The intersection of sales, product or service marketing and its operational execution is usually incredibly complex in the B2B world. It is not static, often morphing multiple times even in a single sales cycle or customer relationship. Successful navigation requires seeing through your client’s eyes. I often ask myself, why do many CEOs and executives (sales executives excluded) shy away from engaging directly with customers to learn about their experience, whether first hand or from enterprise feedback mechanisms?
There is no better leader for an organization to follow than the collective voices of their customers. Time and time again, I see where simply following their direction can open up entirely new service or product offerings that drive share of wallet, can increase customer profitability and loyalty, and potentially block an encroaching competitor. And it costs 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one, according to Bain & Company.
To drive growth—especially in the services sector—it is critical for organizations to add new logos, but equally important to build their revenues by retaining and growing their current client base. These relationships are managed by account managers and sales reps, who are often the people least equipped to incorporate feedback into product or service strategy. When deals are lost, management is routinely told that it was price related. According to global sales transformation specialists at Beacon Worldwide, experience shows that in reality, across North America, less than 15% of all deals come back to price. In fact, the number one reason cited for switching vendors in IDC’s 2012 Buyer Behavior study, was lack of follow up by the sales rep. This underscores the importance of introducing other mechanisms and processes for monitoring customer satisfaction and establishing relationships beyond the sales representative or account manager.
Measuring results and taking action makes good business sense. According to ConfirmIT, a firm delivering Voice of the Customer Solutions, positive customer experiences are not just nice to have. They can have a direct impact on the success of your business. Promoters of your organization spend around 50% more than detractors and are 20 times more likely to recommend your products or services to others. So, the question becomes: What can I do?
Many customer support tools now include customer feedback survey options for every ticket being closed. Including this module gives your customers an on-demand way to give you instant feedback on your service and the key areas that demand further investigation.
Share the facts: Sharing independently measured customer satisfaction data with your clients helps account managers and customers stay aligned and focused on the facts. This prevents getting progress derailed by the most vociferous complainer, the one whose voice can often be out of proportion to their issue and can potentially taint the whole relationship. If you offer your clients a portal, why not post their customer satisfaction data for them to view, sort or download data to perform their own reporting for their executive team?
Actionable data is key. If you don’t know what your customer experience is like, how can you improve it? If you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t be able to find the right solutions. Customer feedback and internal communication will improve your company’s functioning in the short-run but will vastly improve your reputation in the long-run, as well.
For more information on this topic, download the eBook “The Growth Companies Guide to Gathering Customer Feedback” and the blog by Charles Born discussing how customer complaints should lead to change.