When you think about customer engagement, you can logically connect a person’s experience with a company to the associated activities that drive loyalty. But what do you think of when you hear about channel partner engagement? Often, we logically think of partner enablement. B-to-b organizations regularly focus on the readiness of partners to sell solutions, a process that traditionally consists of onboarding, enabling partners to sell on the supplier's behalf, and creating fancy co-branding of marketing materials. While these are all very important activities, what about the experience of channel partners’ customers? Remember, we are selling to people and not just other organizations. Customer engagement must be a component of channel partner enablement from the start of the relationship – and not just an afterthought.
Customer experience drives growth. SiriusDecisions research indicates that 80 percent of customers directly or indirectly selected a provider because of past customer experience. So why do we think it’s any different when we involve some form of channel partner? Still, the engagement models that suppliers have established will not miraculously go over to their channel partners – so the same rigor and dedication to implementing change management internally must be applied to partners as well. Here’s how to get started:
Partner is a key word. You spend time with people within your organization. Maybe you even included customers in your journey mapping. Why leave out indirect customers and channel partners? After all, for many of your indirect customers, your partners maybe THE face of your brand. Join me at the SiriusDecisions Summit in May, where I'll be highlighting customer engagement programs of the year. Spoiler alert: One of them will be excellence in customer engagement through the channel!
Melissa is a customer experience advocate with more than 20 years of experience working in global organizations, with an emphasis on the software and telecommunications sectors. She is a thought leader and research analyst for SiriusDecisions’ Customer Engagement Strategies research and advisory service. Follow her on Twitter @SiriusCx.