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B2B customer contact: tips to make it personal and efficient

B2B customer contact: what makes it a positive experience? Which expectations and needs does a B2B customer have? And are there differences between B2B branches? Each year TNS NIPO conducts a benchmark survey on a B2B theme, in collaboration with spotONvision. This year the theme was B2B customer contact. All insights and conclusions have been shared during the B2B Forum on March 17th. You can download the complete report here.

Learning about customer contact experiences, and putting lessons to work

Linda CornelissenLinda Cornelissen, social psychologist and B2B Consultant at TNS NIPO tells us more. During the B2B Marketing Forum she will present the results of B2B survey ‘B2B customer contact in 2016’, that TNS NIPO and spotONvision conducted collectively: “This survey is the most recent in a series of benchmark studies that aim at increasing knowledge on the Dutch business-to-business market.

In 2013 and 2014 we zoomed in on Business Buyer Journeys, whereas the 2015 survey was all about customer experience once a contract is finalised. In 2016 the focus is on customer contact, and the manner in which buyers of B2B products and services experience this. The reason we chose this subject is that we regularly see that business ask feedback from their customers, on a strategic level about the relationship in general or on an operational level shortly after customer contact. But not all companies take time to analyse the feedback they have collected; let alone that they adapt processes accordingly or train the employees to be more customer minded in future cases.”

“This called for our extensive survey. We consulted companies on the customer contact they had with their business suppliers. We made a comparison per branch and considered how often contact occurred, via which channel, and either with a dedicated contact person or with various employees. What’s more, we asked which needs and wishes there are regarding contact and which channel holds their preference. In total we analysed 661 customer relationships with B2B suppliers, for 186 companies larger than 10 employees.”

How can the B2B survey help to optimize customer contact?

“The results offer starting points for practical improvements that lead toward optimal customer contact”, according to Linda. “We will share solutions with you that will really work if you are looking for options for an alternative to a dedicated contact person, while still maintaining positive customer contact. We have found inspiring examples of companies who succeed in keeping customer contact both personal and pleasant. Many service minded organisations have worked on replacing that one (expensive) option of a dedicated contact person for a more efficient way of working, without customers experiencing this as less customer centric.

And, no less unimportant, we also discovered examples of how not to treat customer contact. For instance, telephone is a less appreciated channel. Perhaps this is a result of the automation of inbound calling and a maze of menu options. If it were up to the customer they would opt for personal contact with whoever has the answer, first time round.”

Social media also shows a preference for personal contact

“We asked respondents which channels have their preference. In today’s 24 hour economy, there may be certain expectations of Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp or sms but the results did not always meet these expectations.

We found out that WhatsApp or sms (e.g. social messaging) are gaining popularity as a B2B contact channel. That’s easily explained as these two favourite channels can be a form of direct of personal contact if the customer can see when the business partner is online and when response time is brief. These are just some of the insights we gained during the survey. Whoever wants to find out more, should be sure to be present on March 17th.”

Interested to learn more about customers’ wishes on B2B contact? Download the full report here.