Critical incidents in B2B customer journeys

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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The purpose of this research is to study customer experience in a B2B professional services context. More specifically, the study looks at customer journeys in a strategy consulting business and identifies critical incidents, moments of truth, in those journeys. Additionally, the study tests the suitability of the Critical Incident Technique in a B2B context. The journeys were mapped together with the service provider using the service blueprinting technique in a workshop setting. Then, the critical incident technique was used to collect the moments of truth along the journey. Data was collected through one-to-one interviews with customers. In the interviews, the respondents were asked to verify the suitability of the blueprint and then to describe the critical incidents step-by-step along the journey. The data was analysed by coding the answers and then deriving recurring themes from them. The great majority of the recalled incidents were positive, suggesting that the service had been provided in a satisfactory way. The most common themes in the answers were communication, scope, and industry expertise and personalisation. Clear communication was seen important as it ensures that both parties are on the same page and helps the customer understand what they are paying for. Correct scoping is vitally important as it demonstrates whether the service provider has understood the customer’s needs. It also has a large impact on the price of the service. Finally, industry expertise and personalisation were seen as important because business professionals often view their industry as different from others. Understanding that industry and the business of the customer helps with effective communication. Almost all the positive incidents represented functional quality, i.e., going the extra mile for the customer. This study demonstrated that critical incidents combined with customer journey mapping can be a useful tool for examining customer experiences in a B2B setting. This could be utilized by companies when they seek to better understand their service delivery in complex settings. Further research is recommended on the method as more evidence is needed to support the promising signals of this study.
Thesis advisor
Falk, Tomas
customer experience, customer journeys, critical incidents, customer satisfaction
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