You Said, We Listened

Last month, we asked our clients what they thought of us. We do this every year and take our Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) feedback seriously. We try to follow the advice we give to our own clients: give your customers the opportunity to tell you what they think. Listen to what they say. Then act on their feedback.

As we did last year, we cast the net for our 2022 CRQ assessment quite wide. We didn’t just limit the survey to a handful of key decision makers in current clients. We included many operational and administrative contacts. Their views are equally important. We also asked dormant customers what they thought of us.
 

Last year, you said…

The main message that you gave us last year – actually for the last two years – was that you needed more than just a survey provider. In practice, that meant providing more assistance AFTER your customers gave their feedback. You needed a partner that could help you deliver meaningful change across your whole organisation. You also wanted us to be more flexible and supportive.

We listened, and here are three of the things we did in response to your feedback.

1. Deliver more than just a survey

We have always strived to be more than just a survey company. Our mission is to help companies become truly customer-centric. Getting customer and employee feedback is part of that process, but there’s much more to it than launching a survey. That’s why we completely redesigned the way we work with clients, based on what you said to us.

Today we spend a lot more time with leadership teams and sales or account teams both BEFORE we think about asking our customer’s clients for their views as well as AFTER they give their feedback. The BEFORE piece is critical and must be done properly. If you don’t invest the time up-front, your CX (or EX) programme will not deliver the results that Management and the Board expect from it. More than likely, it will end in failure. It’s as simple as that.

2. Assist with Customer Relationship Quality ‘Healthchecks’

Last year we conducted CRQ ‘Healthchecks’ for clients in the UK and Ireland. The objective of a ‘Healthcheck’ is to benchmark how good a company’s Customer Experience or Customer Satisfaction programme is. That doesn’t just mean assessing if the right questions are being asked of the right people. It’s a more fundamental look at whether all the right components are in place to deliver genuine and meaningful benefits. We do this under four headings:

1. LEADERSHIP. The most important quadrant. Good Customer Excellence (CX) programmes are ALWAYS led from the top
2. STRATEGY. Good CX programmes link customer, product, operational and organisational strategy explicitly to customer needs
3. EXECUTION. Success requires properly resourced teams that are brilliant at executing the Strategy
4. CULTURE. Finally, Customer Excellence must become integral to the DNA of the organisation: “it’s how we do things around here”

All four quadrants are necessary for a successful CX programme. The ‘Hard Side’ quadrants of Strategy and Execution are all about metrics and processes. ‘Hard Side’ activities lend themselves to key performance indicators (KPIs) and while the activities in these two quadrants are important and easily measurable, the quadrants of Leadership and Culture are actually more critical.

In our experience, Leadership is the most important quadrant while Culture is the most challenging. And yet, here’s the strange thing: in most CX programmes the ‘Soft Side’ is often overlooked and almost always under-resourced.

3. Run Customer Centricity ‘Masterclasses’ for managers and leadership teams

One of the key ‘Soft Side’ challenges is making sure your entire organisation is on board with your CX (or CSat or NPS or Customer Relationship Quality) programme. Over the past 12 months, we have partnered with the world-leading HEC Business School in Paris.

That collaboration has helped us develop and deliver a ‘Masterclass’ to educate leadership teams, managers and partners about the importance and benefits of putting the customer at the heart of everything they do. The ‘Masterclass’ also helps employees understand the crucial role they play in making their companies customer-centric.

Already, these ‘Masterclasses’ have been delivered both virtually (for COVID reasons) and face-to-face to clients in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
 

How did we score this year?

Having made the investments over the past two years, we were very curious to get your reaction. In short, you were very generous in your responses this year.

This year we achieved a Net Promoter Score of +66 and a Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) score of 6.1 out of 7.

This is the highest NPS result we have ever achieved to date and the third time we have scored over +50. Our CRQ score is also the highest we have ever achieved and we are honoured to be thought of so highly by you, our valued clients.


 

Result: new client wins

I honestly believe that it’s because of the trust that our clients place in Deep-Insight that we have been able to announce some great new wins in recent months.

