Customer feedback is invaluable for any business.
It tells you whether you’re delivering a great product, sales or support experience. It reveals why customers buy from you—and what would make them buy more even more.
But when you’re selling to B2B customers, creating a successful feedback program can be tough.
For one thing, you have fewer customers to survey, and your relationships with them are more personal and complex than in a B2C market. For another, your customers are higher value. You can’t afford to annoy them with too-frequent feedback requests, or tedious box-ticking exercises.
So, if you’ve recently been made responsible for B2B customer experience, you’re doing exactly the right thing—looking for expert advice.
Here are some pro tips to help you get started.
When you’re planning your program…
#1 Ask for the time you’ll need
Planning a B2B customer feedback program takes effort, expertise—and time. Make sure your organization understands this, and is willing to give you the time you’ll need.
#2 Make sure you’re going to get valid results
If your company doesn’t trust the feedback you gather, all your time and effort will be in vain. And in B2B—with smaller customer bases, and greater differences in customer spend—it’s usually much harder to identify a representative customer sample.
Doing so, and getting valid results, is ultimately a mixture of art and science:
- The art – identify your most important customers based on segment, turnover, and the depth of your existing relationship, and make sure they’re include in your program
- The science – find the right level of statistical power for your broader customer base (or get an expert to do it for you)
#3 Think about when you’ll contact customers
Timing is crucial. You should plan to approach customers just after a transaction, when their experience with your company is fresh in their mind. If contacting customers immediately after a transaction isn’t an option, you’ll need to develop a survey with a broader focus—one designed to determine the strength and vibrancy of the overall account relationship.
You’ll also want to establish rules (and a process to enforce them) that make sure regular customers won’t be hassled for feedback every other week. Exactly how long you should ‘rest’ a customer for will depend on your business, but if in doubt, we say it’s always better to under survey.
As part of our ExperienceConnect service, our experts create a tailored B2B customer feedback program for you—identifying a representative customer sample, advising on when to survey them, and even helping ensure they aren’t over-contacted.
When you’re designing your survey…
#1 Don’t rely on email alone
In B2C, where sample sizes are huge and customer relationships are typically lower value, contacting them by email is the natural choice.
But in B2B, it generally makes both economic and business sense to do a phone survey, and save email surveys for following up on comparatively simple and low value transactions.
#2 Make it a great experience for the customer
A great customer feedback experience feels like an ordinary, human interaction.
Whether a customer is talking on the telephone, or answering an email survey, you want the experience to feel as conversational as possible. This means asking short, open-ended questions in plain English—and remembering to test your survey in advance! A thorough test will quickly reveal problems with flow and question-phrasing that you might otherwise miss.
For telephone surveys, you’ll want to capture the customer’s comments verbatim, flagging up the key themes—e.g. “great service” or “responsiveness”—so you can run analytics on these later on.
Get all this right, and you’ll gain deeper insights from a handful of questions than from a survey many times the length. What’s more, your customers will come away feeling even better about your company than they did before.
#3 Ask the right questions
If you’re running a baseline survey—to understand how your customers are generally feeling about your business, right now—you can’t beat the classic question: “How likely are you to recommend us to someone else?” And here are some brilliant follow-ups:
- “Why did you buy [your product or service]?”
- “Why did you buy from us, rather than [the competition]?”
Touching base with a customer after a transaction, to gather some ongoing feedback? There’s nothing like a simple, “Overall, how did it go?” followed up with “What went well?” and “What could have gone better?”
The first few things that the customer mentions will be their important “feelings” about the transaction, so make sure you pay attention!
If you aren’t confident about designing your survey or handling feedback conversations—or you simply don’t have the resources—our ExperienceConnect service can help. With ExperienceConnect:
- You’ll have expert assistance in designing your survey questions and approach, be it email or phone
- Your customer calls will be handled by trained professionals
- Your customers may feel they can talk more honestly to a third party
- There will be zero chance of an interviewer taking your customer’s words personally
When you’ve gathered the feedback…
#1 Pipe the results to the right people
Customer feedback is only valuable when it’s acted on. So, decide who needs to see your results, and create a process to make sure the feedback you’re gathering gets analyzed, visualized, and piped straight to their inboxes.
#2 Make sure you can move fast
Sometimes a customer’s feedback will highlight an extremely urgent issue. Other times, a customer’s sheer positivity will suggest an immediate follow up action—such as asking them for a glowing testimonial.
Either way, you need to be able to respond to their feedback fast. Modern tools for recording customer feedback can help, letting you set up triggers and alerts for certain scores or issues.
#3 Let customers know you’ve listened
Whether your customers’ comments require immediate attention or suggest opportunities that will take longer to address, it’s important to let them know you’ve listened to their feedback. That means having someone in your organization follow up with the customer whenever necessary. It also means publicizing the changes you’ve made based on what your customers have told you.
You should do this through the same channel you usually use to communicate with customers—be that email, your blog, or your website.
Our experience shows that when customers offer suggestions and a client acts on them, it creates a virtuous feedback loop. The customer saw that someone listened and took action!
- The right technology can make acting on feedback much, much easier.
- Our cloud-based feedback system—part of the ExperienceConnect service—provides a central place for recording, analyzing and reporting on feedback.
- It also allows you to set up real-time alerts, and ensure all feedback is directed to the people who need to see it.
That’s it! Now it’s time to change your business forever.
We hope you find these tips useful.
Setting up a B2B customer feedback program may be a daunting task, but if you get it right, the rewards are massive too.
You’ll be the person who helped your business understand its customers like never before, and change things for the better. Again. And Again. And again.
Want to learn more about how we can help you design and execute your customer feedback program? Use the button below to request a live demo of our ExperienceConnect service, led by a senior member of our team.
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