B2B Customer Surveys: 10 Mistakes to Avoid

BY TOM TABER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, VOC ABOUT TOM

Customer surveys are now a common management tool. It seems that everyone is surveying their customers. The problem is that most surveys leave much to be desired. They do little to improve a business and build better customer relationships.

Here are ten simple tips to improve the effectiveness of your next B2B customer survey.

Mistakes Companies Make with Their Customer Research:

  1. Over-surveying. Many companies over-survey. It is better to conduct one focused study and wait until you have had time to address the issues exposed by the research before you survey again. This typically means waiting at least a year to 18 months before conducting your next survey.
  2. Not focusing on top accounts. Who to interview? How many? These are the questions that plague all customer surveys. Rather than randomly sampling all of your customers, focus on your top accounts. These customers know you well and can offer some of the best insights to improve your business. Consider more contacts within those accounts to gain additional insight.
  3. Getting only quantitative data, not qualitative insights. Scores are fine, but insights are the key to driving improvements. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a quantitative figure, but you need a qualitative explanation of why you received that rating. Strive to understand the reasons behind the ratings in order to take smart actions to improve your results.
  4. Ignoring the competition. Many surveys focus on only your business without comparing your performance to competitors in the marketplace. Your company might be favorably rated, but if your competitor has a higher score, further improvement is a must in order to take share and win more business.
  5. Not thanking customers. You are doing the survey to improve relationships with your customers. Take the opportunity to personally follow-up and thank them for their feedback. Avoid a mass email – send a personal thank you letter or note.
  6. Taking no action after the survey. You have done an extensive survey that yielded great insights. Now commit the time to make changes. The list can be daunting, but all of the improvements do not need to happen at once. Start by addressing the top three. A focused approach will deliver quicker wins.
  7. Not sharing changes post-survey. Customers are happy to give feedback so long as you demonstrate that you’ve listened and taken action. Tell customers what you are doing with the information. Few companies take this step, and those that do, stand out to their customers.
  8. Not sharing feedback with employees. Many clients discuss survey results at an executive level but not with the broader organization. This is most common when results are critical, and management does not want to affect morale. In most cases, employees will actually embrace the feedback and realize their role in improving results.
  9. Not using NPS as a key performance indicator for your business. There’s a proven correlation between your NPS and top line revenue growth. Growth in NPS leads to business gains, such as winning new contracts, increase in wallet share and capturing new accounts.
  10. Not setting targets for improvement. Go one step further and establish specific goals for improvement. Remember the money is made when you move your score. That’s when you realize an ROI from the effort. Improvement targets should vary depending on your baseline result. For organizations with an average rating (15 to 30%), a 10 to 15 point increase in NPS should be attainable. Start small if necessary but target some level of improvement.

Taking the Next Steps with Your Customer Survey

You are making an investment in customer surveys. Take your surveying process to the next level. Strive to learn more and take more action with the results. By acting on these proven steps, you can enhance your customers’ experience and ensure retention and growth with your next customer survey.