NPS Blog

Powering down the road to customer loyalty in B2B: Cummins Inc.

Lori Cobb and Dave CromptonCummins Inc. makes diesel engines. It’s an old-line manufacturing company with a storied history, and it’s been a leader in its business for almost 100 years.

But what makes Cummins really distinctive is that it competes against its own customers. Every other maker of diesel truck engines is owned by a truck company. The truck companies coordinate with their engine manufacturing divisions, with integrated engineering and a business model that consumes all of its engine production. To overcome this structural disadvantage, Cummins must work a lot harder to earn its customers’ business and their loyalty.

Complicating things further, each of its customers consists of multiple decision makers, influencers and other constituents spread across many different functional and business units. The day-to-day management of customer relationships requires all-in devotion from the Cummins team.

These are the complex situations that business-to-business companies routinely face. When you’re selling to consumers, you generally have just one person to satisfy. But when you’re working with a complicated B2B organization, the path to loyalty might cross five international sub-units, four layers of management and sometimes the CEO. Salespeople and service teams must be experts on their own products, their customers’ products and even broader industry trends.

Sure, B2B companies know they have a lot to gain from earning their customers’ loyalty. But it’s a lot more difficult to earn business loyalty these days. In a recent Bain & Company survey, 68% of executives at B2B companies said their customers were less loyal than in the past. Earning loyalty in B2B markets requires truly unique products and service offerings that advance your customer’s business goals and strategy.

Lori Cobb and Dave Crompton, my recent guests on the Net Promoter System podcast, understand these dynamics extremely well. As veteran executives at Cummins, they’ve experienced the complexities of serving business customers in a competitive global market. In their industry, producing efficient, low-cost engines just gets them to the table. Winning and keeping their customers’ business requires Cummins to adapt its business to fit into the supply chain and operations of the truck manufacturers themselves.

Net Promoter System podcastCummins started using the Net Promoter System a few years ago to learn how it can serve customers better. In our discussion, Lori and Dave share some of the big lessons they’ve learned and things they would do differently.

We’ve also devoted the latest Loyalty Insights to exploring how B2B companies can adapt the Net Promoter System for their operations. While the overall philosophy and principles of high-velocity feedback and learning is the same for all Net Promoter System practitioners, applying them to B2B firms requires unique skills and capabilities.

You’ll find the latest Loyalty Insights here: Get real feedback from your B2B customers.  You can listen to my discussion with Lori and Dave on iTunes or through the player below. Click here to browse more Net Promoter System podcasts.

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