What are the measurable benefits of a formal B2B Customer Feedback Program?
When we first discuss the idea of a formal B2B customer feedback program with a prospective client, one question is what are the measurable benefits of such a program. It is an excellent question. I can point to numerous studies showing improved business outcomes stemming from enhanced customer experiences. For example, we know that customers who give a 9 or 10 on the likelihood to recommend account for nearly all active referrals in many of the markets we serve. External research shows many positive outcomes from better customer experience. This Medium article provides a concise summary.
What would be missing without a B2B Customer Feedback Program?
The “harder” measures of business outcomes are all well and good. So what are people who are involved with improving customer experience saying about the benefits of a B2B customer feedback program? Let me share some of what I learned (with minor editing for clarity and length).
Starting in the executive suite, I posed the question of what would be missing without a B2B customer feedback program to the president and dealer principal of a large construction equipment dealer in the Southwestern US. “We would be missing vital feedback from one of our most important stakeholders, our customers. Moreover, we would not have the ability to change promptly to improve our customers’ experience. And, we have made several changes in how we serve our customers as a result of the program.”
Continuing, I asked managers at three different clients who are very involved with their companies’ B2B Customer Feedback programs what it does for them.
A formal B2B customer feedback program gives us a view into the customer’s world minus our prejudices and preconceived notions.
The transparency is invaluable and lets us know what we’re doing well and where we need work and focus. This transparency can be too honest for some. In addition, I was surprised about the animosity I encountered by managers who didn’t like the customer feedback and what it revealed about the way they were conducting business. Most importantly, the customer feedback program motivates us to do better.
We take great pride in having world-class NPS® scores. Above all, I don’t think we’d have these scores without the robust program we have in place. Feedback and reporting allow us to react, improve, and train. It lays a foundation from which we can build.
The B2B customer feedback program provides an opportunity for our clients to tell us what we are doing RIGHT!
This feedback channel tells us what we are doing that has the greatest impact as it relates to our ability to share positive comments/notes/ and good jobs to our teams up and down the organization. As a service organization, we are accustomed to capturing and sharing mistakes and opportunities internally. However, this comment is not a negative as we are a competitive bunch and push each other hard for the benefit of our clients. Our front line and client-facing teams ask our clients, “How can we help, what can we fix for you?” Likewise, the survey program provided another channel to gather positive comments as well as opportunities.
The formal scoring provided semi-objective (we are asking opinions after all) balance to our other channels of client perspective and feedback.
Reason #1: Measuring B2B Customer Experience Performance
How are we doing today? If Customer Experience is a crucial part of our strategy, we need to know how we are doing today. If it is not, then we don’t need to know that. So, the first question is: “Is Customer Experience a key part of our strategy?” If so, you need to do some surveys, and you need to do enough to be able to measure your main value-creating processes you will not know how you are performing and if you are achieving your strategy.
Surveying is not enough. The next step is improving. If we decide that we want to improve, we all know that Customer Experience has two parts, Culture and Process. Both are important, but Culture eats Process for lunch, so we need to start there.
Reason #2: Improving Culture
There are many things we can do to improve culture. We can increase training. We can improve corporate communications. Did you know that the proven best way to change culture is for supervisors to discuss customer experience initiatives? This communication should be happening on a daily or weekly basis to be effective. Customer Feedback helps to facilitate these conversations. Consequently, employees and supervisors have real-life examples of how their behaviors and actions impacted customers and can discuss what they did. This feedback loop helps employees understand acceptable vs. unacceptable actions/behaviors that cannot be addressed through training. These real-life events are the best way to take that training and apply it through real life. As a result, the more surveys we receive, the more conversations we will create, and the more people will be involved.
Reason #3: Improving Processes
As we work to improve processes, we can identify which methods are necessary to customers by weighing their comments and complaints. Furthermore, we consider which processes we are getting better at by asking them more detailed questions or monitoring the number of mentions/complaints.
Reason #4: Identifying struggling areas
The formal program provides a way to drill down to areas that are struggling with performance. Additionally, it is ideal to have other process metrics to monitor these areas so we can see their actual actions/behaviors and identify problems much earlier.
In conclusion, these managers are on the front line of customer experience and the key points they make are:
- Gives you what your customers like and dislike about the service and informs improvement efforts.
- Helps balance customer needs with those of other stakeholders.
- Provides an opportunity for front line employees to discuss customer needs with specific customer feedback.
- Identifies areas of weakness as well as instances of excellent performance.
If the points made by these managers are things you are looking for, 2020 is a great time to start your B2B Customer Feedback journey.
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