There’s a new trend that’s attacking our inboxes – every time we buy something as a consumer, we tend to get an immediate ‘how did we do?’ email. The world of Business to Consumer(B2C) has mastered the art of real-time feedback – they value the point in time thumbs up/thumbs down and value your opinion as to where they can do better next time.
Moving over to the world of Business to Business (B2B),things are significantly different. For some reason, far too many companies are stuck in a time-warp…they produce annual surveys (often led by marketing), where results are collated and discussed at an executive level and rarely make it down to the field or to people who can make a true difference.
These once a year surveys are fraught with danger and flaws…too often, people just don’t answer or respond or when they do it’s negative based on a recent poor experience they’ve had – after all, who really can remember how they truly engaged with you 8 months ago, and worst still…why do they care!
B2B organizations can make a change, whether it’s weaving it into their Customer Experience (CX) programs or simply part of their sales organisation, there’s no reason why they don’t send a brief survey in real-time to understand how the sales organization engaged with them, was the messaging correct, did they listen, and did they feel as if they were valued.
I recently asked a VP of Sales in America why they are reluctant to move to real-time surveys…initially the defences came up ‘oh we can’t do that, it’s marketing and they run an annual survey’ – when I challenged her as to whether the survey actually made a difference or the results made it down to the regional sales and support teams, she shuffled in her seat with awkwardness coming over her. We got to the heart of the matter really quickly…many in her organization felt that the annual survey results were a executive privilege and that not everyone in the organization really needs to hear the bad news and we can easily justify why it’s bad. Worst still, she confessed that sometimes they just don’t want to know what the customer really thinks as it can be damming or reinforce their own internal challenges which they’re well aware of but just can’t change. Effectively, I concluded…the survey is waste of time then, except for a few headline stats and comments that can be proudly demonstrated to the executive teams and board.
Fast forward to something can be easily implemented, if your mindset allows it – when a product is delivered, a service implemented or a solution put into production, there’s absolutely no reason (except your own limiting beliefs) as to why a short 5 question survey can’t be sent out to ALL the key customer decision makers and project team – establishing how easy were you to work with, did they feel as if you listened, worked collaboratively and what the areas of improvement could be as well as areas which made you standout against competitors. Real-time surveys are always best for ‘point in time’ results, which people remember and feel as if they want to share – feeding these results real-time into the sales, services, support teams will drive individual awareness, skills development and conscious thinking about the next engagement and project…above all, it will help your customers feel listed to and as if they have contributed to your learnings as an organization.
We challenge you with two questions to drive dramatic customer experience change: ‘how can you do real-time B2B customer feedback and what would you do with it?’