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B2B Customer Feedback: 5 Ways to Improve the Quantity and Quality of Insights

B2B Customer Feedback

B2B customer feedback responses hold the key for actionable insights. Here’s how to request feedback from customers that will lead to better business decisions.

B2B companies that put the customer experience first know they need enough meaningful feedback responses to glean valuable data about the customer experience. B2B customer feedback is the window into what drives customer satisfaction and by extension, customer loyalty. And, when it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than retain a current one, loyalty translates into success.

But, how exactly should businesses request feedback from customers in order to collect the most valuable responses that can help them to make better business decisions? The following guide outlines some industry terms to know and best practices to improve the quantity and quality of the B2B customer feedback you receive — a first step in maximizing a winning strategy that can lead to actionable insights.

Response Volume vs. Response Rate: Both Keys for Success

What matters most to understanding how to act: response volume or response rate? The answer is both, but in different circumstances.  

Response volume is the number of overall feedback responses for measuring product or service experiences you receive on a periodic basis. For instance, if you receive 300 customer feedback responses per week from 6,000 requests, it doesn’t matter that your response rate is only 5%. If you have lots of customers, then you likely are receiving enough response volume to understand product or service experiences. In general practice for each website, product or service you are measuring, more than 300 responses are ideal, and over 100 responses are enough to directionally know where things are going.

Response rate is the percentage of customers that respond to a feedback request from the overall number of requests sent. Response rate is the desired metric for measuring account relationship, project performance or health of account. You need as many of your key stakeholders in an account to respond to better understand the health of your account. Nonresponders are a potential liability; therefore, you want to achieve the highest response rate you can within each account. A good benchmark is over 50% response rate.

It’s Time to Expand Who You Request Feedback From

Many B2B companies send feedback requests only to the direct buyer of a product or service, but there are many more people who directly or indirectly are touched by your company. Their feedback matters, too! How can you get a true picture of the experience if you don’t listen to the voice of everyone involved?

You need to meet your customers where they are.

That’s why you need to build a matrix of all the stakeholders who could provide relevant feedback. Any single buying influence can increase or decrease your likelihood of future success. Some key players who could provide meaningful feedback include:

  • Economic buyer – The person whose budget your revenue comes from
  • Program champion(s) – Key sponsors within the organization
  • Users– People who actually are end users of your offering
  • Technical or maintainers – Think IT services, facility maintenance or service teams
  • Purchasing, fulfillment and logistics – Procurement teams or people responsible for receiving and inspecting your offering
  • Partners – Indirect sales, value-added resellers, consultants or integrators that are directly involved with your offering and your client

How to Improve Responses to Traditional Feedback Requests

Traditional feedback requests are predominantly in the form of an email survey request, and in rare occurrences, a form survey delivered via mail. However, there are several ways to improve the response volume and rate of these feedback requests.

  • Timing is everything: Send your email request on Tuesday or Wednesday. Mondays and Fridays generate the worst number of responses for obvious reasons.
  • And, be considerate of time: Show that you value a respondent’s time. Your invitation text and question list should be kept as short as possible so as not to deter a response. Additionally, you need to be transparent about how long completion of the survey will take. A good feedback request should target fewer than 5 minutes, which corresponds to approximately 10-16 questions.
  • Give them a reason to open up: Make sure the viewable email subject line will trigger your client to open it.  Some inboxes support no more than 30 characters, so make them count.
  • Record incomplete feedback: If customers answer your primary questions, a primary score and some open-ended feedback responses shouldn’t be discarded if someone didn’t answer page 6 questions.
  • Keep the conversation open: Include an open-ended “why do you feel this way” box immediately after your primary question. This will allow the customer to tell you the why instead of you asking 20 multiple-choice questions that try to understand.

Expanding Feedback Channels Beyond the Traditional

There are many ways to move beyond traditional email surveys — and it’s important you do so. You need to meet your customers where they are.

When you request feedback from customers, it should be formatted to work well on a mobile web browser so that your clients can answer on-the-go. For clients who have a mobile phone number in your CRM, try text message/SMS enabled feedback requests. Additionally, be creative by incorporating QR codes for launching requests. This can be embedded in presentations/slides, on products or in company literature.

You should also consider enabling customers to record voice for open-ended feedback responses. Open ends tell you the true “why” customers feel the way they do and might provide a more detailed and insightful response. And, if voice is good, then video can be even better. Allow customers to record a video of the “why” behind their rating. Video captures even more relevant emotion and helps rally employees behind a real customer.

For account relationship and health periodic requests, rather than sending the full list of questions, try sending a pulse feedback request. Pulses can be three questions with one open-ended question. The open end could be enhanced with a voice or video recording.

On the unsolicited end, there are golden opportunities to listen to your customers’ unbounded feedback. Increasingly your customers are talking about the experiences with your company that is not in the form of a direct feedback request. So, how can you leverage this to make better business decisions?

How can you get a true picture of the experience if you don’t listen to the voice of everyone involved?

For starters, collect and analyze feedback from your own social media pages as well as online ratings and review sites. You can also collect feedback from user forums and communities. There might also be industry forums where you can collect feedback about your company. And, many of the sites you collect product feedback may also collect your competitors’ feedback. Why not grab their ratings and reviews feedback while you’re at it for some additional insight?

Nonresponders Still Hold Valuable Feedback: How to Follow Up

Not every customer will respond to your initial request for feedback, but that doesn’t mean they’re down for the count in your feedback efforts. Some of them may respond on a subsequent request. So how should you handle nonresponders?

Feedback requests are meant to be unbiased. That’s why it’s important to not let a survey request linger too long. The rule of thumb is seven days before expiration, with 14 days being the maximum. Expiration dates are important because you want to avoid a biased response two months later, for instance.

For a nonresponder, follow up one or two more times if the feedback is important. This is a generally expected practice in account relationship and health feedback requests. On those follow-ups, be transparent and notify the nonresponder that this is a subsequent request. Then, notify them when it is the “Last and Final Request.” Generally, many people want to respond but will deprioritize until they receive a nudge that this is final.

Ready to amplify your customer experience strategy and see how customer feedback responses can lead to actionable insights? Download Medallia’s Setting the Standard in CX for B2B whitepaper today.