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PHOTO: Charles Deluvio

Over the past five years, marketing operations, sales operations and data teams at large business-to-business (B2B) software as a service (SaaS) companies have  been investing in their customer data with the goal of improving the buyer's journey or the pre-sales process. In particular, they recognized the need for a complete view of their accounts (including subsidiaries and divisions), global account addresses, customer contacts, and prospects for sales and marketing effectiveness. 

They invested in data management technology to consolidate their first-party data and enrich it with third-party data like Dun & Bradstreet. Their goals were to: 

  • Improve marketing effectiveness by powering marketing automation applications like Marketo, Marketing Cloud, Eloqua, Pardot, and other marketing apps with better customer data.
  • Improve sales effectiveness by powering CRM applications, like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, and other sales apps with better customer data.

By making these investments, these are now able to understand their buyers’ journey, identify the key people in their customers' buying centers, and execute account-based strategies and cross-sell and up-sell campaigns. As a result, they have significantly improved lead to opportunity conversion rates, optimized territory alignment, and increased cross-sell and up-sell success.

Assigning Ownership for B2B Customer Experiences

In our current experience economy, where customer experience shapes buying decisions for both consumers and business-to-business buyers, the data innovators and customer experience teams at B2B SaaS companies have decided not to leave their customer experience to chance. They’ve started to invest in the post-sales process. They understand that to boost customer retention, increase the chances of renewals and expansion, and optimize the lifetime value (LTV) of customer accounts, they need to invest in improving the post-sales customer journey and the customer experience.

Let’s explore what they are doing differently. 

The first step to improving the customer experience (CX) is to assign ownership. Many companies have appointed roles such as Chief Customer Officer or Chief Customer Experience Officer. This role is responsible for leading CX imperatives. They have consolidated their post-sales organizations such as customer success managers (CSMs), services and support under this leader. 

feedback on customer sentiment of brands

Related Article: Do You Abandon Your Customers Post-Sale?

Connected B2B Customer Data Leads to Connected B2B Customer Experiences 

The C-Suite understands the financial value of having an enterprise customer data strategy. They recognize that strategically managing customer data is critical to improving B2B customer experiences. Without a complete view of the customer across applications and data silos, technical support teams aren’t empowered to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. 

First, let’s take a look at the operational impact on real-time customer interactions. While they are held accountable to resolving issues quickly and completely when customers raise support tickets, support teams struggle to resolve issues as quickly as they could if they had access to a real-time understanding of the full customer relationship. This includes a customer’s products and services purchased, their contracts, entitlements, tenants, current and past support tickets, etc. Also, it’s difficult to improve KPIs like time to resolution when support teams are slowed down by their inability to locate important customer data. 

But disconnected customer data doesn’t just have a negative impact on customer interactions. Disconnected customer data also creates an unnecessary obstacle to the analytics teams who are responsible for generating reliable actionable insights about their business. It’s important for large B2B SaaS companies to get reliable results from their predictive analytics initiatives. They want to have an accurate understanding of the health of their customers, the likelihood of case escalation, of customer churn and of purchasing other products and services. 

Companies aren’t willing to roll the dice on customer experience anymore. They are investing in improving customer data management because they recognize it’s too risky to leave to chance. 

Related Article: Marry Customer Data Platforms and Master Data Management for Your Customer Data Needs

Post-Sales Customer Data Is Often Scattered Throughout the Organization

Post-sales customer data is often disconnected and includes inconsistent account and contact information, products purchased, contracts, entitlements, tenants, tickets, case escalations, feature requisitions, etc. 

The investments these B2B SaaS companies are making in customer data is therefore not only about acquisition of new customers, but retention too. They want higher renewal rates. They want to uncover more opportunities for expansion and for more of those deals to close. They want to increase the lifetime value (LTV) of their customer relationships. They are using their data as a strategic advantage. Their goal is to create a frictionless customer experience based on a real-time understanding of their customer relationship and to gain more reliable and actionable insights about their business.

Related Article: Old MacDonald Met a Data Silo, E-I-E-I-O

Current Market Realities: CX Initiatives Are Moving Full Speed Ahead

It's encouraging in the current market conditions to see B2B SaaS companies moving full steam ahead with their customer experience initiatives. These leaders understand any investments designed to put customers, and customer data, at the heart of their business will only help them be more competitive in the recovery. In fact, the three key areas of focus for most Global 2000 executives today are to serve, protect and retain their customers. 

Let’s talk about what that means in the experience economy. 

  • Serving customers requires a deep customer understanding for hyper-personalization. Customers need to be recognized as valuable individuals and that requires consolidating data from multiple sources into trusted customer profiles. Businesses want to enrich their customer profiles with third-party data. They want to better understand preferences from transactions and interactions. With this much deeper understanding of customers, they can drive hyper-personalized experiences at scale across all touch points, including digital and human interactions, based on a real-time understanding of the relationship.
  • Protecting customers requires protecting their data. Customers provide brands with valuable information about their consent and their communication preferences. Especially now that brands want to be more empathetic to their customers, they are elevating the importance of how they manage consent and communication preferences across channels and brands. By managing customer data in a more strategic and centralized way, they can also simplify compliance with privacy laws such as GDPR, CCPA and any privacy laws on the horizon.
  • Retaining customers requires loyalty-building experiences and innovation. Customers expect great products, services and experiences from their SaaS vendors. Leaders want their organizations to better understand their customers so they can create innovative products and services to build loyalty and to monetize new revenue streams fast.