Business-to-business (B2B) relationships are complex, comprising multiple individuals across different levels, products, regions and functions. Connections within a B2B account hold varying degrees of influence and decision-making power, directly impacting the state of the business relationship. This requires a nuanced approach in the way you capture feedback and channel it to the right people within your organization for follow up and action. Here are four best practices and resources to help you simplify the process and successfully close the loop for your top-tier B2B accounts.
Keeping a Pulse on Account Health
Many B2B organizations simply send out a single, annual relationship survey. We found that of companies that collect overall account or relationship feedback, 21% collect it once a year and 54% do so no more than twice a year.* Instead of waiting a year between surveys, supplement with very short pulse surveys tailored to the individual’s role and type of interaction with your brand. Pulse surveys, or touchpoint surveys, dig deeper into specific points within the customer journey, and engage the organization in an ongoing manner, versus a single or one-time event.
Customers often provide their most important feedback during impromptu conversations. An executive who does not respond to a survey might outline concerns during a call with their account rep. Providing your employees a means of documenting learnings that occur outside of the survey process builds a holistic understanding of the relationship. The key is to maintain a comprehensive view across all feedback within a given account.
Routing Feedback to Drive Action
Most B2B companies have a level of account support. So it’s important to route feedback to those individuals who are closest to the customer and have direct responsibility for maintaining the relationship. Companies that do so enable their frontline teams to have visibility into customer concerns as they arise, proactively pre-empting smaller issues from growing into unrecoverable problems. Yet Medallia research found that only 53% of B2B companies that collect customer feedback share it with employees who are actually responsible for acting on specific customer issues or comments.*
However, feedback shouldn’t necessarily be sequestered to a single team or individual. For instance, feedback from a decision maker within a strategic account should reach a senior leader in your organization, which should prompt collaboration with the dedicated account manager to respond and resolve.
*Source: Medallia-commissioned survey of 375 mid to senior-level B2B professionals fielded online in October 2018.
Empower with Information
For most B2B companies, the goal is to retain and grow customer relationships in perpetuity. Not only is it important to understand your customer’s perspective on specific touchpoints, like invoicing as an example, but to also better understand and monitor account health over time. Once an organization is aligned on the definition of account health, it’s important to maintain an easily accessible record of historical feedback specific to each account relationship. This empowers employees to immediately respond to customers and conduct impactful and meaningful conversations, minimizing research time and effort.
- For Promoters, or customers who are extremely happy with the state of the relationship, reach out by phone, or send a personalized thank-you email. Access to historical feedback empowers employees with contextual understanding so they can potentially leverage the conversation to promote additional services or products.
- For Detractors, or customers who are highly dissatisfied, follow up within 24 to 48 hours — preferably by telephone or even better, in person. A live conversation will enable account reps to understand customer concerns more fully. In addition, insight into how the customer’s opinion of the relationship has improved or lessened over time will guide the conversation effectively, without asking the customer to re-explain past issues or problems.
- For Passive responders, or those who are simply neutral on the relationship, insight into historical feedback can guide reps on how to build out strategies to shift the partnership into high gear, converting those who are otherwise middle of the road into raving fans.
“A 360° view also enables leaders and managers to hold more effective conversations with their teams focused on areas of performance improvement, and reward and recognize CX superstars…”
360° View of B2B Accounts
Each piece of feedback you receive contributes to an overall picture of account health. To gain a 360° view of your B2B accounts, utilize an enterprise dashboard capable of showing aggregated feedback from all account contacts, inclusive of relationship and transactional surveys, historical responses, as well as any insight provided from employees like the assigned account manager.
Your teams are then better armed to address topics at the account level, like contract renewal negotiation. A 360° view also enables leaders and managers to hold more effective conversations with their teams focused on areas of performance improvement, and reward and recognize CX superstars who excel in both creating positive customer relationships and reaching financial goals and objectives.
Although it’s critically important to respond to and act on individual contact feedback, an overarching feedback model aligned to your organization’s account segmentation strategy helps you prioritize improvement areas with the most impact on both experience and financial performance.
B2B companies can be overwhelmingly complex and multifaceted. Focusing on these four areas will ensure a streamlined and consistent approach to continually improving and innovating on the voice of the B2B customer.
For more ways to boost B2B Customer Experience efforts and to see how other B2Bs are approaching CX, check out Medallia’s new research, “The State of Customer Experience in B2B.” Medallia surveyed 375 mid to senior-level US-based B2B professionals about whether and how their organizations collect and act on customer feedback. The results highlight a number of common weak spots that companies need to address in order to succeed.