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Gathering and acting on B2B customer feedback

6 min read
B2B is about quality not quantity, with a small number of customers generating a large amount of revenue. Personalised service and an ability to act quickly on B2B customer feedback will help you maintain great customer experiences.


Collect, analyse, act

In B2B, customer feedback data is crucial for maintaining your client relationships over the long term. In this article, we lay out a best practice roadmap for first collecting B2B feedback, and then turning feedback into actions.

Contacting customers

Adopt a bespoke approach for each customer, choosing how, where and who you’ll ask for feedback. Try adopting a personalised approach, using the existing relationships you have with key customers to help drive participation and increase your sample size.

  • Create a respondent map for each customer organisation and create rules around when each should be contacted
  • Target survey requests very carefully to ensure that the right individuals are being asked to participate
  • Make the feedback experience feel as personalised to each individual as possible – the less generic the research feels to the respondent the better
  • Leverage your entire account team (sales, customer support, etc) to optimise contacts
  • It is better to use more but smaller and very targeted surveys than larger more general surveys

Survey frequency

Survey fatigue is real. Keep a continual check on survey frequency to make sure your customer relationships aren’t suffering.

  • Do not over-survey your customers or they may feel spammed and stop responding
  • Generally only assess the relationship 1-2 times per year
  • Create contact frequency rules to not send transactional survey invitations to any given customer email address more than once per month

Response rates

A good response rate is generally around 30%, but your results may vary. Maximise your responses to achieve statistically significant results.

  • Focus on achieving the response rate that minimises nonresponse bias – this requires measuring possible nonresponse bias on key individual metrics
  • Make the survey request salient to the customer by highlighting the value of the research to their experience
  • Work with the customer in advance to assure response and send a pre-notification

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Blinding surveys

  • Avoid blinding (anonymising) surveys in B2B customer feedback programmes
  • In some contexts it may be worth having a blinded feedback form on a website, but in general you will always want to be able to identify which customer provided the feedback in case it is necessary to close the loop with them

Incentivisation

In general, incentives can boost response rates in surveys, but in B2B, tread with care.

  • Incentivise internally based on survey response rates or closing the loop
  • Do not use monetary incentives with B2B customers
  • To add value to their participation, consider providing a report back to respondents about the data collected and actions taken by your organisation as a result (e.g. “We closed the loop with 100% of dissatisfied customers and implemented process improvements x, y, and z.”)

Closing the loop – following up with customers

Following up on feedback is called closing the loop. The “inner loop” is about taking action in response to individual customer feedback. Here’s how.

  • Define the closed loop process internally including the systems and teams responsible for taking action
  • Explain to customers why you want their feedback – i.e. to improve your service to them
  • Collect feedback at specific touchpoints in the journey as well as at a relationship level
  • Define rules around what will trigger alerts including setting rules around prioritisation such as account/customer value
  • Enable your teams with training, escalation processes, toolkits and resources to resolve or mitigate issues for the customer.
  • Deploy a ticketing or workflow system to manage and report on progress, number of open tickets, length tickets are open etc.

Closing the loop – organisational changes

Close the “outer loop” by making macro-level organisational changes in response to B2B customer feedback.

  • Use key driver analysis to understand the most important issues to customers and how you’re currently performing
  • Prioritise your areas of improvement, taking into account:
    • Importance
    • Performance
    • Volume of customers impacted
    • Value of customers impacted
    • Operational viability
    • Commercial feasibility
  • Manage your project with standard project and program management methodology to
    ensure the initiatives are delivered
  • Measure the customer, operational and commercial impact once the initiative has
    been delivered

Demonstrating strategic value

The most successful CX programs are able to demonstrate how they impact the organisation’s key operational metrics. If you can demonstrate a direct link between your actions and financial performance, you’ll gain buy-in to further improve the customer experience.

  • Always identify as many potential external sources of data that may be linked to the survey data as possible
  • Work to develop the link between experience data and operational data within your organisation, this can vary widely even within industries
  • Use business data to assess survey data for bias
  • A strong bias indicator is present if (a) the distribution of the auxiliary data differ between respondents and nonrespondents, and if (b) those variables are correlated with the experience data. To test the latter some linkage between auxiliary variables and experience data is necessary, though not for all cases, which could help with privacy concerns.
  • Consider including paradata metrics (process information about how surveys are used) to assess things like survey health

Free whitepaper: The Complete Guide to B2B Customer Experience