Customer Experience News & Trends

4 costly customer feedback pitfalls you want to avoid now

Most B2Bs don’t operate like B2Cs, yet they gather customer feedback the same way. That makes for deceiving feedback.

Most companies practice traditional ways of getting customer feedback — mostly surveys, peppered with some focus groups. Those work especially well for the B2C model, but not as well for B2B operations, argues Evan LaHuta, Director of Customer Experience at Pershing LLC, a global financial services firm.

“In B2C, there are often simple transactions. It’s fast and you can survey right from there,” LaHuta says. “In B2B, (surveys) need to reflect the relationship.”

Yet, many B2Bs don’t differentiate their surveying and feedback processes from B2Cs.

Here are the four biggest pitfalls of measuring the B2B customer experience — plus how you can avoid them and get valuable feedback to improve the customer experience:

1. Fail to recognize multiple influencers

In most B2C situations, there is one consumer involved who can give feedback. B2B is quite different. There are multiple stakeholders.

“From the CEO, CFO, and in our case, investment advisors, everyone has an opinion of what a good experience is,” LaHuta says. “Some might say ‘ease of doing business’ is the key. Others might think ‘grow my business’ is the mark of satisfaction.”

So B2Bs can’t rely on periodic surveys sent to one person or a specific group for all of its feedback. Send some transactional surveys to the people inside the business who make the actual purchases. Then, do annual in-depth surveys to gauge satisfaction with your products and services.

Back up those B2C staples with periodic relationship meetings, where you can talk to decision-makers and stakeholders — and find out their group and individual levels of satisfaction.

2. Become annoying

Large B2C organizations have the luxury of sending thousands of surveys and never dealing with the same customer twice. In the B2B world, you likely deal with a smaller group, and it’s easy to become annoying with surveys because you have a much more limited population to interact with.

Pershing avoids this problem by screening their survey sends so no one receives a survey more than one time every quarter.

“A robust Voice of Business program is important, too,” LaHuta says.

For that, Pershing keeps and looks at speed, accuracy and professionalism of transactions. Sales records show how quickly and accurately it responded, delivered or followed up. Voice recognition programs allow it to measure how often front-line employees use words and phrases that are the cornerstone of professional experiences.

Measuring these three things helps keep a pulse on the experience without bugging the customers.

3. Don’t address the audience

Many B2C transactions and relationships are fast and informal. Most B2C transactions and relationships are rooted and more formal.

“You need to be tailored and customized to reflect that you already know what customers do and how they use (your products),” LaHuta says.

Part of that can be accomplished by measuring speed, accuracy and professionalism. It’s also important to keep an eye on customers’ activity and understand the products or services they use, how they use them and how often. Then questions can be tailored to their relationship with you.

B2Bs also want to tailor surveys and requests for feedback to their different types of customers within an organization. For instance, a personal conversation is more appropriate for the CEO who spends the money on the product. A five-question email survey is probably good for an end-user who contacts Customer Service from time to time.

4. Muddy the puddle

Because B2B transactions and relationships are sometimes complex or involved, there are many opportunities to “muddy the puddle,” as LaHuta puts it — a small splash can make the whole experience seem like a mess. Then the feedback gets muddled because customers and the company focus on the one little mistake that occurred.

Yes, you want to focus on, fix and prevent mistakes so the experience is seamless. But when getting feedback, put them in perspective.

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