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5 questions for… Christoph Resch, Partner at valantic in the customer experience sector

Image of a woman on a laptop, sticky notes and Christoph Resch, Managing Director at valantic Customer Engagement and Commerce Germany

The customer experience should be the focus of all business processes. We spoke with Christoph Resch, Partner and Managing Director at valantic in the customer experience sector, about the change in B2B business, measurable KPIs, and the point at which customer experience should not end.

What are the most important prerequisites for companies when they want to improve their customers’ customer experience (CX)?

Take a step back and take a look at your products as a potential customer might do. This explains a lot, for customer experience is not made by companies, but demanded by customers. And the companies have to react to this. Elementary here is the mindset: move away from departmental boundaries toward seamless processes that focus on the customer. All employees play a key role here, for they have contact with the customers. Departments are the internal view that the customer does not see – and doesn’t want to see. Customers experience contact with the company from beginning to end, from placing an order to delivery – we say “from the mouse to the house.” If processes are not continuous, from end to end, and the customer is not at the center of all interactions, then there can be no outstanding customer experience. And because customers dictate the expectations, we speak of “end-to-end in the age of the customer.”

Once this mindset is established, of course you also need technologies that can map these thought processes. And as a first step, isolated data silos have to be connected so that intelligent processes along the entire value-creation chain are even possible.

CX is no task for ‘marketing’ or ‘sales’; it’s a task for the entire company. Management plays a special exemplary role here. For only once management understands how important customer experience is for the company’s success and makes this topic visible at the company can customer experience actually be improved.

You focus on B2B. What can B2B learn from B2C with regard to customer experience?

B2C has always been a pioneer with regard to CX, from the Mom and Pop store to Amazon. In B2C, personalization and the emotional aspect of a purchase are a matter of course and they are essential for survival. For a while already, we have been experiencing the consumerization of B2B: employees want easy order processes and are using ever more online shop systems for their B2B orders; these are structured like the familiar shopping platforms for end consumers. For in the end, people are interacting with people in the B2B sector as well, not bots with bots. Not yet. And people love the simplicity of shopping, which they have grown accustomed to over the years and truly appreciate. People don’t change their behavior just because the door to the plant or office has closed behind them.

Why is the return on experience (ROX) so important and how can it be measured?

The term “return on experience” or ROX for short, comes from Batten&Company. It refers to the customer’s purchase experience. The measurement of return on experience helps companies understand how they profit from investments made that relate directly to customers’ interaction with the brand. In PwC’s 2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey, PwC takes up the term and claims that ROX is the new ROI.

We also see the increasing importance of return on experience. For thanks to digitalization and globalization, it is increasingly difficult to differentiate using selection and price; the customer experience itself becomes the crucial differentiation factor. While return on investment measures how much the company has invested and in what time frame the investment pays off through higher revenues, return on experience is much more difficult to determine and measure. It relates to correlations that are not visible at first glance. However, these influence the customer experience nevertheless and have a positive effect on the entire development of the company. Just like customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction. In a 2018 study, Gartner revealed the influence of employee satisfaction on customer satisfaction. In the long term, investment in employee satisfaction pays off, but it’s difficult to measure in the short term.

Typical CX metrics are customer loyalty and loyalty KPIs such as customer satisfaction, frequency of problem-solving on initial customer service call, and the number of repeat orders. However, KPIs such as delivery timeliness of products and the number of complaints can also be evaluated. However, ROX is aimed more at the mindset than at classic KPIs, which are nevertheless still important.

Last but not least, with these KPIs you can see where something didn’t work and take timely actions to correct this. We always advise our customers to collect data at every possible touchpoint with the customer and to evaluate it. Only this way can you make valid statements about the profitability of an investment in customer experience.

When should you upgrade to the SAP Customer Experience Suite?  

There are a lot of solutions in the SAP product portfolio, all of which can be integrated with one another. The Customer Experience Suite C/4HANA focuses on CX solutions that are all strong in and of themselves, but are unmatched in their coordination with the so-called operational data (O-data) from a classic ERP system such as S/4HANA.

SAP C/4HANA offers a solution portfolio for experience data (X-data) and supports interaction with customers across all touchpoints, the analysis of the interactions, the derivation of customer loyalty measures, and the securing of the private sphere with very strong consent management systems. And it does all of this with an impressive UX for the user.

Operational data and experience data are used to create a customer-centered company perfectly attuned to the customer’s needs that offers an outstanding CX.

Here’s a concrete example: only if production delivers the goods sold in the time promised and in the quality promised can the CX be good. Even if somebody as production manager “only” wants to optimize production, he is still jointly responsible for optimal CX in the end.

Last but not least: What do companies need to watch if they want to focus more on customers and where can they sensibly begin?

It’s very important not to want too much at once. This is a change process that can and should be completed in small steps. It’s also a learning process. Let’s remind ourselves: the mindset is what matters. Existing thought patterns have to be broken down and changed. We have to learn a lot of new vocabulary and in particular, we have to ask the right questions. The question “why should we do all of this, things were just fine before?” has to be answered with  “why-how-what”: Who is my customer? Then the term “persona” comes into play. A prototypical definition of the various customer types. How do I interact with the customer? Now a user story is added to the persona. What are the first steps? This is how you can start.

It’s actually not hard – we advise that you discuss matters in suitable formats, for example in one of our in-house networking and workshop events about customer experience, the CX Insights or in online forums. And then one thing will lead to another. And: the CX should be anchored in the corporate guidelines and exemplified, whether in daily business, at the company’s new year’s reception or its summer party. For CX is only effective if the EX also fits, the employee experience.

My last recommendation: CRM is not the solution, it’s only the means to an end. You have to go a step further and sketch out the customer journey “from the mouse to the house” – with all steps, regardless of whether they come from the company itself or from suppliers and partners. Only then can you truly focus on customers and make them happy for the long run.    

Thank you very much for the conversation, Christoph!

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