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The business-to-business (B2B) environment can only become more complex as time goes on, with increasingly knowledgeable customers dictating how the overall customer experience works, according to a study by customer intelligence firm, Walker Information. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The study, entitled 'Customers 2020', was based on feedback from customer experience professionals from large, multinational, B2B organisations representing a range of industries, and aimed to predict what the B2B customer experience will look like in the future. The study explored how customer expectations are most likely to evolve, what companies will need to do to adapt in time, and how they can capitalise on the emerging customer revolution.

Among the report's key findings:

  • Customers will demand a more personalised experience; forcing companies to tailor their products and services to the unique needs of each customer.
  • Customers will expect companies to be more proactive, anticipating their current and future needs. To meet these expectations companies will need to leverage advanced analytics to predict customer behaviour and exceed customer expectations.
  • With an explosion of communication methods, customers will interact on their own terms. Companies will need to deliver a consistent, high-quality experience across all channels of communication.
  • As the pace of innovation continues to accelerate, companies will focus on creating a competitive advantage based on the experiences they deliver, placing less emphasis on product and pricing strategies.
  • In the future there will be a great deal of attention on how engaged a customer is with a company. Highly customized measurements will focus on customer engagement as a leading indicator of growth.

"Customers 2020 is a thought-provoking look at a future that is already unfolding," said Bob Thompson, founder and CEO for CustomerThink, an independent customer-centric research firm. "To earn customer trust and loyalty, B2B leaders must work harder to provide relevant experiences, anticipate needs and orchestrate a more consistent multi-channel experience."