Consultant’s blog: B2B survey specialists vs DIY customer surveys

May 2012

Customer survey tick

In the history of surveys, over the last 10 years we as consumers have been surveyed more than ever. The development and availability of IT and free online survey software like Survey Monkey, means that the average Joe can create their own online customer survey.

Many people think it's easy to become research experts - but is this really the case?

When you think about customer satisfaction surveys, most of us think about product surveys, measuring B2C (Business-to-Consumer) transactional relationships. These can be conducted in many ways and to differing ends of quality.

Last week, I received an online health product survey (three times mind you), a telephone call regarding utilities provision from a charming but inexperienced call centre operator (who was following a script that lacked options to record answers to her questions). Finally I encountered an enthusiastic and well intentioned, clip-board wielding overseas student, whom despite his best attempts, could not pronounce the questions soliciting my satisfaction with the public transport he was researching.

Why B2B research is so different

In the B2B manufacturing supply chain there are as many transactions with consumers as there are with other businesses.

Businesses as consumers and individual consumers have different needs and therefore require different approaches to a customer survey. This has an effect on:

  • how you will conduct the survey, be it online, via paper, telephone or other means
  • the tone of the communication with your customers e.g. with business customers it should be more formal than surveying end consumers where it may be more casual
  • if you wanted to provide an incentive and the type of incentive to encourage survey participation
  • timing of the customer survey

If people are asked to stop what they are doing to complete a customer survey it needs to be conducted in the most professional manner.

What not to do

Some of us actually want to give feedback, but it's frustrating to receive multiple invitations for the same survey, having our feedback dismissed because it's not on the script or even the inability of a researcher to pronounce your name. All this fails to adequately achieve research objectives while maintaining a good relationship with your customers and their view of your level of professionalism. Flawed research is more likely to damage your relationship with customers than ignoring your feedback by never undertaking the customer survey in the first place.

Why use a B2B research specialist for your customer survey?

A B2B research organisation needs to understand the importance and nuances of B2B relationships.

Insync Surveys only works in the B2B space where the client base is made up of other organisations with high value transactions. Our customer satisfaction surveys are run by experienced research experts to maximise the depth and richness of your customer survey findings. This is the level of expertise you should expect.

A checklist for selecting a B2B customer survey provider

[ ] Do they have experience in the B2B environment?

Do they have people on their research team who hold academic qualifications in psychology and understand the organisational dynamics of a corporate B2B environment? Or do they employ inexpensive students who have yet to encounter corporate life to run key customer survey projects?

[ ] Who will be dealing with your clients?

Will the research project managers who run your online customer satisfaction survey be part of the team conducting and supporting telephone or depth interviews? This facilitates sensitive research where the researcher has a real understanding of your audience, as opposed to relying on research findings emailed from offshore or low skilled busy call centres.

[ ] Do they understand the professional services environment?

Do they have a management team with experience and achievement in the professional services world?

[ ] Do they have high standards of professionalism and quality?

Do they have a passion for research and demand consistently high standards and professionalism of themselves and their fellow research experts?

[ ] Do they understand the sector they are researching?

It helps if those who are scoping your B2B customer survey have worked in a similar industry themselves. If a business director is a specialist in the finance and accounting sector for example, they can develop a more relevant customer satisfaction survey by leveraging industry knowledge to maximise research outcomes for these types of organisations.

[ ] Will you get an experienced researcher to present the results?

Having the research project manager who has worked closely with you throughout the customer survey project to present the results will give you the most value. Having understood your research goals and any concerns, they're able to interpret the survey data that is meaningful for you.

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