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Why are you using a B2C approach and solution for B2B Customer Feedback?

Posted on February 1, 2018 , by Steve Bernstein
Why are you using a B2C approach and solution for B2B Customer Feedback?

If your company sells products and services to other businesses (B2B), are you confident that your customer engagement process is utilizing an effective B2B approach?  Many companies make the mistake of relying on their own experiences as consumers to implement “survey” programs in their businesses.  But B2B is a completely different structure than B2C, and you’re most certainly missing out on important benefits if you’re using traditional consumer approaches in your B2B organization.  Yes, B2B is more complex so it might be tempting to think like a consumer, but in doing so you’d be obviating critical benefits from your program.  Here are some of the critical differences between a B2B- and a B2C-oriented feedback/NPS program:




Why gather feedback?

Customer happiness to accelerate positive customer word-of-mouth:

  • Does the product meet expectations?
  • Is the company easy to work with (support, service)?
Strengthen customer relationships to

  • Gain a proactive warning of churn
  • Optimize expansion opportunities
  • Gain new sales opportunities as contacts can be activated for referrals and/or move to new employers

From whom will you acquire

The person that interacted with the experience Various people based on the role (persona) of the different
contacts in the account:

  • The people that made the purchase decision
  • The end users who interact with the products
    & services
  • The people that will make repurchase or
    renewal decisions

What feedback to acquire and

Aggregated results by segment (where segments are divided into different channels / treatment strategies and products). Examples: 

  • Airlines shouldn’t combine feedback from first-class or million-mile passengers customers with economy
  • Retailers shouldn’t combine feedback from in-store vs. on-line
Account-level (1:1) and also Aggregated by segment (1:Many). Examples:

  • Understand the relationship strength and health of each strategic account individually, by understanding the sentiment of all contacts across the various personas (decision maker, end user, program manager, etc), enabling CSMs to see what’s working/not-working within their accounts, individually
  • Aggregate feedback for small-accounts in which the decision maker is likely also a user, by segment (products and other differentiated customer treatment / segmentation)
  • Aggregated feedback for each key step in the customer lifecycle, based on persona (contact “role” in the product purchase and utilization)

When to get feedback?

Significant steps in the customer lifecycle (sales & ordering, receive and use, support, return/upgrade) Relationships trump individual experiences, and relationships are based on meeting customer expectations throughout their lifecycle:

  • For Decision Makers & Budget Holders (and potentially also for key influencers), “expectations” are generally around business outcomes – results – that your sales and marketing efforts evangelize.  And since these executives don’t generally use your products and services directly, the overall relationship needs to be assessed periodically.
  • For End Users that interact with your products and services, “expectations” are generally around overall ease (including quality) of the overall experience.  Sentiment around the individual experiences is key for End Users, but still be cognizant that the End User outcomes are critical to measure.

For example, the outcome from an End User for interacting with your product *should* be that their jobs are made better/easier.  An outcome of using the product is NOT if they are satisfied (a very low bar — ‘satisfaction’ isn’t why companies buy from you — they want outcomes!) or likely to recommend your company (a brand attribute, not a product attribute)

How to collect feedback?

Provide a survey and ensure a statistically significant number of responses for any given segment (i.e. a representative sample per segment). Utilize CSMs, Account Managers, and Sales (i.e. the people that should have a relationship with the given contact) to help request and act on feedback in pursuit of strengthening relationships.  This can be automated or high-touch, but needs to be used to engage the contact to drive improvement (i.e. not a “survey” that is just for measurement, but instead a request for feedback that will be acted upon to drive the right improvements for the customer contacts). 

  1. How census (not sample) of the entire customer (account) base is critical – especially for large strategic accounts that contribute a large portion of revenue – versus a “representative” sample that may not represent the emotions and needs of an individual strategic account.
  2. The definition of “representative-ness” – unlike B2C where most customers are essentially equal revenue contributors in any given segment, B2B businesses should understand the percentage of revenue they are hearing from, and how well that feedback represents the business (in financial terms).

Where to capture feedback?

During the experience, or shortly following a given experience. However, you must consider the customer’s complete lifecycle in the experience.  For example, when a customer contacts you for Customer Service, the right time for feedback about the call center could be immediately following the call.  But the right time to get feedback about the extent to which you resolved the customers’ issue could be days or weeks following the interaction (for example, if the customer was calling regarding a billing issue then the time for feedback is following the next bill).
  • Periodically throughout the customer lifetime, and especially in support of QBRs (for large/strategic accounts).  For example, getting feedback following a QBR will only tell you if the customer found the QBR useful, which isn’t much of an outcome to measure.  But getting feedback in ADVANCE of a QBR helps drive the QBR agenda and enables effective prioritization and planning DURING the QBR.  The mere presence of an effective account plan, that was jointly agreed by you and by the customer decision makers, is good evidence of a CSM doing a good job.
  • Also, connected to individual experiences – especially for end users of your products and services – so you can understand where product and process improvements might be required to attain the necessary outcomes faster.

For example, you conduct “onboarding” processes to ensure that customers are effectively positioned to get the results (outcomes) they expect. That is, an “onboarding” experience isn’t about their satisfaction with the onboarding processes, but instead should be about the customers’ ability to utilize your products and services to do their job following the onboarding phase.  Therefore, continuing this example, collecting feedback about onboarding needs to occur within a sufficient time following the onboarding phase to make sure there are no gaps or concerns.  AND the “onboarding” phase needs to be CONTINUALLY re-utilized as new employees come and go – both end users that might not have received the initial training and also decision makers, since they can come and go and have changing requirements around business strategy or outcomes.

TopBox is a cost-efficient SaaS solution made for B2B companies that complements your CRM (e.g. Salesforce) and/or Customer Success platform (e.g. Gainsight, Totango, ClientSuccess) with unmatched visualizations and data collection techniques, providing powerful insights to optimize priorities and actions across your company.  Among other capabilities, TopBox

  • Measures effectiveness of the individual and aggregated customer journeys and overall relationships, pinpointing optimal areas of focus
  • Allows CS team to engage internal cross-functional teams to drive the right improvements
  • Enables CSMs to strengthen customer relationships by driving the right customer interactions, including more effective QBRS

We’re happy to show you a demo so you can (literally!) see what you’ve been missing by not having TopBox visualizations.