5 Things Your B2B Customers Want You to Know

Date: June 1, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on 5 Things Your B2B Customers Want You to Know

After hundreds of in-depth studies over several years around business to business relationships in all sizes of companies, IQS

Business-center

Research has extensive understanding about what constitutes successful B2B relationships, which ensures your business keeps its clients for a good long time. Here are the five things to keep in mind when evaluating and prioritizing your relationships with your business customers and vendors.

  1. Relationship is important. Although they don’t have to be friendships, per se, business and vendor relationships can and should be “friendly.” They want to know that you understand their needs, that you take a vested interest in them, and that they can count on you. They greatly value the thought that you’ll be there for them or when you recognize their voices when you talk on the phone.
  2. Your performance impacts their reputation. This is a big one. If a marketing manager asks you to design and print her company’s brochures for an important campaign, and they’re not done in time or they look awful, that will greatly impact his reputation with his customers, possibly making him look incompetent or unreliable. His reputation is damaged because of your performance. On the flip side, you can also make her shine, which is one of the goals of a good B2B relationship.
  3. Know what’s important to them. Details matter, and to know that their needs are first and foremost in your mind reduces stress and heightens confidence. Always making sure the details are covered, even as simple as making sure office furniture is delivered without scratches and that their floors are protected when you deliver speaks volumes to how valuable you think they are.
  4. They appreciate proactiveness. B2B customers want to be understood, and they want you to be proactive around that understanding. It’s not enough you just know who they are and what they do. When you know, for example, that an event is coming up and you can make suggestions to make it go more smoothly, even if it does not benefit you directly will make them more confident in your relationship. They want to know you’ve got their back.
  5. The B2B relationship should last a lifetime. This type of relationship tends to be based on loyalty. Because of this, you don’t want your customers to think in terms of getting a transaction completed, and you moving on to the next job, forgetting all about them. B2B relationships are longer term, more stable, and relationship-based and need to go both ways with flexibility and consideration.
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Market Research-Defining Customer Wants, Needs, and Desires Through the Kano Model

Date: May 22, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on Market Research-Defining Customer Wants, Needs, and Desires Through the Kano Model

Customer satisfaction…the pinnacle of all business goals. Market research shows when customers are satisfied or even delighted, then you can bank on return business and word-of-mouth recommendations.

The Kano Model is a way to measure customer satisfaction from a scientific perspective, because it puts customers’ expectations into an understandable model that can help you understand what is truly making a difference. It’s an effective market research model.

The Kano Model comprises three basic tenets: Basic Features, Performance Features, and Delight Features.

The Basic Feature concept includes items where if you do something absolutely perfectly, you impart no satisfaction into the equation, you don’t make people happy, and you get no customer satisfaction “credit” for it…but if you do something even slightly imperfectly, then you make your customers very unhappy..

For example, if someone orders an unsweetened ice tea in your restaurant, and that’s exactly what the person gets, then you get no benefit from it. They expected iced tea, they got iced tea. There is very little opportunity to delight the customer in this interaction. But if the tea is sour, or she gets sweetened tea instead, or maybe it’s warm…then that imparts significant dissatisfaction.

Next are the Performance Features, which are wholly linear. The better you do something, the more the satisfaction you earn; the worse you do or provide, the more dissatisfaction occurs. Most things you think of fall onto this type of analysis.

Back to the restaurant example, if the customer expects the risotto to be good, and it is, fine. But if it’s really good, then satisfaction increases. And if it’s horrible and nearly crunchy, then dissatisfaction dominates. Or if portion size is bigger than the customer expects, then you get points; if it’s tiny, you lose points. It’s pretty simple: do something well, satisfaction goes up, do something poorly, it goes down when you have a performance feature.

Delight Features are the coolest ones. These are less common and fleeting. They can’t count against you but have the potential to greatly benefit your business. There aren’t a lot of Delight Features, and they can quickly become Basic Features because when you overuse them or competitors take on the idea, which doesn’t add satisfaction.

A good example of a Delight Feature is a free dessert at a restaurant. Even if the customer didn’t really want a dessert, he’s delighted that it’s being offered, and even if it’s not the dessert the customer wanted, you still get bonus satisfaction points for surprising the customer (surprise has to be a factor in a Delight Feature). When you provide a Delight Feature, even if you do it incorrectly, you get credit for trying, and you impart satisfaction.

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Is Voice of the Customer the Same Thing as the Customers’ Voice?

Date: April 24, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on Is Voice of the Customer the Same Thing as the Customers’ Voice?

Here is a question: is the Voice of the Customer the same thing as the customers’ voice?

Absolutely not.

The Voice of the Customer is a specific research industry phrase that refers to a formal customer feedback program that systematically gathers feedback from a company’s customers. Most large and medium sized companies have these in place to one degree or another.

It’s a scheduled, defined process that seeks out input from customersor a scientifically based sampling of customers. And given that this is a random sampling process (meaning scientifically random, not just arbitrary), the companies are surveying a variety of types of customers.

Customer feedback needn't be a questionnaire...

They will get everything from those who are apathetic to super pleased to those ready to leave, which provides for more honest, well-rounded, accurate responses that will benefit the company immensely in deciding what kinds of changes need to be put into place to keep customers satisfied and referring.

A big point of misunderstanding that comes up when discussing Voice of the Customer programs is that often managers and business owners will say, “Why do I need some scientific study? I listen to my customers, and believe me, if they’re unhappy, they let us know!”

There is a deep-seated fallacy in this line of thinking.

For one, customer voice or customer complaint is not the same thing as a Voice of the Customer study. Not that listening to and fixing customers issues with your company is a bad idea; quite the contrary, you need to listen when a customer approaches you. But it will never garner the deeper, truly affecting information that you need to know. Mainly because of one axiom…when you have one customer who complains to you, you can guarantee there are exponentially more who feel the same way who don’t complain and perhaps just leave.  Also complaining customers typically represent only one type of all of the customers you serve.

Responding to complaints, while needed, isn’t reflective of the true silhouette of the problems your company might be having. You might have a couple of customers who live to complain and will complain no matter what the situation. Their complaints represent nothing except perhaps a deeper problem that needs to be addressed within those customers. But the cold fact is that most people or customers don’t complain at all; they just head to a competitor, and you’ll never know.

The beauty of a Voice of the Customer study or program is that it’s not a one-off hit-or-miss complaint department activity. It’s systematic, executed process that will unearth what really needs your attention in your company’s relationship with its customers.

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