We have a 10+ year relationship with Atos but primarily in the UK & Ireland. Earlier this year, we extended that relationship to Germany and over the next three years we will be partnering with Atos on one of their most important and strategic global accounts.

One of our largest accounts in Australia was the logistics company Toll Group. Last year our key contact at Toll moved to Scotts Refrigerated Logistics and we recently signed a new 3-year contract to help ScottsRL become one of the most customer-centric companies in Australia.

Vreugdenhil Dairy Foods is a Dutch milk powder manufacturer that operates in Barneveld, Scharsterbrug, Gorinchem and Madrid. Its 500 staff process 1.4 billion kilograms of milk each year. Over the next three years, we will be working with the Vreugdenhil leadership team to turn a company that creates great food products into a truly customer-centric organisation.


 

Agenda for 2022

While we’re really proud of these Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) and NPS scores, there is more to do.

For starters, we got feedback from 48% of the people we asked to participate. While that’s not bad, we do see some room for improvement. Last year our response rate was 55%. We know that some of our clients achieve rates of 70% or more. We will be working hard to improve on this figure next year.

Second, the main feedback we received this year is that our new consulting services are great BUT not enough. Our clients are looking for Deep-Insight to provide even more support. The two customer quotes below confirm to me that we need to support clients on a year-round basis.

“Would like to see greater insight on how we can really make a difference for our customers. How do we truly address those recurring themes that come up each year? It would be great to get insight on how we can do this better – beyond the data”

“I would question to what degree on a continual basis Deep-Insight provides interaction and insight as a partner to the business. Also, to what extent there are follow-up meetings post results as you as experts help inform our response and strategy.”

 

Third, the feedback process is not finished yet. We need to ‘close the loop’ with all clients and discuss their specific feedback. We will be in touch shortly and will be looking specifically for more insights into any additional support needs they may have.

I need to finish off by thanking Fiona Lynch for planning, organising and running this year’s client assessment. Fiona joined us earlier this year from Atos where she was part of a global service delivery team. It’s great to have her on board.

So, well done Fiona, and thank you to all of our clients. We really do value your feedback.
 
 
John O’Connor
CEO, Deep-Insight
 
 
 

Should Customer Experience and NPS Surveys be Anonymous?

CX and NPS feedback – should it be anonymous?

Should Customer Experience and NPS Surveys be Anonymous? The simple answer is NO – anonymity is not required for a B2B CX or NPS programme.

But the answer is not that simple. Let’s start by defining what Confidential and Anonymous mean in the context of surveys. This may sound obvious, but I have been amazed at the number of times I have needed to discuss this:

ANONYMOUS: No person or application can associate the answers you give with any identifiable information about you
CONFIDENTIAL: Any identifiable information about you will be held confidentially, and stored in an appropriately secure manner
OPTIONAL CONFIDENTIALITY: Any identifiable information about you will be held confidentially, and stored in an appropriately secure manner unless you specify that you would like to be identified (in other words, you decide to waive your right to confidentiality)

So for the rest of this blog, I am not longer going to dwell on anonymity. It’s simply not needed.

Confidentiality – now that’s a different matter

In any setting, when a third party asks for your opinion about someone, confidentiality is important to ensure a really open and honest response. In personal relationships this goes without saying but in the B2B world this is also true. It’s especially true if your staff are doing what you need them to be doing – building strong and personal relationships with clients.

Of course, many of your customers will indeed give you an honest response regardless of whether it is confidential or not. But many won’t. Cultural differences will mean this statement is truer in some parts of the world than others. However, regardless of where your customers live, there will always be those who will not respond, or who may not be as open as you would like them to be, unless their responses remain confidential.

Example 1

This example is an actual Deep-Insight client.

Company A ran a Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) assessment (Survey 1) and told respondents that they had the option for their responses to remain confidential. Six months later Company A ran the survey again, but this time told respondents the option to remain confidential was removed.

