“The odds of hitting your target increase exponentially when you aim at it.”
Editor’s note: Here is a quick one-sentence recap of part one: not including non-respondents (the disengaged) in your calculations is messing up your NPS data. If you didn’t read it, feel free to check it out or at least skim it here.
As we pointed out in part 1, especially in B2B firms, good things come with good response rates. As a matter of fact, response rates might be more telling than NPS in B2B. In this article we’ll talk about selecting the right people to send feedback requests to. As you will see, this helps achieve the goal of increasing response rates.
What is the definition of response rate?
We often see response rate represented as something like this: 22%
A better practice would be to represent it like this: 22/100 = 22%
Meaning of 100 feedback requests sent out, 22 people took the time out to fill it out and return it. And that “22” number (the numerator) usually becomes the priority.
The “100” number (denominator) is what really matters. If those 100 people aren’t the right people than the 22 responses don’t mean anything.
Well, you ask, in B2B we have contacts that come and go… how do we figure out who the CORRECT 100 contacts are? I’m glad you asked.
Making friends with your denominator
Before we discuss ways to hone in on the best contacts to make your feedback mean something, allow me to point out some bad ways:
- CRM based list. I see many companies simply exporting all contacts out of Salesforce.Com (or other CRM) and calling that list the “customer list.” The problem with using this as the basis of your list is that we typically find that upward of 90% of the contacts are out of date. These contacts were most likely created during the sale by the sales team. But as the sales team meets more people during the process of making a sale, they often neglect to go back and update contacts.Plus, once the team closes the deal, different contacts emerge. New contacts are involved in the implementation, people get promoted, find new jobs, etc. and then the company finds new people to fill those slots.The other problem is once the sale is made; the sales team is no longer involved. So obviously, they aren’t staying on top of the list.I’m not saying it’s impossible to use a CRM list. If need be, you can use one, but before you do, make sure you validate it.
- A list based on people who are registered on your product. The major difficulty here is this list is most likely compromised of only end users. So what about decision makers? What about the budget holders and other key business influencers? Both of these groups want some sort of value associated with your products and services, and are major influencers of buying decisions. Problem is, they aren’t on this list.
- A list consisting of all people who have contacted you for support. If you go this route, who isn’t included? People who have never contacted support. This list totally excludes them.
So how do we get good denominators (i.e. good lists)? Well, first, let’s find out who knows the account. Notice I didn’t say who has the most day-to-day contact with the account. You need someone who sees the big picture. Who knows the buying committee? Who knows the people who are calling the shots on the client’s end?
You who knows the client best? The client.
This is especially true for mega clients. If you really want to know about the customer, ask the customer.
Which often means you need account management to help you compile the list. I have yet to see an organization go through this process and not discover inadequacies as far as having the proper contacts. Here’s some tips on getting the account management team to help you build the list. Say these 6 things to them:
- “You will gain insights you don’t currently have.” Then review your questionnaire with them to show how much insight they can gain from your questionnaire (your questionnaire does help them, not just assess them or ask questions that they don’t care about…right?). Remind them this is not just going to their day-to-day contacts, so no, they can’t just ask the questions next time they are on the phone.
- “We have a program that will strengthen your relationship with the client.” Because you are asking for feedback from the client, which helps you better serve the client. Few are the clients that don’t enjoy good service.
- “Account team, it’s not a survey; it’s a feedback request.” Because that’s what it really is, you aren’t asking to be graded, you are asking for feedback.
- “You’ll get better feedback.” Because you absolutely, positively will.
- ”The rest of the company will get feedback from client. This will help improve systems you have no control of.” Gently remind them of times in the past when they complained about how things would be better if so and so department did this and that better.
- “The product team will have trustworthy data.” The reason it will be trustworthy is because it comes from the right contacts and if that is achieved, your feedback request will have high response rates.
Now you’ve “sold” the program to the account teams.
You need their help anyway… who’s going to close-the-loop with their accounts? They’ll benefit from this, and you have an “ask” of them: Please help us validate the lists with their clients. How?
There’s a simple process we call Active Recruiting.
- The account manager should position the program with their primary contact. They are talking to this person on regular basis anyway, so next time they are talking to them they should mention this very cool program that the company has invested in, which will provide clients with a better experience (i.e. it’s for the clients, not “us”).
- The account manager should ask, “Who else in the account is in a position to tell us how we’re delivering value and helping to drive results with our products and services?
BINGO. We’ve got our list.
So you’ve gone through this exercise and now you have a much better target list. Which means you have MUCH better client insights.
Translation: You can now better sell your product and do it much faster. Let me know if any of the account team complains about that.
Now you need to increase response rates from your list. Some of that will happen anyway, since you now have a much better list. But there are also other ways to increase the number of responses you receive.
More on that in part 3 of this series. See you then…and in the mean time, check out how the team at Digital Insight increased their response rates to a whopping 80+% in our latest webinar.