B2B customer satisfaction research tips and what to avoid

August 27, 2021

Learn how to conduct B2B research to understand customer satisfaction, conduct sentiment analysis and gather feedback.

Garnering customer feedback or gauging customer satisfaction is one of the most important initiatives for enterprise success, particularly in B2B industries, where reputation is king.

Despite this importance, however, the strategies that most business leaders employ for conducting B2B customer satisfaction research are anecdotal and qualitative — which can result in flawed decision making.

Even companies that issue B2B customer satisfaction surveys to their clients on a regular basis typically only hear from a fraction of their customer base. Additionally, strong feelings often taint that feedback. Finally, one of the biggest missed opportunities in traditional approaches to customer feedback is getting the voice of potential customers alongside current and former ones.

Traditional market research approaches to B2B Voice of the Customer, and what each approach misses

There are five different approaches most companies use to identify customer sentiment and gather feedback. We’ve ordered them by popularity, and identified the drawbacks and deficiencies in each one:

1. Internal Qualitative Feedback From Sales Team

Sales representatives are biased toward selling more. Consequently, they will inevitably give feedback about pricing being too high, competitors offering more for less, and additional features being necessary to success. While some of this feedback may indeed be accurate, it comes from a biased source. The feedback cannot be trusted on its own.

2. Qualitative Feedback From Existing Customers

Existing customers are a good source of feedback. However, many B2B market research companies get exclusively anecdotal feedback from clients when something goes well, something goes poorly, or the client has an occasion to interact with them. Companies should use feedback from all customers should to measure customer satisfaction. This must include ones who are neutral, those who have positive sentiments, and those who are upset with your company/product.

3. Qualitative Feedback From Potential Customers (e.g., B2B Focus Groups)

Potential customers are a good source of data for product, marketing, and sales strategies and competitor analysis. That said, qualitative feedback from potential customers is only part of a much bigger story that Voice of the Customer feedback should tell.

4. Quantitative Data from Reports like Nielsen, Forrester, IDC, or Gartner

Like qualitative focus groups, quantitative reports only tell part of a much larger story. They can give insights into price points, feature analysis, and competitive analysis, but miss qualitative feedback. Additionally, since these reports don’t use primary data sources, they can contain outdated or inaccurate information.

5. A Mix of Quantitative and Qualitative Data from Consulting Companies

Consulting firms, like Gartner, are the only traditional source that offer both qualitative and quantitative data, however, they still have drawbacks. One drawback is that these firms are secondary sources. As a result, they may manipulate the data to fit an overarching narrative that pleases the client (you). Additionally, consulting firms usually take a select sample of sources to inform their conclusions. This sample may not be large enough to be comprehensive or significant.

Best practices for B2B Voice of the Customer: Large-Scale Surveys With Three Cohorts of Customers

Business leaders are currently making decisions based on anecdotal or insufficient evidence given to them by biased sources. But a new approach to customer feedback has recently emerged that addresses the shortcomings of each traditional method: Large-scale B2B customer surveys with large cohorts of current customers, potential customers (competitor customers), and ex-customers. These surveys can deliver responses from thousands of precisely targeted customers around the globe. They offer robust quantitative and qualitative feedback, directly from the source.

Despite their large scale, custom B2B customer satisfaction surveys are highly targeted. As a result, they yield extremely precise information that can be highly actionable. Additionally, because the avenue to the customer is direct, these surveys enable deep-dive interviews with respondents who give outlier or unique answers.

For instance, say a dissatisfied user cited in the survey dissatisfaction with “exorbitant prices for the quality of service.” You could do a follow-up consultation to understand precisely what was wrong with the quality of service and why the price point didn’t align with the customer’s expectations.

The ability to garner both qualitative and quantitative feedback is crucial to gaining a complete understanding of customer sentiment. From this sentiment, companies can craft highly targeted sales and marketing strategies. Additionally, they can develop strategic product roadmaps that will delight customers and attract new potential customers.

About NewtonX

NewtonX offers completely tailored large-scale B2B customer satisfaction surveys to address the issues outlined in this article. By leveraging a proprietary algorithm, the NewtonX Graph, we can rapidly and precisely identify the respondents for each cohort, deploy the survey to them, and additionally flags respondents that may have valuable qualitative insights. Companies can then conduct one-on-one consultations with these outlier respondents in order to get the most robust customer feedback possible.

NewtonX also offers competitive benchmarking and product market fit strategy in addition to custom survey design and reporting to give companies the most relevant insights for their needs.

If you need a B2B panel survey, work with NewtonX.

Sign up for our newsletter, NewtonX Insights:

Your playbook to making confident business decisions enabled by B2B research. Expect market research trends, tools, and case studies with leading enterprises, delivered monthly.