The PX Factor: How Outstanding Partner Experiences Elevate Customer Satisfaction

by | Apr 13, 2023

Customer Experience and the Influence of Partner Experience

The impor­tance of cus­tomer expe­ri­ence in dri­ving a com­pa­ny’s suc­cess has been wide­ly acknowl­edged. Numer­ous research stud­ies, cus­tomer sur­veys, and real-life exam­ples have high­light­ed the impor­tance of cus­tomer expe­ri­ence over time. Top research firms like For­rester, Gart­ner, and McK­in­sey have dis­cov­ered a con­nec­tion between cus­tomer expe­ri­ence and increased rev­enue, reten­tion, and loy­al­ty. We have all wit­nessed and learned the suc­cess sto­ries of cus­tomer-cen­tric com­pa­nies such as Apple, Ama­zon, Ikea, and Hilton.

I can still remem­ber, ten years back, that excite­ment when I dis­cov­ered Uber while liv­ing in Paris. The sim­ple act of order­ing a ride with just a few taps on my phone, know­ing the price upfront, not wor­ry­ing about car­ry­ing cash, and expe­ri­enc­ing the refresh­ing friend­li­ness of the dri­ver. With­in a few weeks, my pre­vi­ous strug­gles in using taxis in Paris became a dis­tant mem­o­ry. Although I do not doubt that there are excep­tion­al taxi dri­vers in Paris, my first cus­tomer expe­ri­ence with Uber was so remark­able that I nev­er went back to using tra­di­tion­al taxis.

Tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments, a cus­tomer-cen­tric approach, and the avail­abil­i­ty of cheap cash have con­tributed to the emer­gence of many high­ly suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies in the last decade. As I describe in my arti­cle: “Part­ner­ships Out­per­form Tra­di­tion­al Go-to-Mar­ket Mod­els in Effi­cien­cy and Growth” (June 2022), the low-to-no inter­est era in the finan­cial mar­kets has end­ed. Since then, more com­pa­nies have piv­ot­ed to part­ner­ships and ecosys­tem build­ing in their go-to-mar­ket to achieve cap­i­tal-effi­cient growth.

Even if inter­est rates would­n’t change, it’s vital to real­ize that part­ner­ships are impor­tant for busi­ness­es to stay com­pet­i­tive in the fast-chang­ing, inter­con­nect­ed, and dig­i­tal­ly enabled eco­nom­ic environment.

Part­ner ecosys­tems have become essen­tial for orga­ni­za­tions seek­ing to accel­er­ate inno­va­tion, access new mar­kets, and broad­en their reach. A com­mon­ly cit­ed sta­tis­tic among top ana­lysts, like Jay McBain from Canalys, states that 75% of tech­nol­o­gy and glob­al trade is already done with or through a partner.


Why Is Partner Experience Important?

The sim­ple answer is: “Because cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is still impor­tant!” The cus­tomers’ expe­ri­ence is influ­enced by their inter­ac­tions with our part­ners. Part­ners serve as the cru­cial link between the busi­ness and the cus­tomers, often at the fore­front of the rela­tion­ship. To deliv­er a great cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, we need to make sure that that part­ner receives an excel­lent part­ner experience.

While much research has been done on Cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, only a few stud­ies exist on part­ner expe­ri­ence. With increased focus on part­ner­ships, new stud­ies are being pub­lished on part­ner expe­ri­ence. Just last week, I met with Nor­ma Waten­paugh and Nan­cy Ridge. In their insight­ful new­ly pub­lished study “Part­ners Are The Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence”, they reveal the unde­ni­able link between part­ner expe­ri­ence and cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Their find­ings pro­vide a com­pelling case for busi­ness­es to rethink their part­ner­ship strate­gies and pri­or­i­tize the needs of part­ners as key dri­vers of CX.


When and How to Deliver a Great Partner Experience? 

Just as cus­tomer touch­points are cru­cial for pro­vid­ing a great cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, part­ner touch­points are essen­tial in cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive part­ner expe­ri­ence. Part­ner touch­points appear in all phas­es of the part­ner life cycle, from part­ner recruit­ment to the con­trolled and ami­ca­ble exit.

