We talk about customer engagement all the time. And we’re not the only ones.
A recent Gallup poll advocates making customer engagement your competitive edge, demonstrating through their extensive B2B research that:
- Only 29% of B2B customers are fully engaged
- Customer impact is the single most important element of customer engagement
- 40% of B2B customers who are very satisfied with their AM are fully engaged (this drops to 13% if they’re not)
In the post below, we’ll take a closer look at each of these stats, exploring what the numbers say and what they mean for you—along with a closer look at how your company can be one of the B2B providers who cracks the customer engagement code.
Engagement vs Satisfaction = Emotional vs Rational
What the numbers say: According to Gallup, only 29% of customers are fully engaged, meaning they have formed an emotional connection with your brand, rather than a strictly rational one. The flip side? Nearly 70% of your customers already have one foot out the door.
What the numbers mean: If only 29% of B2B customers are truly engaged, that means there’s likely an opportunity for you to assess your own customer engagement, and find opportunities to strengthen your KAM function in order to close the gap.
A closer look: Rational connections are table stakes. For example, you’re a software company, and your software works. It has a user-friendly interface, great features, and requires little to no troubleshooting. Great. You’ve set yourself up for satisfied customers who can make a rational argument for your product.
Engagement is the next level, and that takes an emotional connection. Many B2C companies do this with incredible (and expensive!) advertising campaigns. But in a B2B environment, the best way to form emotional connections is the old-fashioned way: Through relationships.
Key Account Managers, aka client service or client relationships managers, are the team in charge of owning and developing meaningful client engagement. They do this first by taking the time to truly understand their customers: What are they trying to achieve, both personally and professionally? Then they translate this knowledge into action plans that make a real impact on their customer’s business.
Let’s take the software company example again. Rational connections happen when the software works. Emotional connections happen when the partnership with the software company makes a significant impact on the customer’s business as a whole. Their KAM at the software company helps them assess their process and infrastructure, implement the software in a way that drives efficiency and communication, and drives growth along strategic goals for the entire organization. Now, your brand has made life easier. It’s made teams look good to their colleagues. It’s made users’ daily lives less stressful and more rewarding. They don’t know what they’d do without you. That’s an emotional connection—and that’s an engaged customer.
Impact is Everything
What the numbers say: Customer impact is the number one driver of customer engagement; companies who drive customer impact have 72% more engaged customers.
What the numbers mean: It’s not enough to know what your customers want—you have to help them get there. And that means putting your customer’s goals first, rather than your own. In our experience, very few companies actually do this—and that’s probably why only 29% of B2B customers are truly engaged with their vendors.
A closer look: In a competitive, high-pressure environment, it’s easy to default to a laser focus on your own quotas and goals. It takes discipline, skill, and a clear alternative process to operationalize a more forward-thinking approach: One that starts with customer goals, and builds out an internal business model (and growth plan) from there. We’ve written before about what it means to truly put customers first, and why it doesn’t mean sacrificing your own goals, but rather, the opposite: When you build a model based on making an impact for customers, you underscore your own success in a sustainable, resilient, and compelling way.
Of course, before you can put customer goals first, you have to know what they are. Then you have to have an account planning methodology that works backwards from customer goals, not just your own. The right KAM software can help codify and solidify processes around customer engagement and impact, supporting a team of key account managers who are ready to make a difference for your customers.
Key Account Managers are the Key
What the numbers say: 40% of B2B customers who are very satisfied with their AM are fully engaged—but this drops to 13% if they’re not.
What the numbers mean: Key account managers are the key to customer engagement. Invest in them by hiring the right people and supporting them with the right process and technology.
A closer look: In lieu of B2C’s Hollywood-style advertising, B2B companies have a different, more powerful tool for creating emotional engagement with their brand: Their people. As Gallup writes, “Authentic customer-centricity is accomplished only in the presence of advisory account relationships.”
Building a team of effective KAMs starts with your hiring practices. Rather than recruit people who are good at “sales,” in the traditional sense, or even customer service in the limited sense, recruit and hire people with a more nuanced and comprehensive skill set: One that can build, grow, and maintain relationships.
Start by scanning resumes for the right experience—managing strategic, complicated accounts, where the key to success wasn’t just selling a product and walking away, but using the product as a vehicle for building a strategic partnership. Focus less on title (though it’s important) and more on the organization and client roster to get a sense of what kinds of customers they’ve served. In the interview, gauge the candidate’s listening skills. Are they as good at listening to you as they are at selling themselves? Did they do their research to understand what your organization is trying to accomplish through hiring for this position? Are they asking questions about broader strategic objectives? If they are, that’s a great sign: A candidate who is already making an effort to understand you and your organization will likely do the same for customers.
In addition to hiring the right team of KAMs, it’s important to support them with a clear process and purpose-built technology. This helps them be more successful in their jobs, which in turn, as the stat above demonstrates, helps customers feel more engaged with your company.
Kapta Can Help
In order to successfully build customer engagement, KAMs need the right support. They need time and space for client communication. They need a clear internal process to guide their activities and performance reviews. And they need purpose-built technology to support and accelerate their efforts.
That’s where Kapta comes in. Kapta offers tools to help KAMs dive deep, understanding what their customers’ goals, expectations, and obstacles so they can start to develop and deliver proactive solutions. Kapta’s Action Planning tool is designed to translate big picture customer goals into meaningful action plans that make an impact for customers. And Kapta’s real-time tracking and measurement tools give you the data you need to constantly assess your value for customers.
Key account managers are the key to building B2B customer engagement. To see how Kapta helps support them in their role, schedule your personalized demo today.