Why are Trust and Commitment so Important in B2B?

Trust and Commitment

 
The following words are from two American academics Rob Morgan and Shelby Hunt. We’ll come to these guys shortly.

——————————————————

 

“Commitment and trust, rather than (or at least in addition to) power and dependence, are now central to discussions of business relationships.
Researchers and practitioners have come to view most interactions between business parties as events that occur over the course of a relationship between two or more partners.”

 

——————————————————

 
The funny thing about business-to-business (B2B) is that it’s less about business and more about relationships. In fact, B2B is really P2P: person-to-person. People buy from people. In large organisations, the decision to go with one particular service provider over another is often down to the answer to one simple question: “Do I really want to work with this person?”

The answer to that question is usually based on the perception of whether the individual can be trusted or not. Without trust, there can be no commitment.
 
 
Does NPS Work for B2B Companies
 
 

I thought companies bought mainly on price?

Large business contracts are often put out to tender. Companies will often produce a clear set of evaluation criteria to help guide the choice of service provider. Price is always one of the evaluation metrics. Even so, the final decision is often made on softer and unwritten criteria. Few decisions are made solely on the basis of price. Often, they are made on a combination of price and solution/ functionality. But when it comes to making the final choice to award any contract, subtle psychological elements come into play.

“OK, I know these guys seem to have the [INSERT: ‘best product’, ‘lowest price’, ‘most innovative solution’]. But what if it all goes wrong? Will they sort out the issues or will they leave me in the lurch? Will I lose my job?”

Fundamentally, we like to buy from people we think are honest, who treat us fairly and who act with integrity. In other words, we buy from people we trust. Price is generally a secondary consideration. It can’t be ignored but rarely is it the most important factor in the decision-making.
 

Morgan and Hunt

Two American academics figured this out a long time ago. In 1994, Rob Morgan and Shelby Hunt wrote a seminal paper on what really drives a long-term relationship between two business partners.

The Commitment-Trust Theory
 

The Commitment-Trust Theory of Relationship Marketing quickly became a hit, not just in academic circles, but among senior business executives who were trying to identify why people were likely to do business with you.

Morgan and Hunt realised that long-term business relationships are built on a mutual and cooperative working relationship between two partner firms. Focus on Trust and Commitment if you want to foster and nurture such relationships. That’s why we built these key metrics into the heart of our Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) methodology.

Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ)

Deep-Insight’s CRQ model works on three levels. Let’s take a quick look at each level. From the bottom up:
 

The Relationship Level

Trust and Commitment are the most important building blocks for a good relationship but don’t ignore Satisfaction. This is simply a measure of whether the customer’s expectations have been met or exceeded. Satisfaction is quite transactional. Customers can be happy one day and deeply unhappy the next, if they experience a problem. If the problem is solved, satisfaction levels increase quickly.
 

The Uniqueness Level

Experience is a measure of how easy you are to do business with and if you are seen as a trusted partner. You can have the best products or services in the world but if your clients can’t work with you and don’t see your people as trusted partners, you will not be seen as ‘Unique’. Deep-Insight defines Solution as a combination of Innovation, Leading Edge and Value-For-Money. These are three related but slightly different concepts but if you score well on all three, you have an offering that can help your clients compete in the marketplace in a way that none of your competitors can do. When we talk about ‘Solution’ we’re not just talking ‘Product’. It’s as much about how the account managers, sales and delivery teams position your company’s product or service, as it is about the product or service itself.
 

The Service Level

Service covers three separate elements: Reliability, Responsiveness and Customer Care. Reliability measures whether or not you do what you say you do. Do you walk the talk? Do you do what you promise? Essentially, can your clients rely on you (and the ‘you’ refers to both the brand and the individuals working with the client). Responsiveness measures whether or not you react quickly to issues that arise. Better, still, are you proactive in anticipating customers’ needs or issues. Customer Care is all about making the customer feel valued.
 

Are you interested in building Trust and Commitment with your key clients? Would you like to find out more about our Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) model? If the answer to either question is yes, contact us today.
 
 
 
Image Credit: Career Employer

Deep-Insight seen as ‘Unique’ in 2019 CRQ assessment

Our 2019 Customer Relationship Quality Results

A big Thank You to all of our clients and channel partners who completed our CRQ assessment this year! It provided us with a wealth of feedback. We are humbled that you have given us such positive scores and we are thrilled with both the overall results and the detailed responses that we received.

In summary: we had an overall completion rate of 49%, a CRQ score of 6.0 and a Net Promoter score of +53%. This is the strongest set of scores that we have ever received.
CRQ and NPS CRQ assessment

Regaining our Unique Status

Our scores this year mean that we are now back into ‘Unique’ territory, which we just missed out on last year. Uniqueness requires a combination of a winning ‘Solution’ and a great ‘Experience’. Last year, our ‘Solution’ scores had slipped and over the past 12 months we have been working hard to regain this ‘Unique’ status. It’s very gratifying to see all of our hard work paying off.

Unique Solution and Unique Experience CRQ assessment

Deep-Dive: New and Improved

We have reflected a bit on last year’s journey for Deep-Insight and why we regained our Unique status. As a result of your feedback last year, we took your comments on board and put together a plan to upgrade our Deep-Dive platform. As a result, we have recently rolled out Deep-Dive v1.1 which is faster, has more features and allows our clients to access individual account reports at a click of a button. The work that the development team put into Deep-Dive has paid off as we have seen our ‘Solution’ scores increase from 4.9 to 5.7 this year and we have already received some very positive feedback regarding our upgraded Deep-Dive platform.

Our Plans for 2019?

Even though we received an amazing set of scores this year and we are thrilled with the results, that does not mean we will take a break. We have put our heads together and came up with the following action points for the upcoming months.

