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CXBuzz Interview With Ruth Stevens, B2B consultant, Author and Educator

Hi Ruth, tell us about yourself and your background.

I consult on B2B marketing for medium to large companies, specializing in sales lead generation and marketing data.  I also teach marketing at NYU Stern and a variety of business schools abroad, like Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.  I have written three books on B2B marketing topics.

I started my career at Time Warner, where I learned how to use data to build profitable customer relationships.  I moved over to the B2B side with stints at Ziff-Davis and IBM and took to B2B right away.  I explained why I love B2B in a recent article: Why B2B Marketing Is More Fun, which your readers might enjoy.

What is the biggest misunderstanding about customer experience, in your opinion?

Some businesses fail to understand the importance of experience in customer behavior—and profits.  They may think it’s incidental to the purchase decision, when in fact, it is critical.  In B2B, where multiple parties are involved in buying and using products and services, a single bad experience can squash the deal.  CX is not easy to manage, but without attention, it’s impossible.

Ruth’s tips for improved customer loyalty

What can companies do to improve customer loyalty and retention?

Business marketers, whose accounts often represent millions in revenue and profits, tend to appreciate the value of attending to customer retention.  Essential to the effort is a solid account management process, where managers are trained and motivated not only on customer service but also on account penetration and expansion.  The other essential strategy is a dedicated team of customer win-back specialists who can identify potential defectors and move quickly to solve problems.  And if that fails, establish programs to bring them back to the fold.

What do you think is most relevant and why: CSAT (customer satisfaction score), NPS (net promoter score), or CES (customer effort score)?

Metrics around customer behavior are always more valuable than metrics based merely on what customers say.  This is why I have always shied away from NPS and customer sat.

How can companies better use social media in the era of customer-centricity and personalization?

B2B marketers have upped their social media game, but there is still plenty of potentials there.  These channels support marketing objectives across the board, from brand awareness to customer acquisition, to retention and win-back.  The tricky part for B2B marketers is to recognize that social media are built on individual contact, while business buying decisions are made at the account level.  So, it’s essential for marketers to maintain accurately and compete customer and prospect records, including social media handles, so they can target individual social media users within the strategic context of their industry, buying role, company size, and other key variables.

What is your opinion on AI-based chatbots to handle customer support?

I am a huge fan.  These new chatbots offer capabilities well beyond support.  They can kick off customer relationships by capturing contact data and even setting up sales appointments.  I recently co-hosted a podcast episode on how chatbots can humanize the customer experience.

What was the best movie you saw that has come out during this past year?

One of my lockdown faves was Borgen, the Danish series that was not only entertaining but also helped me understand more about how parliamentary democratic systems really work.

Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?

The ultimate measure of customer satisfaction is a repurchase.

About the author

Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons is the CEO & Co-Founder of PR Soprano and the editor of CXBuzz parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.


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