By Andrew Dalglish - 8th August 2016
How do you measure customer satisfaction in B2B markets? What questions should you ask in a customer satisfaction survey?
Fair questions, but first ask yourself this: should you measure customer satisfaction? It’s counter-intuitive, but in B2B markets sometimes customer satisfaction doesn’t actually matter. For example, even disgruntled customers may remain loyal because:
However, more often than not customer satisfaction is linked with loyalty so let’s return to that question – how do you measure it?
Well, first you need to identify what you should be measuring – the aspects of the customer experience which impact satisfaction and the criteria you’re judged against in each area. To do so:
Next you need some hard data to definitively measure your performance in these areas. That means a survey and typically the default method of deploying this will be online as this is a cost-effective and often the customer’s preference.
At the core of this survey should be what we call the ‘satisfaction ladder’. It works like this:
This approach will measure the overall health of customer relationships, identify any areas of under-performance and provide ideas on how to up your game.
The next step is to narrow your focus by establishing which areas of performance have the greatest impact on overall satisfaction. Doing so will allow you to prioritise the investment of time and resources on areas which will bear the greatest returns.
To do so, you could simply ask customers to rate the relative importance of different performance areas in driving their overall satisfaction with the relationship. However, that can be misleading because people don’t always have an accurate insight into why they feel a certain way. That’s exacerbated in B2B environments by a tendency for people to over-estimate the importance of rational factors.
So rather than asking customers directly, an alternative approach is to deduce what matters using a statistical technique called Regression Analysis. In a nutshell, Regression Analysis works by observing what happens to your overall satisfaction score when satisfaction scores in one area of the experience move up or down (but scores in other areas remain static). This reveals the relative power of each area of the experience in driving overall satisfaction. To paint a full picture, Regression Analysis should follow the same laddering process as your questioning – establish which areas of the experience drive overall satisfaction and then establish what in turn drives satisfaction within each experiential area.
So there we have it – a quick guide to measuring customer satisfaction. There’s of course a lot more to it. For example, you need to:
That’s something which you could achieve in house, but if you want to ensure complete objectivity and benefit from past experience, well, you know where to find us.
Read more about our approach to business-to-business (B2B) customer satisfaction surveys.
Andrew has specialised in B2B research for over a decade and co-founded Circle Research in 2006. He is a columnist for B2B Marketing Magazine, a regular contributor to Research Live and frequent speaker at leading events such as the B2B Leaders Forum, Customer Experience Live and the Social Media World Forum. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the MRS, teaches the MRS B2B research course and holds an MA in Psychology from Aberdeen University alongside an MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University.