This week’s guest blog comes from Dalia Naamani-Goldman of the Customer Contact Council, a sister program of the Board serving heads of customer contact.
There is something about a business-to-business relationship that enables companies to be very direct and surprisingly honest and candid with customers.
Forget beating around the bush with “How well are we doing as a company serving and supporting your needs?” It is not uncommon to ask on a B2B relationship survey about customers’ thoughts of their experience with your company, but also perceptions of how your company stacks up to others. Some B2B organizations even go so far as to directly ask for examples where service delivery fell short of expectations.
It is clear that the major revenue at stake in a B2B relationship drives a higher level of accountability and transparency, but it is curious that in today’s increasingly competitive environment that B2C service organizations are not similarly direct in seeking customer input.
B2C customer experience surveys typically ask a variety of CSAT and loyalty questions, but they primarily focus on the positive, of what’s working well. “How well did we exceed your expectations?” and “How satisfied are you?” are common customer experience survey questions we see, for example. Rarely, however, do B2C surveys get at “What went wrong?” or put another way, “Where did we fail?”
Of course no need to proactively offer mea culpa or call full attention to what went wrong. The key is to embrace the idea of focusing on what went wrong in the customer interaction. And then of course to fix it.
One of the smartest and simplest approaches to this we have seen is just modifying customer experience survey questions to focus on failure points. Two sample questions that come from technical support organizations include (CCC Members, to see the full example, click here):
“If you weren’t able to obtain the help you were seeking, please explain why.”
“If your problem was not resolved, what will you do next?”
Both questions get at where service and support failed but in a productive, helpful way without creating a negative customer sentiment. And both are in line with the B2B lesson that organizations can be more forthright in seeking customer insights without negatively impacting customer relationships.
Have any companies experimented with being more assertive and direct in seeking customer feedback? What have you tried, and what have you learned?
Related Member Resources:
- Driving Action with NPS® and Other Loyalty Metrics
- Conducting Customer Loyalty, Satisfaction, and Profitability Research