Recruit­ment > Onboard­ing > Growth > Eval­u­a­tion > Expan­sion > Exit

Partner Life Cycle 1

An under­stand­ing that part­ners need to be treat­ed as part­ners and not like cus­tomers is an impor­tant step in the right direc­tion. See the arti­cle: Part­ner ≠ Cus­tomers.

Part­ner acqui­si­tion is a recruit­ment process; not a sales process. Suc­cess­ful part­ner­ships start with an acqui­si­tion that resem­bles a recruit­ment process far more than a sales approach. I believe Part­ner Recruit­ment sounds more appro­pri­ate than Part­ner Sales, and it implies that com­pa­nies should devote equal effort to onboard­ing part­ners as they do for their direct employ­ees.

Active­ly engag­ing in the part­ner life-cycle and apply­ing KPIs suit­able for part­ner­ships are new areas where busi­ness tools have plen­ty of room for devel­op­ment. New gen­er­a­tions of suc­cess­ful part­ner tools, such as Super­glue, co-found­ed by Rob Reb­holz, have emerged to sup­port com­pa­nies onboard­ing, enabling, man­ag­ing, eval­u­at­ing, and reward­ing part­ner rela­tions. Giv­ing them more con­trol over the part­ner life-cycle and improv­ing the over­all part­ner experience.


Key Factors In Providing a Great Partner Experience

Busi­ness­es should focus on the fol­low­ing fac­tors to achieve a great part­ner experience:

Enter­ing mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial agree­ments. While one par­ty may achieve suc­cess in short-term, trans­ac­tion­al rela­tion­ships by pri­or­i­tiz­ing their own ben­e­fits with­in a con­tract, this approach is not sus­tain­able for build­ing suc­cess­ful long-term part­ner­ships. Part­ner­ships require both sides’ long-term vision and con­tin­u­ous col­lab­o­ra­tion and engage­ment. If one side does not see a ben­e­fit, the part­ner­ship will not work due to the lack of engagement.

Estab­lish open com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels to main­tain trans­paren­cy, build trust and min­i­mize mis­un­der­stand­ings. Also, a good com­mu­ni­ca­tion his­to­ry helps over­come obsta­cles faster when issue res­o­lu­tion is needed.

It is equal­ly impor­tant to rec­og­nize and appre­ci­ate the part­ners’ con­tri­bu­tions and reward them for their efforts to pro­mote loy­al­ty and sat­is­fac­tion. When part­ners feel val­ued, they are more like­ly to stay com­mit­ted to deliv­er­ing a great cus­tomer experience.

Ongo­ing sup­port and sup­ply of resources allow part­ners to deliv­er the best cus­tomer expe­ri­ence pos­si­ble. Ensure your part­ners have the tools, resources, and train­ing to shine in front of your customers.

Con­tin­u­ous­ly adding val­ue for cus­tomers is the ulti­mate pur­pose of busi­ness part­ner­ships. Reg­u­lar­ly ask­ing your part­ners for feed­back to eval­u­ate and update your part­ner expe­ri­ence strat­e­gy is the best tool to ensure a great cus­tomer expe­ri­ence through your partners.


What Are the Next Steps Ahead?

Part­ner Man­agers do not sign sales con­tracts. They sign part­ner­ship con­tracts with part­ners. And spe­cif­ic part­ners (chan­nel part­ners) will sign sales con­tracts. As sim­ple as it sounds, many exec­u­tives still find it chal­leng­ing to oper­ate with this mod­el and attempt to add a rev­enue fig­ure to the tar­get of a part­ner man­ag­er. Con­se­quent­ly, this leads to a sep­a­ra­tion of account­abil­i­ty from respon­si­bil­i­ty, result­ing in mis­aligned expec­ta­tions and orga­ni­za­tion­al inefficiencies.

Cre­at­ing aware­ness and under­stand­ing among exec­u­tives about the impor­tance of Part­ner Expe­ri­ence as a mea­sure of busi­ness suc­cess, which the part­ner man­ag­er can ana­lyze and influ­ence. It is impor­tant to devel­op prop­er met­rics and steer­ing meth­ods for the era of part­ner­ships ahead of us.