Getting the Right Voice of the Customer in B2B Organizations

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We often get asked about best practices in B2B Net Promoter programs and this recent discussion on the Net Promoter Score Linked In community prompted me to share some of these thoughts.

Getting customer feedback in B2B relationships is quite different than in B2C, every voice is not equal when it comes to purchase decisions. I can make a decision to purchase the new iPad for my personal use, but am not able to influence the purchase of iPads for all Satmetrix employees (or we would all have one!). We call this getting the voice according to value.

Voice according to value takes two lenses for reviewing our feedback, customer segment (or account tier) and respondent’s role (decision maker, influencer and end user).


This is a critical part of having trustworthy data. Without this view of your Net Promoter Score and the drivers of loyalty, you may not be investing in the right things to improve business performance (retention, repurchase, and recommendation).

Many organizations rely on their CRM system to identify contacts to participate in the feedback process. Without proper governance and account team engagement, this can be extremely misleading and will definitely lead to low response rates. How well is your CRM system maintained with up-to-date contact information and identification of buyers’ roles? Best practice is to engage your account team in selecting the contacts, identifying their role, and having a governance process in place to review this list before the invitations begin.

Other key best practices for building trustworthy data and using your Net Promoter program to build strong business relationships include:

1. Active Recruitment. Account teams should personally reach out to the key players in your accounts and ask for their participation. Explain what the benefits are and what they can expect as a follow-up to the investment of time they give you. This is not about a survey; this is part of your account management process to ensure that you are delivering the expected value.

2. Internal education and field support tools. In order for your field teams to successfully engage the executives in the recruiting process, invest in internal education and supporting collateral to demonstrate this is a serious commitment on behalf of the company.

3. Role-based survey design is critical. Do not send a long survey with irrelevant questions. Focus on the areas relevant to each role. Chances are your executive contacts are not close enough to your product and service delivery to provide that level of detail, so focus your questions on value realization and the areas that matter most to each contact. Be careful of survey design by committee. The shorter the survey, the better.

4. Close the loop. None of this process matters if you don’t close the loop with the customer; tell him what you learned, what strengths you will continue to invest in, and what areas you have identified for improvement. Give him concrete actions you will take based on his feedback. In fact, review the account level results with all key players in the account, whether they responded to your survey or not. By showing the non-respondents how the information is used, you build stronger relationships, see where they may agree or disagree, and increase your chances that they will respond next time because they see that you take their feedback seriously.

These are just some of the best practices to consider in your B2B program. Just remember, this is not about the survey, it’s about the opportunity for dialogue with the key players in your accounts. Often the process itself results in stronger relationships, increased wallet share, and new sales opportunities.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Deborah Eastman
Deborah has spent her career with a passion for customer success. As the Chief Customer Officer at Satmetrix her responsibilities include thought leadership development, consulting, certification training, and continuous improvement of the Satmetrix experience. She is a frequent speaker and blogger on Net Promoter and Customer Experience.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Deborah Thanks for an interesting post. I really liked your “bigger voice” diagram. I’m interested to know who in your experience is the “you” that you refer to in the post. Who do find typically has the skills, authority and time to do this in a progressive B2B company ? In a lot of cases we often know what “you” should be doing but lack of time or resources and competing priorities can mean that these valuable tasks are left incomplete. As a supplementary question – how do you ensure that the “voice” gets to all the “nooks and crannies” of a business ?

  2. Dear Ray, thanks for the comment. The “you” I refer to is your organization and/or your Customer Experience/Net Promoter team. Driving the organizational change and achieving the desired business outcomes requires executive sponsorship. In B2B this often comes from the CMO or an executive assigned to drive customer experience across the enterprise. The CMO is common because into today’s world the experience is the brand. The executive sponsor typically has a program teams to drive the change across the business.
    As for your second question about how to get the voice of the customer into the nooks and crannies of the business? Well, this is a long topic, but let me provide some highlights:
    1. Engage your account teams (typically sales & services) to identify and recruit the RIGHT customers into your feedback process and close the loop in a way that changes relationships.
    2. Democratize data. Get account data to account teams, regional data to regional leaders, functional data to functional teams, etc. Get this out of your market research report and into the operations of the business.
    3. Build champion networks. Engage employees in every part of the organization to drive change. Best in class organization build a network of champions that drive change from “inside” the organization. (more on this in an upcoming post).
    4. Govern actions. Empower employees to act on customer feedback and govern the process to ensure actions happen. In b2b, this means action at the account level (build relationships), at the operating unit level (region, BU, etc), and at the corporate level (structural issues that impact customers). Build the right process to prioritize and drive improvements that improve loyalty.
    As I said, this is a big topic which I will continue to try to address in individual posts. Hope this helps!
    Deborah Eastman, Satmetrix

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