Customer Scenario Patterns: Are You Making It Easy for B2B Customers to Select and Buy Your Products?

Unpacking "Moments of Truth" that Surface Consistently in B2B Customers' Scenarios

June 3, 2004

Before you begin a Customer Scenario® Mapping exercise, you should capture the context of the scenario. This report explains the five key elements to capture: customer, scenario, desired outcome, conditions of satisfaction, and customer context.

NETTING IT OUT

Business process management is hot. Six Sigma initiatives are moving out of manufacturing into operations, sales, and service. But before you begin redesigning your company’s and partners’ business processes, there’s an important requirements-gathering step you need to take. Many firms refer to this first step as listening to “The Voice of the Customer.” We recommend an additional approach: map out your customers’ business processes and determine, with great specificity, which processes, and which part of those processes, impact your customers the most.

Once you’ve discovered customers’ moments of truth in doing business with you, you can better prioritize your process, technology, and people redesign efforts.

In this report, we take a close look at the most common Moments of Truth that we have found in one important Customer Scenario: how business customers ideally want to select and buy products. We reveal the common customer behavior pattern that we’ve found across hundreds of these scenarios.

Don't Streamline your Business Process until You Understand Your Customers' Processes!

Business process management is back! In 2003/2004, we’re seeing a lot of companies’ time and money being spent on redesigning, streamlining, and even transforming business processes. This should be a good thing for customers. Streamlined business processes make organizations more efficient and effective.

However, the payoffs from business process redesign won’t yield greater customer profitability and customer loyalty unless you also streamline your customers’ processes--making it easier for customers to do business with you. That’s why we recommend jumpstarting your business process redesign efforts by looking first at how to streamline those of your customers’ processes that intersect with your business. We call streamlined customers’ processes “Customer Scenarios ® .”

Customer Scenarios don’t represent the way your customers do things today. That would be paving the proverbial cow paths. Customer Scenarios are the set of tasks that customers would ideally like to do to achieve their desired outcomes. The advantage of designing your business processes to intersect your customers’ desired processes is that your new streamlined business processes won’t be immediately out-of-date. Rather, you will have redesigned your business processes in a way that helps your customers better meet their ideal state.

Let’s take a closer look at a specific Customer Scenario that’s an important one for many businesses: How customers ideally want to select and buy products. Then we’ll look at the customer-critical requirements in this scenario--the ones we call “moments of truth.” Customers’ “Moments of Truth” are the customer-impacting issues that should drive your business process redesign priorities.

Caveat: From the customer’s point of view, buying a product usually isn’t the customer’s desired outcome for a customer’s entire scenario. It’s merely one step along the way. The customer doesn’t really want to buy a product, he or she actually wants to use or consume the product as a means to an end. Selecting and buying the right product for the situation is the first part of the customer’s scenario--using or consuming the product is the second part. For consumers, the desired “big picture” outcome may be to nourish themselves, to enhance their self-image, to make someone else feel good, to enjoy themselves, to be more comfortable, or to better themselves. For B2B customers, the desired outcome usually relates to achieving greater productivity, lowering costs, entering new markets, attracting and retaining more customers, designing new products, or solving a problem.

With that caveat in mind, however, let’s take a closer look at how business customers would ideally like to select and buy complex products or solutions for their organizations.

How Business Customers Want to Select and Buy Complex Products

Setting the Context for B2B Select & Buy:  We’ll use two fictional customers: George is the grounds maintenance manager for a private golf course that is part of a resort hotel and condominium complex. Maria is the technical architect for a multi-channel retailer. Although George and Maria have very different problems to solve, work in different industries, and have different job titles, their scenarios are actually quite similar. Both of them have been tapped to recommend solutions for their companies to buy. George’s golf course is in need of a three new greens mowers. Maria’s contact center needs an online chat capability and an integrated telesales/email follow-up application. In both cases, they have a timeline and a general budget in mind. Neither of them is in a break/fix or emergency situation. Both realize that they do not necessarily need to stick with their current vendors’ product lines for these new capabilities.

Maria and George both need to evaluate alternatives, select the best product for their companies’ situations, make a recommendation, sell that recommendation internally, get the product purchased and delivered, and live (hopefully happily ever after) with the consequences of their choices. Both George and Maria are competent and well-respected within their organizations. Their recommendations are likely to be accepted. Neither wants to make a mistake. After all, if they recommend and select a solution that is problematic, it will reflect badly on them, and they’ll be the people who will have to deal with any issues that arise. Both are open to solutions that might not involve owning and maintaining the products in question. George probably wouldn’t mind if someone else maintained the mowers for him. Maria doesn’t care whether or not the software services she integrates are hosted internally or externally.

What's the Key Role in Select & Buy? Note that we haven’t used the term “decision-maker” to describe George and Maria’s roles. The role they both are playing in the scenario is as the primary recommender of products. Other people in both their organizations will make the final buying decision. In Maria’s case, the final decision will be made by the Contact Center Manager and CIO. In George’s case, it will be the Resort Manager and Golf Course owner who both need to sign off. Yet, if Maria and George do their jobs well, the decision-making is likely to be a rubber stamp of approval. It’s the supplier’s job to ensure that ...


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