We recently spoke with the head of customer experience (CX) at a large industrial manufacturer. This $25B+ business-to-business (B2B) company had a long history of being very product-focused, but the CX leader has been able to shift the organization’s culture to become much more customer-centric. It didn’t happen right away, as cultural transformations take time, but he was able to catalyze the change in a little over two years with a combination of leadership, communication, and technology. 

Here are some of the key learnings from his journey:

  • Use CX metrics that everyone can understand. The ultimate measurement of CX success was made simple: the percentage of customers who felt like it was easy to do business with the company. This simplicity allows the CX team to show the results as green, yellow, or red smiley faces, showcasing customers who indicated it was easy, not so easy, or difficult to interact with the company. Key stakeholders had no problem understanding what it meant, and how their group’s efforts may be affecting the measure. The measurements helped drive improvements in areas where customers were having difficulty interacting with the business, driving a 40% higher retention rate.
  • Make it clear that every interaction matters. After building a program that delivered both relationship and transaction-level insights, the CX leader realized that he needed to focus on the 250,000 individual interactions that customers were having with the company every day. Each interaction was an opportunity to strengthen or fracture the loyalty of those customers. So the CX team developed employee communication focused on “jobs to be done,” which resonated with employees and created a sense of ownership. For example, employees who were part of the delivery organizations were shown how their jobs impacted customers, and how the customer scores were a reflection of their work. Overall, the results were framed like this: “13% of customers find it hard to do business with the company, or 14,512 people in the last 12 months felt that we weren’t easy to work with.” By making the results more personal, employees saw that every customer touch point means every person has a job to be done, a job that will ultimately impact how the customers behave. 
  • Build incentives for behaviors, not scores. The company’s objective was to close the loop 100% of the time. They wanted every account manager to follow up with their customers on all feedback. Why? If a customer was willing to spend 10-15 minutes out of their busy schedule to provide feedback, then they felt like the customer deserved a follow-up. The closed-loop process also resulted in several cases that led to some business expansion. By setting a target on this well-understood activity, rather than a CX score, it helped change how people viewed their role with customers and drive cultural transformation.
  • Use executive endorsement to lock in desired behaviors. The CEO took customer stories and shared them at all-hands meetings and in his emails,  blog posts, and other communications  saying, “check out this great example of customer expansion from a simple follow-up.” One particular story was about a customer who was really frustrated with the website, as they had no luck in finding product information desperately needed, resulting in negative feedback. The sentiment was routed to the account executive and they contacted the customer. The customer was so surprised that somebody listened and did something about it, that the conversation ultimately led to an expansion deal.
  • Keep showcasing wins and value. The company’s closed-loop completions had a direct correlation to an increase in customer loyalty, which led to more than a 150% increase in referrals amongst promoters. The CX team used this data to build a one-pager, which proved to be very effective in communicating the importance of employees taking simple actions. They also created a 45-second animation video to visualize the achievements of the account managers and leveraged all of the company’s internal communications channels to create and distribute customer impact stories. These ongoing communications really helped demonstrate how important the 100% follow-up goal was to the business.
  • Prioritize IT projects based on customer impact. One business division with a large IT backlog used customer insights to prioritize projects based on how they would make it easier for customers to do business with the company. Instead of debating priorities based on internal perspectives, this approach aligned all of the discussions on customer needs, which furthered the cultural transformation.


The bottom-line: Insights can help drive a more customer-centric culture in B2B. 

James Bampos, is the Head of B2B CX Solution Strategy at Qualtrics

Bruce Temkin is the Head of Qualtrics XM Institute