You’re running a survey among your B2B clients to measure their loyalty, but you know you should use your survey for more than just that. You want follow up with clients who express a concern so they know they’ve been heard! How do you best do that
You know how sensitive client relationships can be, so you’re wondering, “How do I walk that fine line between being helpful and being annoying?” and “How do I make sure the account owners know what’s going on and are okay with it?” Here’s one way, that’s worked for us in a medium-sized B2B technology company.
In deploying our relationship survey, we hold ourselves to three key values:
- Respect your clients’ wishes
- Ask them whether they would like to contacted and give them options.
- Follow up with every client
- Make sure every B2B client knows that their voice has been heard AND that it matters to your company.
- Keep everyone internally informed
- Tell the account owner immediately and keep other key employees informed about any client contact, and keep track of all follow-up in one central place.
Here are the specific details on how we do this:
Toward the end of the survey (which we’ve kept intentionally short), we ask the respondents two key questions:
Account Manager Questions:
- Do you have an immediate need that you’d like your account manager to call you about, right away? – Yes / No
- Briefly, what is it about? _____________“Other Contact” Questions:
- Would you like to discuss any aspect of your experience further, with someone other than your account manager? For example, you might want to provide feedback on our product development, sales processes, or strategy, or tell us how we can improve in some other way. This can be a 5-minute call if you like. – Yes, this week / Yes, next week / No
- Briefly, what is it about? _____________
Upon the client hitting “submit,” the survey program immediately sends a message containing all of the client’s responses to the right person: (1) the Account Manager or (2) a specified person on the senior management team who has agreed to follow up with these higher-level requests. The messages are also copied to the program lead and any other key personnel overseeing the process.
Remember, just because they said they don’t want an immediate call doesn’t mean you can’t call them about issues they’ve raised – after all, they have an ongoing relationship with your company – but it does mean that you should wait a day or two so that they don’t feel you’re disrespecting their wishes.
So, even if a client doesn’t request contact (which is the case for most clients), we make it a point to follow up on any issue they raise within two to three weeks, so people know they’ve been “heard” and we’re doing something about their concerns.
A couple tips to make this process work well:
- Prepare the account management team before the survey is deployed by telling them what they should expect. Paint the picture of stronger client relationships they could build through the follow-up process.
- At least at the beginning, appoint someone in a lead client relations role to coordinate all follow-up, and keep all the information in one central place.
Does this work? It sure does! And here’s an example:
Recently an account manager met with a large client who had told us in a survey that he felt he wasn’t getting enough guidance from the company in terms of technology trends. The account manager offered him a quarterly meeting to discuss just these issues, and the client was genuinely grateful and said he wants to participate. The account manager told us: “I think it was refreshing for him to know we’re following up on our surveys with ideas on how to enhance and grow the relationship beyond simply ‘order taking.’”
Determining how, when and by whom follow-up should happen during and after a B2B relationship survey can be tricky. But if you keep in mind the key values of respecting clients’ wishes, following up on every concern, and keeping everybody in the loop, you can earn great immediate advantages from your survey and build stronger client relationships.