What Do I do with my Ambassadors?

Some time ago, we posted a blog called Help! What do I do with my Stalkers and Opponents? It was about the actions that account teams need to take with clients with whom they have very poor relationships. This blog is about the accounts with the best, strongest and deepest relationships. These are called Ambassadors.

Let’s start with a quick recap of the five B2B client categories that we use at Deep-Insight:
 

Customer Relationship Quality – the Strongest Relationships

The most loyal client category is the Ambassador segment. Ambassadors are your most valuable customers. They have a unique relationship with you and will recommend you to others. They are also prepared to pay a premium for your products or services – price is not an important consideration for them because of the quality of the relationship. Typically, a third of your clients are Ambassadors.

The next segment of clients are known as Rationals. They rate you positively but do not see anything unique in the relationship. Rationals will take their time to assess alternative sources of supply and the relationship can become unstable if good alternative offers exist. Typically, half of your key B2B accounts fit into this category. Generally they are good clients albeit not as loyal as Ambassadors.
 

The Weakest Relationships

But wait! That doesn’t add up to 100%. What’s the story with the others? Well, the answer is that in all B2B account portfolios, there are clients that don’t love you that much. We typically find that 10-20% of accounts have poorer relationships with you and fit into one of the following three categories:

Ambivalents often have a “love/hate” relationship with you. In some instances, they love the way you solve their problems but hate the way you treat them. More often, you are killing them with kindness but failing to solve their business issues.

Stalkers are often only interested in price. Sometimes they can be large corporate accounts looking for special offers and discounts. Other times, they are smaller accounts that view your services as poor value for money.

Opponents have the poorest relationships with you. They are deeply dissatisfied and often highly frustrated by what they see as consistently poor service.
 

Are ‘Ambassadors’ the same thing as ‘Promoters’?

If you use Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a performance metric, you’ll recognise the terms Promoters, Passives and Detractors.

Promoters are people who score you 9/10 or 10/10 when asked the question “Would you recommend [Company X] to a friend or colleague?” Passives score you 7 or 8. Detractors score you anywhere between 0 and 6.

Ambassadors are similar but here are the two crucial differences: First, an Ambassador is a company rather than an individual. Second, to become an Ambassador you have to get a good Net Promoter Score AND a good Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) score. CRQ is our methodology for assessing the quality of B2B relationships and it is based on Trust and Commitment as well as some other factors, rather than Advocacy which is what the NPS metric is based on.

Think of it this way. Suppose you ask 20 people in a Key Account what they think of their relationship with you and would they be prepared to recommend you and your product or service. If the account is an Ambassador, 12 of the 20 individuals might be Promoters, six might be Passives and two might be Detractors. The overall relationship is great but there are still a couple of individuals who are not prepared to recommend you, for whatever reason.

 

What do I do with my Ambassadors

For starters, here are three things that any account team should be thinking about when they have an Ambassador as a client:

1. Recognise their importance and don’t take them for granted

The very first thing is to recognise that Ambassadors are generally your most profitable clients, for a number of reasons:
– They are typically less price-sensitive because they see what you offer as being unique. They are generally willing to pay a premium for such uniqueness.
– Sales costs are lower. Even at contract renewal time, less effort is required to extend the contract or renegotiate a new one.
– There is less firefighting. Putting out fires can be expensive. Even when things go wrong, it’s generally easier to resolve operational issues with Ambassadors.

Don’t rest on your laurels and don’t treat Ambassadors as cash cows. You need to invest time into the relationship to keep it fresh and exciting. It’s often easy to get diverted to more problematic accounts where the shouting is the loudest. In our previous blog we talked about exiting client relationships that are unprofitable. Unless there is a clear path to recovery, it is often better to re-allocate those resources to Ambassador clients where there is far greater potential.
 

2. Ask them to recommend you

Remember that a high proportion of individuals in an Ambassador client are Promoters so they have already told you that they will recommend you. So take them up on the offer. Ask them for referrals. Those referrals could be the MDs of other divisions in the same company. They could be senior executives in other companies. Also ask them for testimonials or for case studies.
Trustmary is a Finnish company that helps clients do exactly that using Net Promoter Score as the key metric for identifying Ambassadors.

Don’t be afraid to ask Ambassadors to talk at your next industry event or to be a guest speaker at your next conference. They want to help you. So just do it.
 

3. Start innovating and co-creating

As the account manager for an Ambassador client, you are probably in the enviable position of being a Trusted Advisor. You have the ear of the key decision makers in that account and the opportunity to bring new ideas and propositions to the table. Use that opportunity. Think of possible joint developments that you can do in partnership with the client. As well as adding more value and revenues, your next product line or service could result from such innovation or co-creation.
 

The starting point for these decisions is an accurate and objective view of which category each of your major accounts fits into. Once you know that, you can start asking the right questions and taking the appropriate action. Contact us if you want to find out how many Ambassadors you have!
 
 

Deep-Insight takes to the High Seas

NEW CLIENTS ANNOUNCEMENT

We are delighted to announce two new clients at Deep-Insight. Both have a strong maritime feel.

