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Linking Customer Experience and Partner Success

Published: December 17, 2015 | By: Annette Franz

Continuing on from last month’s post about partners and their importance to your ecosystem… you need to make sure you help your partners be successful. When you think about the multichannel and the omnichannel customer experience where partners are involved (they aren’t always), it’s even more critical to ensure partners are lined up for success. When your partners are successful, you, in turn, are also successful. From a brand perspective. From a customer experience perspective. From all perspectives.

In last month’s post, I gave some tips to ensure that the partner experience is aligned with your brand experience. In this post, I’m going to reiterate why this is important to your success — and more importantly, why it’s critical to the customer experience overall.

For B2B companies who deal with consumers via/through partners or resellers, their focus has traditionally been on the relationship with the partner, often with very little visibility into the end-customer experience. This is definitely changing, and we’re seeing a new trend in the marketplace: the shift from B2B to B2B2C. This shift is ultra-critical, for a variety of reasons.

You can have all the partners you want. You can satisfy their needs all you want. But if the product you manufacture doesn’t add value, doesn’t sell, or isn’t something the end customer actually cares about, both you and your partners are going to go out of business.

How do you add value for your partners and help them be more successful?

Simple. Don’t be so far-removed from the end customer. Don’t just rely on what your partners are telling you about customer experience — you’ll need to do your own research, your own listening, to get ahead of the game. Work with your partners to listen to the voice of the end customer. Understand who they are, how they use your products now, what jobs or tasks they are trying to achieve — and then use that information to shift gears to better meet their needs in the future.

There are a lot of B2B2C customer experience design examples to support this need, this scenario, but my favorite (and a very powerful one) is the story of how Doug Dietz, the principal designer for GE Healthcare, transformed the MRI experience for patients (the C) and ultimately made their partners (the Bs) successful. He’d been designing equipment for 20+ years for hospitals; he realized after spending two years designing an MRI machine that the actual patient experience was scary and quite miserable.

How did he discover that? By going to see his product in its actual setting, about to be used on a small child. By observing his machine in use. By seeing the patient response to the machine.

Have you done this? You sell to — or through — your partners; have you seen how their (your) customers use the/your products? Have you heard how they feel about them? What the experience is? If the products meet their needs and help them do what they’re trying to do?

Watch Doug’s TEDx talk on how he transformed the experience for families. It’s so worth the 20 minutes. Be sure to grab a box of tissues before you begin watching it.

At the end of his talk, Doug shares how he measures success of his product redesign. Yes, there are the hard metrics…

  • The number of patients requiring sedation was drastically reduced, which improves the patient experience and also increases efficiencies for the hospital.
  • Wait time to get an appointment was reduced.
  • Patient satisfaction went up 92%!
  • Patient volume also went up as a result of the efficiencies.

But Doug’s success measures lie in this: did he influence or change the family’s conversation during the car ride home?

Ultimately, he measures success based on the patient experience. Yes, the healthcare partners had a better experience, too. But, in the end, that’s not really what matters the most, is it?

When was the last time you observed your product in use by end customers? When was the last time you spoke to them about how they use the product and understood what the experience is?

If it’s been a while — or never — it’s time!

If you do not seek out allies and helpers, then you will be isolated and weak. -Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”

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