B2B Customer Surveys – how to nail them


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Listening to your customers is a vital skill. That much is obvious.

Your current Voice of the Customer activities may be falling short of the mark and not giving you the insights you suspect are out there. Customer satisfaction surveys might not be giving you the information you expect. Asking too many questions may even have annoyed your customers.

As a B2B company, you are likely to have many touchpoints within your customers – those who purchase your products, those who use them, the decision makers and the influencers. Who to target and how you approach them will vary depending on the objectives you set.

If you are setting up a customer survey for your B2B clients, here are some things we suggest you think about.

Before you start:

  • Make sure you have senior management support – this activity needs to be part of an overall ‘Customer Insight’ strategy. How mature your company is in terms of it’s customer engagement will determine how much this resonates with the senior management team. If you are in an organisation with low maturity, get a senior management sponsor. If your maturity levels are higher, ensure that this activity sits within the agreed framework, share best practice with other departments.
  • Have a clear purpose and expected outcomes – like all things, good planning is vital.

What do you want to achieve?

The desired outcome and the objectives drive the type of engagement and will ensure your ask the right questions of the right people.

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) will show at an operational level how you are performing. This focuses on the transactional elements of your relationship and what the respondant thinks of the service at that point in time. Operational issues can be identified and dissatisfied customers quickly targeted. Be aware: Highly satisfied customers are not necessarily loyal customers
  • If you need a measure of loyalty then you can incorporate an NPS (Net Promoter Score) type question
  • To get a better understanding about your customers, especially decision makers and influencers, who they are, their plans, their issues and deeper insights into your customer’s future plans, you need to consider a different activity – face to face reviews are a good way of probing your customers and finding out more about how they see you as a supplier

Who do you need to get feedback from?

The network of contacts within your customers is often extensive – customer satisfaction feedback is obtained at operational level, deeper insight from a more senior level. Customer journey mapping and customer contact maps are useful tools.

Top tips for a successful B2B survey

  • Keep it short
  • Collect the right metrics over time and monitor efficacy
  • Test the survey before launch…. again ……. and again
  • Plan for the feedback and what you will do with it
  • Ownership of the activity at a senior level

Surveys for B2B organisations are best used to track and measure:

  • Voice of the customer – Understand if you are meeting expectations, establish tactical and strategic action plan
  • Brand surveys – Assess relative strength of brand and customer perceptions
  • Customer satisfaction surveys (C-SAT) – Highlight areas of strength and opportunities for improvement and action
  • Tracking over time – Monitor impact of improvement actions through customer response
Rob Brickle
Rob Brickle is Managing Director of Bsquared Consulting, a company which specialises in helping organisations improve their business-to-business customer engagement and loyalty. Rob has many years experience advising business leaders on change and strategy and has a passion for helping organisations maximise the lifetime value of their relationships with key customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders.


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