No. 1 – Share Results with All Clients – and Create Joint Action PLans

We tell our clients to share their results with their customers as this is a very effective way of building strong relationships. In the past we have sometimes been guilty of not taking our own advice but this year we plan on doing exactly that with all of our clients. Expect us to reach out to you in the very near future so that we can review your feedback together and see how Deep-Insight can be more effective this year at helping you achieve your 2019 objectives.

No. 2 – More Support with Account Management 

This year we asked you to what you use our services for. The answer? You use Deep-Insight and primarily as an Account Management/ Customer Retention tool, followed closely by Customer Experience feedback.

Customer Portfolio CRQ assessment
The message for us at Deep-Insight is that we need to spend more time with our clients at the start of any assessment to understand how you segment your client base, how you allocate account managers and service teams to those accounts, and how we can help you get more account-based insights from using the Deep-Dive platform. We also need to be more supportive in helping you use the results to manage those accounts more effectively. This is one area we would specifically like to explore with each of you in the coming weeks.

No. 3 – Aim for a Higher Response Rate in 2020

This is more of an internal action for us at Deep-Insight. A 49% response rate is not bad but we know that some of you set targets of 60% or higher, and you achieve them. We will be aiming for a 60% completion rate in 2020. We always advise our clients to work with their account teams to achieve the highest response rate possible, so for next year we will definitely put a stronger focus on this for ourselves as well.
Thank you again for your time and input into this year’s customer assessment. We will be in touch shortly.

John O’Connor

Your Views on Deep-Insight

In January, we asked you what you thought of your relationship with Deep-Insight so let me start by saying THANK YOU to everybody who completed our own Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) assessment.

Two years ago we had a CRQ score of 5.7 and a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of +37%. Our clients across Europe and in Australia told us that they saw us as “Unique” and that our solution was essential to their business.

I was delighted by these customer scores and more than a little humbled by the positive comments our clients shared with us. Since then, we have all been asking ourselves: Could we replicate those results? Could we remain Unique? Let’s get straight to the results and find out.

OUR 2018 RESULTS

Bottom line: this year our scores are good but not as good as in our previous assessment.

We had a 45% completion rate, a CRQ of 5.4 and a NPS result of +23%.

These are good scores but to our disappointment, our Uniqueness “prize” has been taken away from us. When we first saw the headline results, we felt like a hard-working team in a top restaurant that has just lost its Michelin star. The great Irish chef and restauranteur Kevin Thornton described that experience as akin to “a stab in the heart”. I don’t think we took the news as badly as Kevin did but we certainly felt a little deflated.

On the plus side, we were only just outside the Unique zone, and the encouraging message for me was that the overall feedback was still very positive:

-Top quartile performance (even if it wasn’t top decile)

-Half of our customers are Ambassadors – same as in our previous assessment

-No Ambivalents, Stalkers or Opponents in our customer portfolio – better than last time around

-Very positive reaction to the introduction of our Deep-Dive online platform

 

THE CHALLENGES OF REMAINING “UNIQUE”

Being Unique was great. It was a validation of everything we had been striving to achieve. It meant we were on a par with the the Top 10% of all companies globally. But it’s a challenge to maintain that Unique status so it was important for us to understand what messages lay behind the headline results and address any common issues across our client base.

When we went through the results in more detail, we discovered that the number of clients who had given us higher scores this year was the same as the number who had given us lower scores. Our new clients also gave us very good scores so it wasn’t an on-boarding issue which is an issue we see in some of our clients’ assessments. We did notice that one of our larger clients had scored us badly for not being flexible enough in our dealings with them, and this became very clear when we went through the verbatim comments. There was no shortage of suggestions from people on how we could improve our offering and regain our Unique status.

We want our Unique status back! What are we going to do about it? Based on your feedback, we are planning three sets of activities in 2018:

#1. Implement a benchmarking programme

While reading your comments we realised that one word that kept getting mentioned: ‘benchmarking’. In previous years, we would tell our clients that the two best benchmarks you can have are against your previous performance (have you made significant improvements since last year?) and against a Best In Class standard (are you seen as “Unique”?). Most of our clients buy into those messages but there is still a strong desire among senior executives to understand how their organisations fare against their peers in their industry. Deep-Insight has over 15 years worth of historic CRQ and NPS data across a variety of B2B industry sectors and this year we will start implementing benchmarking comparisons in our reporting.

#2. Bring more innovation to the table

In late-2016 we started to roll out a new online reporting and analysis tool called Deep-Dive. It has turned out to be a very popular addition as it allows additional analysis and insights to be gleaned from the underlying data. This year, we will be making minor improvements on reporting and more intuitive navigation. In 2019 our aim is to give Deep-Dive a complete makeover with a new interface and features. We have also taken on board a number of comments regarding our product offering. For example: questionnaire length (“Can we make it shorter!”), anonymity (“Do customer assessments always have to be anonymous?”) and frequency (“Can you run monthly/ quarterly NPS surveys for us?”) and we will have announcements on these items later in 2018.

#3. Review our processes and be more flexible

We are perceived as rigid and inflexible by some clients. Now there are times when we need to be rigid. For example, our clients trust us to keep their details secure and their customers trust us to keep their feedback anonymous. On the other hand, we are aware that there is still work to do on our processes and in particular on the automation of tasks and activities. We have already started reviewing them to see how we can upgrade and automate some of these activities. We are also looking at how we can better integrate the Deep-Insight offering with other CX technologies in the marketplace, as well as examining how to make the core CRQ question set shorter..

In the coming weeks, we will be discussing these results with you in order to figure out how we can better serve your needs in 2018. On a personal level, I’m looking forward to those discussions and welcome the opportunity to allow you shape Deep-Insight’s future.

John O’Connor
CEO, Deep-Insight