Although most people love the concept of customer centricity, few businesses know how to shape and advance their business-to-business (B2B) strategies to realize its true value. What is often missing is the adoption of experience management (XM) practices that turn every interaction into insight to spot opportunities for improvement.

In recent years, many significant global events have changed everyday life in unimaginable ways. Everything — from how people behave, think, and communicate to which regulations and policies are enacted to tighten governance and control — is constantly evolving. And those shifts are sometimes so dramatic that old norms are no longer relevant, safe, comforting, or familiar.

This well documented truth is also reflected in the quality of B2B customer experience. XM practices that focus on traditional factors, such as feature-based product selection and market leadership, are not considered necessary anymore. Instead, customers are more likely to value brands that demonstrate care and concern, meet their needs on their terms, navigate a completely changed world, and respond to demand and individual requirements with agility.

How can companies in the B2B space pivot fast enough to trigger an immediate and lasting impact on their customers’ sense of brand accountability, security, trust, and loyalty? For many SAP customers, the secret is getting to the root of their XM challenges quickly and innovate with less risk by using digital strategy advisory services from SAP.

Close the Experience Management Gap

The disparity between a company’s perception of their customer experience and what customers think about it is often nothing short of shocking. A survey conducted by Bain & Company indicates that 80 percent of companies believe they deliver superior experiences, while only eight percent of customers agree.

This disconnect is what we call the XM gap. To close it, companies need to do three things better than ever: Listen to their customers more; understand how customer feedback relates to their products, services, interactions, and business operations; and act on that knowledge in ways that improve experiences on their customers’ terms.

For decades, organizations have relied on operational data (O-data) to know what is happening to support their decisions. Such intelligence is based on transactional data that is necessary to manage the overall business. Coming from software such as SAP S/4HANA, SAP Analytics Cloud, or SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain, it helps measure key performance indicators (KPIs) like inventory turnover, days sales outstanding, profit and loss, and sales conversion rate.

However, the insight provided by O-data is just a part of the bigger customer experience story. Experience data (X-data) has the power to inform why certain events happen. X-data considers all the human factors — beliefs, behavioral instincts, emotions, and intentions — behind every action and outcome. This information can be derived from customer feedback, purchase intent, Net Promoter Score, product satisfaction surveys, social sentiment, and customer engagement.

The real magic behind a meaningful B2B customer experience happens when both X-data and O-data are combined. By comprehending the “what” and the “why” of every business event, companies can identify new opportunities, strengthen customer loyalty, optimize inventory to reduce costs, and deliver on promises with the highest level of quality possible.

Activate the Untapped Potential of Every Customer Interaction

One of the best resources for opening the potential of the customer experience is digital strategy advisory services for XM. As part of the SAP Advisory Services portfolio, the services enable SAP customers to transform their XM practices with one unified platform. It ties together the insights of O-data and X-data to empower better decision-making with enterprise-wide visibility and a clear understanding of what is happening operationally and why specific outcomes happen during the experience.

For a better view of the XM improvements that businesses can expect to achieve with digital strategy advisory services, consider three of the many use cases explain the power of XM in the B2B context

1. Reduce Goods Returns and Improve Customer Satisfaction

Receiving customer returns can bring undesirable operational and financial burdens. But more importantly, it can be an indication that customer satisfaction may be eroding. Businesses that have limited visibility into the connection between their operations and customer experiences cannot easily decipher whether the root cause is, for example, quality management, poorly scheduled or delayed delivery, or inaccurate sales forecasting.

By leveraging XM, a systematic approach to processing returned goods can yield the visibility businesses need. When a customer initiates a return request, XM solutions from SAP and Qualtrics trigger the automated capture of reasons and product experience. Once the warehouse receives the shipment, a survey is initiated to obtain the results of the physical inspection of the items and verify the return. Once the returned item is accepted, the account manager and customer contact receive a questionnaire to provide feedback on the process.

All touch points — O-data and X-data — are captured and visualized in a dashboard to understand the correlation between the reason “why” a customer returned and “what” financial and operational consequences followed it.

2. Increase Sales and Demand Planning

Product sample management is one of the most critical customer-facing processes for the manufacturing industry. Customers do not usually share information about the use, purpose, and experience of the sample product. This lack of insight can become a considerable challenge when manufacturers try to predict demand, potentially resulting in long lead times or misaligned product availability.

XM helps to ensure that the product sample management process immediately creates and confirms the sample request from a customer in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) backend system. Then, the delivery process allows XM solutions from SAP and Qualtrics to initiate surveys to obtain data on the customer’s experience. The provided information is transferred to SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain, and a dashboard from SAP Analytics Cloud correlates the O-data and X-data to generate insights into future demand and new leads.

3. Optimize Billing and Payment Processes

Errors in billing and payment processes can impact the customer experience as well as revenues and operating margins. For example, escalations often culminate in legal action and loss of customers.

In most cases, customers are more willing to express their disappointments or satisfaction with suppliers during the billing and payment process. Therefore, this phase of the customer experience is a prime opportunity to detect potential operational problems and needed experiential improvements early on.

Customers can integrate SAP S/4HANA with XM solutions from SAP and Qualtrics to establish an embedded early warning system of issues that could harm the customer satisfaction. This insight can help companies use numerous touch points within the billing and payment processes more effectively to resolve mistakes proactively and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Take the Lead in a New World of Experience Management

Brands that people love and follow know that great products and services are no longer enough to earn and maintain customer loyalty. But for many businesses, this growing sentiment is challenging their ability to secure, enhance, and create new opportunities – unless a high level of customer centricity is exercised.

The key to a highly competitive, customer-centric business is listening to customers actively, understanding their motivations fully, and acting appropriately at the right moment.

This reality is why SAP offers XM as part of the digital strategy advisory services portfolio from SAP. By focusing on our advisory services on XM for B2B processes, companies can navigate the complexities of today’s ever-evolving market dynamics and build experiences that resonate well with new and existing customers across any channel.

This is the new era of experience management, bringing X-data and O-data together to leverage and generate new insights into business operation.

Digital strategy advisory services from SAP are available through SAP Advisory Service. For additional information, reach out to your SAP account executive or contact us.

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