Gathering and using B2B feedback

Posted in Customer relationship management.

Your customers are the best ambassadors for your company. If they are happy or unhappy with a product or service provided to them, they will influence how new or even existing customers view your company.

Studies have found that customers are more likely to purchase from a company that provides customer reviews and reviews are more trusted than descriptions of a product or service by the company itself.

Utilising customer feedback and reviews is thus infinitely important to increasing your sales and improving loyalty to the company.

B2B reviews don’t come naturally

People will more readily give reviews on restaurants and hotels than they would for B2B companies and there is also more places to give reviews. To garner B2B reviews you will have to ask for them and provide a place where people can easily write up their comments on a product or service.

Usually this will be done after a sale has been completed or a contract has been signed. Send a simple “thank you” email with a paragraph that asks for an honest review of their experience with your company and provide a link to an online area they can leave their review on (see the “Many ways of getting customer feedback” paragraph below for ideas on this online area).

Make the reviewing process as simple as possible for the customer as it must not take more time out of their day than is necessary.

Don’t be afraid to show the negative

Surprisingly enough, negative reviews are not always a bad thing for a company. If a product appears to be too perfect, customers are often likely to become suspicious of it. A negative review or complaint can give you a way to make amends publicly and show other customers how you fare in the face of adversity. Customers want to see every aspect of a product before buying it. A bad review here and there may make them decide that your negatives are better than some other company’s negatives.

If you receive a complaint, resolve it and then ask that customer to review how you dealt with the complaint. This is not only to make your reviews look good but it is also the way your business should be conducted in general.

Should you get many negative reviews or complaints, take it as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes. If you only see a bad review from a customer long after a sale has been completed, think about why you didn’t come to learn about this right after the sale. Was your follow-up process ineffective or non-existent, or did the customer not feel comfortable enough to be open with you? The more you learn the less negative reviews you will have to turn around.

Also, remember if you have negative reviews sporadically they will be neutralised if there are an overwhelming number of positive reviews.

Getting to the root of it

Knowing your audience is the best way to provide a product and service that promotes loyalty and satisfaction at all times. Reviews and the feedback one gets from these reviews, customer surveys and testimonials can be invaluable in getting to the root of what customers focus on, what they dislike, their expectations and so forth. Is your response time to emails too slow? Are your processes too old-fashioned? Is the way you handle customers incorrect? Do your customers feel undervalued or not given enough personal attention? The list of things you can find out just by reading reviews is endless.

Especially helpful is when the same issues crop up all the time from different people. If the same issues keep becoming a point of contention, then it is time to rethink your products or customer service processes.

Many ways of getting customer feedback

Customer feedback can be acquired through many different channels besides right after a sale has been made. For example, sending customer satisfaction surveys to existing customers. If the customer’s feedback is positive, ask them if they would like to participate in a case study for your website or fill in an online review. If they had negative feedback, use it as an opportunity to provide customer support for the issues they raised.

Newly acquired customers can be given a customer satisfaction survey a month after purchasing a new product or signing up for a new service. The sales reps themselves can perform the survey in order to create a more personalised experience. You can also add a non-intrusive review request at the bottom of newsletters or other email campaigns.

Add a feedback widget of some sort to your website. The following online sites can help you get reviews and feedback fast, and in a way that is easy for your customers as well:

*  Get Satisfaction ( Guides customers to an online destination where they can engage in community discussions between other customers and people from within your company.

*  OpinionLab ( Used by many of those on the Fortune 500 list and provides instruments for customers to give feedback via your website and through mobile devices.

*  UserEcho ( Collects customer responses and ideas via a website widget. Visitors to your site can create discussions, give ideas, comment and provide reviews.

*  Feedbackify ( A website widget that receives feedback from your customers and provides a live stream of these reviews. Can filter feedback according to the audience as well as various categories and subcategories.

*  IdeaScale ( Provides a Facebook app (only for iPhone users) that can be built into your company’s Facebook page. This type of feedback platform has more to do with what the customer thinks a company should be doing and the best ideas are promoted and brought to your attention. This way you can start thinking like the customer does.

Social media mingling

All of the ways above can and should be used if you’re interested in customer feedback. However, one thing you can start doing today can help you tremendously in communicating with customers and getting views on products or services. Simply become more active on social media.

Nowadays customers easily feel like you are not open and available to customers if you do not have some form of social media presence. You don’t need to become an online social butterfly all of a sudden but be reachable via social media channels. Give people the opportunity to choose the means with which they communicate with you. Simply because you are involved with B2B companies, doesn’t mean you need to follow only traditional routes.

The social media channel a customer chooses to use also has the potential to teach you something about their behaviour. Each site has a different energy, personality and audience – keep an eye on what your customers choose to use the most and determine what attracted them to that medium. It can tell you a lot about the kind of people you are catering for.

A site like Facebook provides an open platform for customers to give open and honest feedback. It also gives you an easy way to communicate back. Your communication with customers is seen publicly by all of the other customers communicating via Facebook and can be the type of experience that convinces them to use your company based on how you interact with others.