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Is it wise to rob CX to pay for growth?

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When it comes to the future of B2B and CX, a trend for 2020 is coming into focus, and it’s not looking good.

Looking back, Forrester’s Predictions 2018 considered 2018 a “year of reckoning” for digital transformation. This was to be the tipping point when inaction on transformation would start putting firms at risk. One of the surprising insights was that this risk wasn’t necessarily from an inability to attract new customers. It was from churn – from existing customers leaving for better experiences.

Skip forward a year to the 2019 edition, and Forrester is telling a similar, slightly tweaked story: 2019 is the year digital transformation “goes pragmatic.” If 2018 was all about recognizing the risks of failing to digitally transform, 2019 has been about mitigating those risks by putting plans into action.

These trends will have major implications in 2020. For firms that are trailing behind on CX, going pragmatic seems like a no-brainer. But how does the customer fit into this approach? Not very well, unfortunately. The same report states that 20 percent of brands will abandon their customer experience initiatives in 2019, opting for more traditional strategies, like price reductions, to achieve short-term objectives.

As marketers, we’re obsessed with the pain points customers face making their purchasing decisions. However, in our drive to reduce friction in that buyer’s journey, it’s easy to lose sight of the post-purchase experience. Like the CEOs, CIOs, and CMOs turning to pragmatic pre-purchase strategies to capture market share, transformation of the actual product or service experience becomes an afterthought.

Unsurprisingly, these risks are not a B2C-only concern. A 2019 Episerver survey revealed that nine out of ten B2B decision-makers identify increasing digital expectations from their customers or partners as their top external threat. Even worse, 50 percent of those same decision-makers say they lack funding to execute digital transformation programs in their organizations, echoing the Forrester predictions that more pragmatic tactics such as price will be the go-to strategy to spur growth.

What gets lost in this reactive mindset is the key to keeping (and expanding) market share: existing customers.

In B2B, where purchases are both complicated and time-consuming, this post-purchase customer service landscape can be particularly barren. End-users often have their product and/or service decisions made for them by senior managers, and the customer experience itself often reflects that power imbalance. This isn’t an unknown, of course. But if everyone agrees it’s is an issue, why isn’t it a priority? Currently, 59 percent of B2Bs point to legacy or in-house software as the primary reason for not being more digitally agile. That, combined with the lack of capital expenditure, maps out a grim path to declining customer loyalty.

Expensive and complicated purchasing decisions, typically made by senior managers, leave the end-user out of the equation, which in turn means that a user’s only interaction with a brand may be in the vacuum of the post-purchase experience. For many organizations, the product and/or service experience is the brand. And if the experience is poor, the brand perception will follow suit, no matter how low the purchase price might have been.

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Perhaps the subconscious hope is that users will relent to a sort of digital Stockholm syndrome, where they develop an alliance with the tools they’re forced to use. More likely, though, the lack of attention to user needs will manifest as a bottom-up revolt, cultivating resentment and ill-will toward the brand responsible for their ongoing poor experience. And when those users become decision-makers, it’s not a leap to see how this can negatively impact business relationships and long-term profitability.

Clinical research has shown that emotions impact logical reasoning. And reasoning suffers the most when emotions are negative. At its base, a brand relationship is an emotional one, formed – and continuously informed – by the customer experience. When that experience is negative, it clouds every aspect of decision-making. Your product and/or service will look unappealing no matter how compelling its feature set or stated benefits.

So, B2B brands have a choice to make: Focus on the short-term gains that traditional price and features may garner, or invest in the long term, creating emotional engagement through meaningful brand interactions that speak to the needs of not only the purchasing decision-makers but also the end-users. Because the latter won’t always be just users—one day they’ll make the decisions.

And with 2020 on the horizon, here’s where B2B companies can take another lesson from B2C: An emotional connection is much stronger than a pragmatic one.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Theresa is the President of McMillan, an independent creative agency headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, with offices in NYC that specializes in the brand experience for a global clientele. She’s responsible for plotting the pragmatic course of action through business development, strategic services offerings and industry partnerships that define the agency’s growth and corporate strategies. Theresa’s been a B2C and B2B marketing professional for more than 25 years, honing her craft in the consumer-packaged goods, software and advocacy sectors and is a strategist-by-trade, which has amplified her life-long passion for pulling things apart to see how they work. She brought that insatiable curiosity to McMillan in 2007, building the agency’s strategic services practice from a one-woman operation into the guiding force behind successful projects for Intuit, LexisNexis and Trend Micro, and becoming President in 2018.

Marketingland.com

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NEWS

Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

Searchenginejournal.com

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