Feedback in a B2B environment

November 1, 2021

For many businesses, the ability to collect feedback from customers, whether in a B2B or B2C environment, is vital to ensure continued innovation and high levels of customer satisfaction are met. For almost two decades, Net Promoter Score (NPS) has been the ‘go-to’ metric for feedback from purchasers of a business’s services. However, the key issue with NPS, according to the CEO of DMR Michalis Michael writing in Information Age last month, is that despite attempting to condense KPIs into an actionable score, NPS is a very poor predictor of customer loyalty and customer satisfaction.

So why is NPS not suitable, especially for B2B feedback?

Intention, not behavior

At its heart NPS is about understanding satisfaction with the service received, asking how likely someone is to recommend the business to friends or family. Writing in Forbes, Ron Shevlin outlines the key problem is twofold. It does not explain why a customer would recommend a firm, and it also only gives an account of someone’s intention, not their actual behaviour. Christina Stahlkopf, associate director of analytics at C Space, argues it is too broad a measure, comparing it to a compass that only points you in the right direction; this is useful, but more often than not you need a more detailed map to navigate an uncertain landscape.

Why isn’t this suitable?

Questions around feedback in a B2B environment have been asked for a number of years, but the Coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact. Kris Rudeegraap argues that since March 2020, the majority of B2B revenue leaders have seen their engagement strategies take a more human approach, with customers growing accustomed to a more personalized digital experience. Maintaining this experience requires good communication, and B2B clients in general desire to be more informed and included than B2C clients, writes Jenna Bunnell in Customer Think.

NPS is not conducive to clients being able to provide more detailed feedback or feel more involved. As such, to satisfy the need for clients to feel involved, Bunnell argues that incorporating feedback into your management systems is advantageous as making changes based on feedback received from clients lets the client know you are listening.

What kind of approach?

Scott Stiner, CEO and President of UM Technologies feels that companies, as part of collecting and quantifying feedback (which is essential to being successful), need to decide whether to target one aspect or multiple aspects of the business with the feedback. There are also a number of approaches businesses can take to collecting the feedback, including surveys, direct client contact or trying to use analytics to figure out where problems exist and try to fix them without even asking for feedback.

Jon Nowell, the Director of Small Business and Fibre at TalkTalk Business, argues that the methods, channels and platforms of engaging with clients are constantly evolving. The key is to put the analytics tools in place to understand the behaviors, wants and needs of the client. This enables you to either pre-empt and resolve issues before they happen, or ensure they know where they can direct feedback if needed, such as an internal survey or a trusted third party such as Trustpilot which can be monitored.

Ultimately, the evolving nature of modern business requires a new approach to B2B feedback. Now that supply chains are more global and more complex, says Christian Titze, companies need to be able to quickly reach out and interact with suppliers and partners.