing available for all involved in the customer journey. This means the customer doesn’t have to repeat their situation. And it means Customer Success can be proactive in guiding the customer along to the next step.
- Sales and Customer Success share common key performance indicators (KPIs) focused on what’s right for the customer. Metrics like adoption rate, time-to-value and service tickets are universally understood. Customer experience measurements are part of the measure of success.
- Communication is easy and flows between the teams. One successful tactic is using Slack or another internal channel to focus on customers in this critical stage of the journey.
- Every team’s focus is the customer’s successful outcome. Sales can invite product experts to explain things to the customer. Customer success may invite subject matter experts to guide the overall customer strategy. Everyone is supportive of customer success in the true meaning of those words.
- The kick-off portion of the journey feels like a celebration. Customers bought something they were excited about — but implementation and bumpy transitions can turn that feeling of excitement into anxiety. A kick-off meeting or phase should focus on building confidence for the customer — in the product, the brand and their new team.
- The customer is invited to provide feedback at every step of their journey. Real-time feedback can be addressed. Patterns and specific customer challenges are discussed and addressed among the cross-functional teams responsible for onboarding customers. Great feedback is not just used for marketing tools like testimonials but also for designing better journeys for all customers.
Customer Success teams and more robust onboarding practices can be powerful ways to deliver better customer experiences. The whole idea of focusing on what will help the customer be more successful is a positive act of engagement.
And it’s important! When customers feel safe with a sale, then entrust their success with the customer success team, they are more likely to use the product they bought. And they are more likely to renew because of liking how they use the product.
Proactive, positive customer experiences are designed with people in mind. B2B customers are still people. They deserve thoughtful transitions and journeys focused on them.