The impact on their average Net Promoter Scores (remember NPS is a measure of advocacy on a 0 to 10 scale) was as follows:

Individuals’ responses in Survey 1 Completion Rate (Survey 2) Average NPS (Survey 1) Average NPS (Survey 2)
Chose confidentiality (did not share details) 55% 6.3 7.5
Waived confidentiality (shared details) 70% 7.1 7.2

 

For respondents who had shared their names with their responses in Survey 1, there was no significant impact. When asked to complete Survey 2, 70% did complete and only a small uptick in scores was noted (7.1 to 7.2).

However, where respondents chose to keep their feedback confidential in Survey 1, there was a much bigger impact. For starters, only 55% of these individuals chose to complete Survey 2. For those who completed Survey 2, there was also a significant increase in scores (from 6.3 to 7.5). In fact, ‘Confidential’ respondents went from scoring more poorly than average to scoring more positively than average when forced to share their details with the response.

Example 2

Here’s another client of ours. Having received very high scores for several consecutive surveys, Company B decided to introduce the option of confidentiality to ensure the integrity of what it was measuring. The findings were interesting, especially for newly-included respondents:

  • 26% of respondents opted to remain confidential overall but for newly-included respondents the figure was 38%
  • ‘Confidential’ respondents scored more poorly than those who agreed to share their responses – but not significantly so
  • Newly-included respondents who opted for confidentiality scored significantly more poorly than other respondents

 

“…but my teams are frustrated by these unactionable ‘Confidential’ responses”

In both examples above, the organisations had good business reasons when they chose not to include confidentiality in their CX process:

  • Improved usefulness as an account management tool as ALL feedback is provided to account management teams
  • All raw data can be fully integrated with internal systems, allowing ongoing re-segmentation of responses (this is limited when responses are confidential)

But the argument that your CX or NPS programme should include ‘Optional Confidentiality’ is far stronger. If you don’t include optional confidentiality, your most unhappy customers will either not respond or will not give you a completely honest response.

This puts your entire CX or NPS programme at risk. You will end up making decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete data.

So should NPS Surveys be Anonymous? No. Should they include ‘Optional Confidentiality’? Absolutely!

“Is there any way to convince ‘Confidential’ respondents to share their details but still give an honest response?”

Maybe, but this will take time; people are people after all.

If a customer is at a point in their journey with you that they do not want to share their details, but they are willing to give feedback, that’s OK. Of course, you can explain the benefits of what you can do if they agree to share their details with you (you can address their issues more easily) but don’t push too hard. There is a trust issue here. Pushing won’t help.

You have a much better chance of convincing this customer by including them in your ‘Close the Loop’ process even though you don’t have a response from them. Over time you will gain their trust, both in the CX or NPS programme as well as in your organisation. You’ll eventually win that shared response.

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.
 
 
 

How to Maximise Completion Rates for a CX Programme?

Setting up and running B2B Customer Experience (CX) programmes is our ‘bread and butter’ at Deep-Insight.

We’re used to handling questions on how to make CX programmes more effective. One of the most common questions we 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 customers and that these contacts 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
 

The spread is wide.

The most common completion rate is in the 26-30% range. We have a smaller number of clients – typically those 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’s 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?”

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

Our lowest-ever completion rate (4%) came from a first-time UK software client. The quality of contact data was simply terrible. We should have spotted that it was little more than a ‘data dump’ from the company’s CRM system. The list included people who had left their companies three years earlier. It included people who had never even heard of our client. It probably included the names of people who were dead. That’s because there was no governance in place for the programme. The Sales Director was not involved. 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 a critical part of their ongoing strategic partnership.

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
 

6 Steps to Improve your Completion Rates

Here are the steps you need to take to get your completion rates up:

  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.

 

Completion Rates of 90% or more?

Follow the above steps and you’ll get your completion rates to 50% or higher.

But remember that these completion rates are at an individual level. You should be getting feedback from multiple people at different levels within each client. Include Influencers and Operational Contacts as well as Key Decision Makers. That way you’ll get a wealth of information about what your key accounts REALLY think of you.

You’ll also get completion rates of 90% at an account level if you take this approach.

If you are interested in reading more about running a CX programme effectively take a look at our process for running a B2B CX assessment or just get in touch with us today for a chat.
 
 

Does NPS Work for B2B Companies