How to Get the Most Value From Your B2B Customer Research

How to Get the Most Value From Your B2B Customer Research

The ultimate goal of your B2B customer research is to gain a deeper understanding of what customers want and need from your brand so you can build stronger relationships and improve their overall experience. However, the success of your B2B research initiatives depends not just on what you learn, but also on the level of internal support for conducting the research, particularly among stakeholders with direct customer relationships. Here are six ways to help gain internal support for your B2B research while maximizing customer participation. Incorporating these steps into your next study will help ensure you get the greatest value out of your research investments.

 

6 Steps to Getting the Most Value from Your B2B Customer Research

  1. Create a win-win mindset
  2. Tap into your C-Suite to encourage customer participation
  3. Gather customer feedback from multiple perspectives
  4. Make participating in research a positive customer experience
  5. Communicate with participants post-research
  6. Bring the research full circle by sharing internally

1.  Create a Win-Win Mindset

Demonstrate how B2B customer research can be a win-win proposition by uncovering information that will help stakeholders succeed at meeting business objectives and at improving customer experiences. Start by clearly communicating the research objectives across your organization. Set clear expectations by sharing details with key stakeholders on how the research will be gathered and the results put to use.

  • Identify the critical questions the research will help answer
  • Communicate how the findings will be used to guide strategic decision making geared toward improving customer experiences, increasing satisfaction, and/or driving loyalty

2.  Tap Into Your C-Suite to Encourage Customer Participation

It’s equally important that your customers understand the value they’ll gain by participating in B2B research. Delivering compelling and attention-getting survey invitations are essential to encourage participation. First, give customers the courtesy of a pre-survey announcement from a senior-level executive in your organization. Then, send a personalized invitation to participate from a recognized contact. These communications give the research legitimacy and increase the likelihood your customers will take notice of, and act on, the actual survey invitation.

  • Send a well-crafted email message from a recognizable leader in your organization
  • Refer to a meaningful customer experience improvement that resulted from previous customer feedback, if possible
  • Offer to share an executive summary of the research findings with participants at the end of the study
  • Strike the right balance between encouraging participation with reminder communications while being sensitive not to over-communicate

3.  Gather Customer Feedback From Multiple Perspectives

More often than not, B2B purchases are group decisions. It’s important to include a cross-section of purchase decision-makers and influencers to fully understand the role each person plays, their needs, and expectations. Assessing feedback from multiple contacts at a single company can also uncover rich insight into what matters most for the organization, overall.

  • 56% of B2B buyers say that four or more people participate in the purchase processes at their organization

4.  Make Participating in Research a Positive Customer Experience

Participating in a B2B research study is an extension of the customer experience with your brand. It’s important to keep the intended research experience in mind when choosing the right methodology. Factors like participants’ role and level of purchasing-decision authority, the scope of information being collected, and estimated length of the survey can each have implications on the research design as well as participants’ experience taking part in the study. While there are no hard and fast rules when choosing a methodology, there are some general differences to consider.

  • Phone methodologies can be an effective approach when conducting research with hard-to-reach participants like senior-level customers, those with final purchase decision authority, high purchasing volume customers, or when needing to gather in-depth, open-ended feedback
  • Online methodologies are successful among customers who influence purchase decisions, or when gathering primarily quantitative data, such as transactional research

5.  Communicate with Participants Post-Research

Taking the time to follow-up with B2B research participants after the study is completed can generate goodwill toward participating in future research initiatives. Consider sharing some of the ways customer feedback is being used to improve products, services, and overall customer experiences. Your customers will appreciate seeing their feedback being put into action and knowing that their opinions and experiences really do matter.

  • Promptly communicate with participants to share high-level research findings, relevant industry insights, or improvements being made due to customer feedback (when offered)
  • Communicate with customers when key changes are being implemented as a result of customer research
  • Emphasize the value of their feedback and your organization’s commitment to understanding and meeting their needs

6.  Bring the Research Full Circle by Sharing Internally

Sharing the important learnings, insights, and implications from your B2B customer research with internal stakeholders is one of the most important steps in the overall research process. This is an opportunity to collaborate with colleagues to identify meaningful growth opportunities based on direct customer feedback. For instance, insights from customer satisfaction research should go beyond mere reporting of metrics to include data-driven suggestions of ways internal stakeholders can improve customer experiences. When internal team members gain a deeper understanding of their customers and walk away with information they can use, they will be more likely to support future research efforts.

  • Tailor your internal communications to meet the specific needs of different stakeholders
  • Share high-level summaries with senior-level executives while offering more in-depth reporting for those with frontline customer contact
  • Conduct working sessions with key stakeholders to help them develop action plans based on customer feedback

Successful B2B Research Yields Multiple Benefits

The experience of being a research participant is an extension of the customer experience. The way you interact with customers during B2B research, from the invitation to the survey experience, and post-research follow-up demonstrates the high value your organization places on listening to and acting on customer feedback. By increasing internal knowledge of your customers, uncovering opportunities for growth, and contributing to stronger customer relationships, your customers will see first-hand how committed your organization is to meeting their needs and improving their experiences.