Getting the Right Voice of the Customer in B2B Organizations
We often get asked about best practices in B2B Net Promoter programs and this recent discussion on the Net Promoter Score Linked In community prompted me to share some of these thoughts.
Getting customer feedback in B2B relationships is quite different than in B2C, every voice is not equal when it comes to purchase decisions. I can make a decision to purchase the new iPad for my personal use, but am not able to influence the purchase of iPads for all Satmetrix employees (or we would all have one!). We call this getting the voice according to value.
Voice according to value takes two lenses for reviewing our feedback, customer segment (or account tier) and respondent’s role (decision maker, influencer and end user).
This is a critical part of having trustworthy data. Without this view of your Net Promoter Score and the drivers of loyalty, you may not be investing in the right things to improve business performance (retention, repurchase, and recommendation).
Many organizations rely on their CRM system to identify contacts to participate in the feedback process. Without proper governance and account team engagement, this can be extremely misleading and will definitely lead to low response rates. How well is your CRM system maintained with up-to-date contact information and identification of buyers’ roles? Best practice is to engage your account team in selecting the contacts, identifying their role, and having a governance process in place to review this list before the invitations begin.
Other key best practices for building trustworthy data and using your Net Promoter program to build strong business relationships include:
1. Active Recruitment. Account teams should personally reach out to the key players in your accounts and ask for their participation. Explain what the benefits are and what they can expect as a follow-up to the investment of time they give you. This is not about a survey; this is part of your account management process to ensure that you are delivering the expected value.
2. Internal education and field support tools. In order for your field teams to successfully engage the executives in the recruiting process, invest in internal education and supporting collateral to demonstrate this is a serious commitment on behalf of the company.
3. Role-based survey design is critical. Do not send a long survey with irrelevant questions. Focus on the areas relevant to each role. Chances are your executive contacts are not close enough to your product and service delivery to provide that level of detail, so focus your questions on value realization and the areas that matter most to each contact. Be careful of survey design by committee. The shorter the survey, the better.
4. Close the loop. None of this process matters if you don’t close the loop with the customer; tell him what you learned, what strengths you will continue to invest in, and what areas you have identified for improvement. Give him concrete actions you will take based on his feedback. In fact, review the account level results with all key players in the account, whether they responded to your survey or not. By showing the non-respondents how the information is used, you build stronger relationships, see where they may agree or disagree, and increase your chances that they will respond next time because they see that you take their feedback seriously.
These are just some of the best practices to consider in your B2B program. Just remember, this is not about the survey, it’s about the opportunity for dialogue with the key players in your accounts. Often the process itself results in stronger relationships, increased wallet share, and new sales opportunities.