Survitec


Survitec is a global leader in survival and safety solutions to the marine, defence, aviation and offshore markets.  It has over 3,000 employees worldwide, covering 8 manufacturing facilities, 15 offshore support centres and over 70 owned service stations. Survitec also has a network of over 500 third party service stations and distributors.

Across its 160-year history, Survitec Group has remained at the forefront of innovation, design and application engineering. It is the trusted name when it comes to critical safety and survival solutions. The new management team has made a commitment to focus the company around its customers.

In a recent interview for SAFETY4SEA, Survitec’s newly-appointed Managing Director for its Marine Division, Baba Devani explains how the world’s leading safety and survival partner is restructuring to become more customer-centric.

Port of Newcastle


Port of Newcastle is the largest port on the East Coast of Australia. As a global trade gateway for more than 220 years, the Port of Newcastle delivers safe, sustainable and efficient logistics solutions for its customers. It is also the largest coal exporting port in the world.

Port of Newcastle’s customers include coal producers in the Hunter Valley, non-coal traders including fuels, alumina, wheat, mineral concentrates and fertiliser manufacturers, as well as some of the world’s largest shipping lines.

The Port of Newcastle is at an early stage of development of a customer-centricity programme. Deep-Insight is delighted to be helping CEO Craig Carmody and his management team on that journey.

How to Maximise Completion Rates for a CX Programme?

B2B Customer Experience (CX) programmes are our bread and butter at Deep-Insight and we’re used to handling questions on how to make CX programmes more effective.

One of the questions we often get from first-time clients is: “What completion rates can I expect from my CX programme?” Another common question from longer-term clients is “How do I improve my completion rates?”

Let’s deal with each question in turn.

“What completion rates can I expect from my CX programme?”

Let me preface this by saying that we are talking about business-to-business (B2B) relationships so there is an inherent assumption in the question that our clients have some existing – and hopefully strong – relationships with their clients and that the contacts in the client organisation will be receptive to a request to give feedback as part of that ongoing relationship.

This is usually the case but clients – particularly senior clients – are busy people so it may not come as a surprise to hear that the average participation rate in a B2B customer assessment is around 35%.

But that 35% figure is an aggregate score and there’s a little more to it than that, if you have a look at the graph below.

completion rates CX Programme

It turns out that the most common completion rate is 26-30% but we have a smaller number of clients – typically clients who have been running our Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) assessments for many years – who regularly achieve completion rates of 50% and higher.

If this is your first time running a customer assessment – either a simple Net Promoter Score survey of something a little more complex like our CRQ relationship assessments – you can expect completion rates of less than 1 in 3.

This may sound OK if you regularly run consumer surveys where a 5% completion rate can be a good result, but for an existing long-standing B2B client relationship, it looks paltry. And yet we have been running customer assessments of all sorts for nearly 20 years and these are the actual numbers.

So now let’s get to the second question: “How do I improve my completion rates?”

“How do I improve my completion rates?”

The starting point is to understand why some B2B companies sometimes get low completion rates and others consistently exceed 50%.

Our lowest-ever completion rate (4%) came from a first-time UK software company where the quality of contact data was simply terrible – people who had left their companies three years earlier, people who had never even heard of our client, and so on. That’s because the Account Managers did not personally sign off the client contact names. You get the picture.

Our highest-ever completion rate came from a company that has been a client of Deep-Insight’s for 10 years and whose customers view the annual CRQ assessment as an important part of their ongoing strategic relationship with our client.

But there are other reasons for low and high participation rates – here’s a quick summary of the profiles of our clients that fit into both categories:

completion rates CX Programme

Try these 6 steps in order to improve your completion rates for a CX programme:

  1. Make It Strategic. If the CX programme is CEO-led and driven from the top, it will not be seen as another box-ticking exercise. Make sure this is a key item on the Executive agenda.
  2. Put in Governance Structures. By this we mean things like: a) Account Directors should supervise and sign all contact names, not just pull them from the CRM system; b) the Sales Director should personally sign off all Strategic Client contact names.
  3. Don’t call it a Survey! At Deep-Insight, we ban the use of the term “survey” . For us, a CRQ assessment is a strategic ongoing conversation with the clients and their views will be taken seriously.
  4. “Warm Up” the Contacts. An invitation to complete a survey should not come out of the blue. Ideally, it should be introduced by letter or by email by the CEO or Country Manager, and while an assessment is “live”, the account manager will know to stay in touch with the client and urge them to complete the assessment.
  5. Close the Loop. This is critical. If you ask for feedback, you need to share that feedback with the client, agree the actions that BOTH PARTIES will take to improve the relationship.
  6. Repeat. Get into a rhythm where your clients and your sales/account teams know that every February or October (or whenever), the annual strategic assessment will take place. You may want to run frequent assessments. Some companies have quarterly Net Promoter or Pulse assessments – but don’t overdo the frequency. Your organisation needs time to put remedial actions into effect.

If you are interested in reading more about running a CX programme effectively take a look at our process or contact us at sales@deep-insight.com.

 
Does NPS Work for B2B Companies