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A look at the future of B2B CX

Blake Morgan lives in California. She is a customer experience futurist. Her books have included “The Customer Of The Future”, and “More is More”. She is a contributor to Forbes and the Harvard Business Review. A couple of weeks ago, Nick Hague interviewed Blake for the CX Masters Podcast Series hosted by B2B International. We thought the pearls of wisdom that Blake shared with us make a good follow-on from our 1st January blog on future CX trends.

The first thing we note about Blake is how open she is about herself and her career. Openness and honesty are great traits of CX just as they are in people. Blake admits to being nervous on stage, especially facing 1500 people. It is a positive nervousness and she is constantly seeking improvements. We hear that she is always learning. As a kid she learned loads from her Dad followed by the many colleagues and mentors she worked with in all types and sizes of business. It is warming to hear that her biggest mentor of all is husband, Jake. And when these sources of inspiration aren’t enough, she picks up a book on public speaking or reads a memoir to find out how other people have achieved success. Blake, like good CX, is restless and on a constant journey of discovery.

The discussion moves swiftly on to her area of expertise and our area of interest - business to business CX. On this Blake speaks such common sense. Just as she learns from the people she works with and the books she reads, she sees brilliant CX all round her. Amazon and Apple are among her heroes. When we ask what b2b CX will look like in 10 years’ time, she speaks from the heart:

“In the B2B world things move very very slow. Basic things are hard for huge companies. They are so big, so spread out, and have so many silos. The stuff that Amazon is doing now will be rampant in B2B in the future. Amazon says “We know where you are, we know where you've been, we know what you want in the future, we are delivering the product quickly, if there is a problem with the product we will replace it easily”. This is the Amazon experience that most B2B companies are 10 years away from. In the next decade we will see a focus on analytics, personalisation, big data, cyber security, innovation, and voice technology. Whatever your experience with Amazon today you will see every company doing in the future.”

We are interested in Blake’s views on how we should measure B2B CX performance. We shouldn’t be surprised that the answer once again makes so much sense:

“One metric we sometimes forget are our sales figures! If you make people's lives easier and better they will come back. If you offer things that competitors don't, customers will come back. So if you see a dip in your sales it could be because you are offering crappy customer experience? Are your products modern; are you considering what's going on in the world; are you innovative enough; are you making the process easy? People get so obsessed with metrics they sometimes don’t look at the obvious - "Are your customers buying stuff from you and if not, why not?"

Blake emphasises the importance of making things easy. She is big on Touchless CX. Touchless CX, as the term suggests, is an experience in which you don't have to touch anything. The importance of this occurred to her on an occasion she was picking up a kebab from her local Middle Eastern restaurant. She was asked to sign for the meal and had a moment of qualms. She thought “I don't want to touch this pen to sign for it”. Quite right too given that we are all trying our best to suppress the virus. People don't want to sign for a package. Forrester call this Zero User Interface (or Zero UI). When you get in and out of an Uber you don't touch your wallet – you are not even touching your credit card.

This epiphany with the kebab made Blake think “How easy can you make it for the customer to transact with you?” Surely the future lies in seamless systems. You shouldn't have to jump through hoops to offer your identity. You shouldn’t have to prove your identity by remembering when you first tasted chocolate ice cream or what was the colour of the front door in the second house you lived in. There must be better ways of knowing the identity of customers without all those passwords. We need to think outside the box as to how we can make our employees’ and our customers’ lives easier and better

Blake believes that there is one good thing that has come out of the pandemic - it has created more empathy with the world around us and many companies have risen to unprecedented challenges. So we return to a theme that runs through Blake and her beliefs – we must always be learning and we can always learn from things around us. Steve Jobs said "it takes a lot of thought to make something simple". It's the same with life and business and customer experience. How hard are we working behind the scenes to clean up the mess to create something beautiful, seamless, simple to use and friendly. It takes a ton of attention to detail and blood sweat and tears to make it happen. How hard are we willing to work behind the scenes to deliver something that we’re proud of that makes an impact for the people we are serving. If we are no longer adding value to people's lives we will become obsolete.

Thank you Blake. We love your view of the future.

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