Retailers and consumer service companies have many options for collecting customer feedback. By contrast, businesses that offer services to other businesses (B2B) are a vastly underserved segment of the customer feedback marketplace. A managed services company that maintains enterprise computer or telecom networks is an example of a B2B company that needs to collect customer feedback.
For the managed services company, the customer–vendor relationship is not transactional. Rather, the vendor knows the customer and the relationship stretches over time. Customer satisfaction over this time has paramount influence on customer retention. So, at several times during the project, it makes sense that the vendor obtains customer feedback.
B2B service customers will complain only if there is a serious problem. But the customer will note minor lapses in the performance of your team. If such lapses are frequent, customers will start shopping around for another vendor. The vendor may well have lost a customer long before they realize it’s a possibility. By then, it’s too late.
If you think that customer satisfaction surveys is the solution, think again. Customer satisfaction surveys are normally done at the end of an engagement. Response rates tend to be low. You may not get a response from the unhappy customer. If you do, the survey may not provide feedback you really need from the disaffected customer.
As a B2B service provider, what are your options?
Starting from the best:
1. Send a feedback request via email
In this option, you are in full control of all key aspects of the feedback cycle. These are: the timing of the request, the personalization, the topic of the feedback, and the feedback format .
The timing of the request is important because you can tie the request to specific events. Important customer touchpoints for requesting feedback could include presenting an assessment report or completing a work order. Choosing events in your workflow provides consistent integration points for quality control processes.
Personalization enhances the chances that the customer will respond to the request right away. Your name in the request enhances the customer experience because it is familiar to them. So does addressing the customer by name.
It makes it easier for the customer if you request feedback on a specific topic. You also benefit because the feedback will provide a finer grained view of your customer’s experience.
This is key to making your service customer-centric. The changes that you make in your process flow are in response to customer feedback.
Finally, the format of the response is critical. To ensure minimal effort, the customer’s response should not require more than 10 mouse clicks to complete. It is thus critical to use a tool whose feedback form is simple and quick to complete . The feedback form’s design should support the quantitative evaluation of the feedback.
2. Append a link to your email signature
The next best technique of getting feedback is an indirect request.
This involves including a link to a feedback form in your email signature. Thus, any email from you to the customer is an opportunity to provide feedback.
The email may refer to a specific topic for the feedback or it may not. You have control over the personalization, topic, and the format of the feedback. Only the timing of the customer’s feedback response is not under your control.
3. Tell your client that they should feel free to give feedback
The customer can also provide unsolicited feedback on their own. It should be easy for the customer to do this. Feedback forms should be accessible from your web site and in marketing material.
The feedback forms can use the same format as the feedback request. Some modifications of the form may be necessary, such as the absence of a requestor’s name.
In this technique, feedback cannot be as topic specific as feedback by request.
There is no vendor control over the timing of the feedback. So this technique cannot be part of any repeatable internal process.
Yet the advantage of this technique is that the feedback mechanism can be ubiquitous. This can result in a large harvest of responses with little effort on the part of the vendor.
4. Scour social media
You can harvest feedback and comments posted on social media by customers to collect feedback. This task can often be outsourced to third party providers. The third party makes it available as a newsfeed to the vendor.
This technique is often used by vendors who offer transactional goods or services. They have a large consumer base and that results in social media postings about the vendor.
For B2B services this is not a good option. Their customers rarely provide feedback about a particular service on social media.
5. Make a phone call
Telephone conversations are not conducive for a precise description of the customer experience. Besides there is the possibility of playing telephone tag and annoying the customer,
Moreover, their feedback is not recorded and so cannot be reviewed within the company.
The purpose of customer feedback
The purpose of feedback is to enhance customer satisfaction and improve customer retention rates. So feedback from a customer needs a direct response. This is possible because you know your customer.
So if you are a B2B service company, get timely actionable customer feedback. For more information about micro-feedback and how you can collect it consistently and track your customers’ sentiment during an engagement, visit www.reputada.com.