Customer feedback is a lifeline for your organization. With a clear line of sight into the evolving needs and expectations of your customers, you are better positioned to get ahead of the competition and build a strong reputation as a customer-centric organization.
But with different customer personas (decision-maker, end-user), should all customer feedback be considered equal?
I sat down with Steve Bernstein, CEO and Founder of Waypoint, and Evan Klein, Founder and President of Satrix Solutions, to discuss which customers should be invited to participate in your surveys and how do you prioritize feedback from your customer personas.
Watch the video or read the complete transcript below for their responses.
Steve, let’s talk about evaluating the strength of customer relationships in B2B.
On LinkedIn, you asked your network to weigh in on who they should solicit feedback from and whose opinion is most important, users or key stakeholders/decision-makers? What did you learn based on those comments? And what do you ultimately recommend?
That’s a really good question. Thanks, Heather.
The consensus from close to 100 people across a couple of different forums was that we can’t really prioritize one type or one persona over another. My question was, who is the customer? Is there really such a thing as a customer in B2B? And who are we talking about, what kind of persona when we refer to that word “customer”? The consensus was we have to focus on all the personas because there are so many different people that can influence the buying decision.
But my addition is, yes, it’s definitely important to understand the persona. In product-lead companies end-users are super important. In customer-led companies, a stakeholder engagement may be a little bit more important. I would say the first thing that you have to do is really understand what’s your company’s strategy. Who are some of the most important persona with regards to driving customer fueled growth or product fueled growth within that strategy? But then you also need a scalable way of engaging all those contacts regardless of your strategy, you need a scalable way of doing that.
A couple of tricks, and Evan, I’d love your thoughts on this, one of the things that we found to be really powerful in getting customer feedback from the right people, and keeping the contact list up to date, is to go ask your champion. You can say, “Your success is critical, it’s my job. I need to make sure that you’re happy and successful. I also need to make sure that you know everybody who is in a position to influence or evaluate the relationship between our two companies, we need to make sure that they’re happy too. And as our day-to-day working contact, I know you want their feedback also. You want to know what the whole community inside your company is thinking and feeling, what’s working and not working. So, what I’d like to do is work with you to come up with the right contacts and help me get them to respond. Then, we’ll work together on a joint success plan for how we’re going to effectively address this.”
When you can do that effectively to engage your champion, you really can drive not just good insight into what’s working or not working but that engagement that you’ve started a conversation with a lot of different people and you want them to participate. And the best way that they will participate is by having the champion ask them to participate. They’ll do it. They’ll opt-in, they’ll give you the feedback. Evan, what’s your take on all this?
I have to say you clearly hit on something that a lot of people are interested in with that LinkedIn post because you had a very high level of engagement. I thought that in and of itself is an important takeaway. A lot of folks are thinking about this, who do I invite to participate and whose opinions are important? I think what you said resonates because we’ve told our clients from day one, if you have contacts that have enough of an informed opinion, then they should be asked to provide feedback, they should be invited to share their thoughts and feelings. And that includes decision-makers or key stakeholders, like you said, champions, users, influencers. We advocate going out to all of those folks who have meaningful enough interaction.
It’s interesting to me also, sometimes, you get companies who say, “well, these are the folks that are important to me, these folks maybe a little less so let’s carve them out.” And my response is the junior contact of today could be a senior stakeholder of tomorrow. Someone who is maybe a mid-level user could become the champion either at that company or a future company. So, let’s engage them now, and let’s demonstrate our commitment to listening and to driving change based on that feedback. Let’s not carve anybody out, unless they don’t have a meaningful enough interaction or exposure to your offering. In that case, certainly, you want to set them aside.
But let’s think about the contact list in aggregate. Then you can do whatever slicing and dicing and segmentation you want on the back end, after you have it. One of the things, Steve that we see, sometimes it’s very interesting, and probably not surprising to you is that sometimes the champion perspective or sentiment is vastly different than the user.
Right. We see that all the time.
Yeah, which is really interesting. It’s not necessarily that the users are happier and the champion is dissatisfied, or that the champion is thrilled and the users are dissatisfied. It’s sort of case by case. So knowing that, understanding that, and getting to the heart of why that’s the case, and then taking action is obviously of great importance.
I completely agree on the ability to slice and dice by persona. We use this phrase we call an “Orpple” – the combined apple plus orange, which doesn’t exist in the natural world and it shouldn’t really exist in the software world either. So the NPS, for your combined decision-makers and end-users across tier one, tier two, tier three account doesn’t make sense. So avoid the “Orpples”.
The other thing you referenced was the change or improvements, so make sure that you set this up as a tracking study looking at the same contacts and accounts over time. Waypoint Topbox obviously does this. You can do this through a variety of mechanisms, including Salesforce, to make sure that you’re trending those same accounts and contacts because you really want to understand that change. Are we trending in the right direction? So, deep and wide relationships will definitely allow you to catch those issues before they fester.
Yeah, this is a little bit off topic but the one thing I’ll share as a final comment is that the derivation of your Net Promoter Score or any other key performance indicator isn’t always from counting every contact the same. You don’t necessarily just look at all of the responses from your users, influencers, and decision-makers and consider them all equal. There are different methodologies and sometimes there are approaches that maybe don’t overweight or skew an account because they just happen to have more respondents from them compared to another account.
So, we’re getting a little bit into the weeds but I will plug a blog that we wrote about the different methodologies to derive your Net Promoter Score and be thoughtful about not biasing or skewing the data because a lot of the times there are a lot more users responding and you just don’t want to count them the same as the decision-makers and influencers.
Additional Resources for Your CX Programs
For more information on this topic, read related posts from Satrix Solutions and Waypoint:
- 3 Methods to calculate your Net Promoter Score in B2B companies
- Are you making this critical connection with your customers to strengthen relationships and drive loyalty?