By: Oliver Skeide
Research agencies typically differentiate between business-to-business and business-to-consumer sectors. Why? B2B specialists tend to be the ugly ducklings that represent a relatively small portion of the overall business. Moreover, market research and CEM in consumer markets is supposed to be more developed and professional as well as more advanced in terms of methods and techniques.
Obviously, there is a perception that the b2b space has to be treated totally different than the consumers’ world. And in fact, there are a couple of exceptions when investigating the customer experience of corporate customers. We all know that companies act and decide differently compared to private households. Companies have a clear hierarchy and dedicated roles for each job. Mmmmh … on second thought maybe they’re not so different. But big enterprises are much larger and more complex entities, so understanding internal processes and identifying the right contacts may be more challenging. And of course dealing with producer durable goods like machinery or medical devices has some implication for feedback processes, manufacturer touch points and customer issues that are pretty different from the worlds of food, clothes or home entertainment.
But a professional customer is at the same time a private consumer. All customers are – guess what – human beings and “work” according to similar rules and principles. So when talking about customer care and service quality the game works quite the same. This means that a lot of consumer behavior knowledge can be transferred to the b2b environment.
A recent Maritz poll amongst larger industrial companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland confirms another observation. When changing the perspective and focusing on corporate insight teams that manage customer surveys, we also see much of the same that is apparent with manufacturers of consumer goods. This begins with data collection methods. Web based interviews play a dominant role as does perceived success factors of customer satisfaction programs and the challenges these managers are sometimes struggling with. Selecting the right tools and metrics is usually done with great confidence. Also, operational excellence in running a program is a commodity that doesn’t keep anybody awake at night. The challenge is more to understand what the feedback means and what the priorities for improvement are. To effectively act upon the insights gained, to connect the customer voice with operational processes and to link satisfaction data with financial success. This is the moment of truth: achieving a performance improvement and generating a ROI of any feedback system. And this is exactly where the pain points of many companies are – irrespective whether they are operating in a business-to-business or business-to-consumer sector.