Customer Scenario Patterns: Are You Making It Easy for B2B Customers to Select and Buy Your Products? (Part 2)

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

June 17, 2004

In many customer scenarios, there are common moments of truth that emerge despite differences in the customers' businesses. This report looks at those moments of truth that surface consistently in B2B select & buy scenarios, 'unpacking' the underlying wants and expectations of each.

If you sell complex products to business customers through one or more channels, and you want to make it easier for customers to do business with you, here’s the anatomy of your solution. Start by understanding your customers’ ideal processes. Map your solutions and offers to your customers’ scenarios, and then determine which business processes you need to streamline.

Once you’ve discovered your customers’ moments of truth in doing business with you, you can better prioritize your process, technology, and people redesign efforts. We recommend identifying the business/technology services that support customers’ scenarios and then ensuring that your internal business processes (and those of your channel partners) can leverage these shared services.

In this report, we take a close look at how business suppliers are anticipating and responding to their customers’ moments of truth during customers’ “select & buy” scenarios.

We reveal the best suppliers’ responses, offers, and services that we’ve found recurring across hundreds of these scenarios.

We offer a diagnostic tool you can take (and share among your colleagues) to determine how bad your select and buy experience really is.


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 ® .”

So many of our clients sell complex products to business customers that we can’t help sharing the basic “aha’s” that countless companies are slowly stumbling upon as they finally take the time to map our their customers’ ideal scenarios. To us, these Customer Scenario patterns seem really obvious. That’s because we see them recurring over and over again in our customer requirements-gathering work. Yet these customer requirements and priorities must not be obvious to most of you. If they were, all of us would be able to select and buy your products with a lot less effort, time, and aggravation.

In Part 1 of this Report, we identified the recurring Moments of Truth that surfaced in that most popular of B2B customer scenarios, Selecting and Buying a Complex B2B Solution. Remember, Customer Scenarios don’t represent the way your customers do things today. Rather, they are the set of tasks that customers would ideally like to do to achieve their desired outcomes.

Customer Scenarios ® Patterns & Moments of Truth

Customer Scenario ® Mapping is Patricia Seybold Group’s proven methodology for capturing customers’ ideal paths to achieve their desired outcomes. Over the past decade, we’ve run thousands of Customer Scenario ® Mapping sessions with both business and consumer customers--asking these customers how they would ideally like to select and buy products and services, how they’d like to have problems addressed, and how they plan for and address many of their personal and business goals.

Customers’ preferred scenarios are very different for different types of customers (by demographics, psychographics, and roles) in different contexts (emergency, routine, impulsive, planned, etc.). Of course, consumers’ scenarios differ from business peoples’ scenarios.

Customer Scenario ® Patterns

Although Customer Scenarios are very role-specific and quite context-sensitive, we’ve discovered a number of recurring themes or patterns that show up over and over again--patterns that cross product categories and industries--from manufacturing to financial services, from commercial real estate to consumer electronics, from capital equipment to groceries, from travel to insurance. In fact, many of the most fundamental of these patterns are identical for both consumer and business customers: for example, business customers buying capital equipment or software share many of the same ideal buying preferences with consumers’ purchasing complex products such as consumer electronics, cars, and kitchen appliances.

If you know ahead of time what kinds of patterns are likely to occur in certain customer scenarios, it will be easier for you both to discern those patterns and to spot new and different customer needs and behavior. Eventually, you’ll begin to discover patterns that are specific to the different types of customers who interact most with your business.

Recurring “Moments of Truth” in Customer Scenarios

A “moment of truth” in a Customer Scenario is the point at which the customer will give up, walk away, or be very disappointed and frustrated. We also refer to these points in a Customer Scenario as “show-stoppers.” Different types of customers in different contexts will often identify very different moments of truth in similar scenarios.

What You Can Learn from Studying and Anticipating Customers’ Moments of Truth

Once you have identified your customers’ most critical scenarios and their moments of truth, you’ll be much better able to ensure that those moments of truth are met. In fact, by proactively anticipating customers’ moments of truth, you’ll be able to ...

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