By Andrew Dalglish - 22nd October 2013
Customers are your lifeblood. But it’s tough to actively manage these relationships unless you understand how they feel about you. That’s why every B2B business needs a programme of regular customer satisfaction research.
Take care though. Get it wrong and you can actually make things a whole lot worse…
- Relationships matter. Don’t try and bypass those who ‘own’ the customer relationship within your organisation. Gain their support for the research first, or they and customers may react negatively. Moreover, if they need to take action based on the survey gaining their support upfront is critical
- Reflect your business. The weight each individual has in influencing the overall survey results needs to reflect their importance, or the importance of their ‘type’, to your business
- Spend more time with major accounts. These strategically important relationships need to be explored in depth and multiple viewpoints included in the survey
- Don’t just focus on the negatives. Too many customer satisfaction studies focus on what’s going wrong. Don’t be so pessimistic; ask questions which explore what you’re doing really well as this will let you spread best practice
- React in real-time. Include options in the survey for customers to request immediate contact about an issue or concern. This prevents these issues from becoming critical
- Be smart. Using statistical techniques like Regression Analysis reveals what truly drives customer loyalty. It’s not always what they think
- Plan for action. The real work starts after the survey. Ensure you ask customers to waive their anonymity, so you can meet with them to jointly develop action plans based on their feedback. Run workshops with all customer-facing staff so that they understand where it is critical to perform. Set KPIs and targets to incentivise action, or better still, link customer satisfaction metrics to bonuses
- Follow up. Customers have taken the time to support you, so make sure you thank them. And don’t repeat the survey until change has been implemented and had a chance to bite, usually around 12 months in a B2B environment
Read more about our approach to business-to-business (B2B) customer satisfaction surveys.
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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.