Attention Incumbents: Strategies for Mining Out Valuable Client Feedback
Bid submissions are often peppered with kitschy self-descriptions of the bidder as a “business partner” to the client or customer organisation.
How to make that concept more than lip service once the bid is won (and thus keep the business when the contract is up for renewal and a new market call is on the horizon)?
The key is to build in client feedback mechanisms and instill both your business development and your service delivery teams with an “always seeking client feedback” mindset.
Here are some tips:
- Show genuine, selfless concern – all the time, for no reason other than that you care.Don’t make sales calls. Make service calls. Use these to determine what extra value you can be delivering as part of your current contract and cost base – and make sure you take the opportunity to extract as much feedback about your organisation’s / product’s current performance as possible.
Show them how much you care . . . without giving them an invoice for it or expecting a sale out of it every time.
- Every six or so months, conduct a formal and multi-level feedback exercise.Seek permission to extend your feedback efforts to all stakeholder groups, and work collaboratively with the client on a strategy and instrument for extracting the feedback.
Be clear with all parties as to the reason you want these insights, and precisely what you are going to do with them – and (equally precisely) how (in genuine terms) you intend to use this information for the benefit of the client or customer organisation.
- Make sure that any survey instrument you might use is not formulated in the manner of the almost-always self-centric conventional questionnaire.These are usually highly transparent in being an exercise in the interests first and foremost of the supplier/service provider, rather than in the interests of the client / customer and its stakeholder groups.
Keep in mind the fundamental objective: To identify exactly what each group needs and wants, and to determine how well you are delivering on those expectations/needs/desires.
Then drill down into the minutiae of the various components of the topic.
Keep a constant check that you’re not letting the questions come across as loaded or self-serving.
- Design any questionnaires in such a way that the responses are actionable. This will likely involve following any qualitative/open questions with quantitative/closed questions for confirmation of the intent of the respondent when answering a subjective question.While (for the sake of minimising the respondent’s time commitment and thus maximising participation), you will want to have a heavier weighting of quantitative/closed questions than qualitative/open questions, ensure you nonetheless have sufficient options in any multiple choice type approach, to allow for a reasonable range of answers.
It may or may not be appropriate to incentivise participation, although in formal customer survey programs (especially in the B2C environment), this is often considered almost essential for a reasonable degree of participation.Over to you. I’ll refrain from making recommendations on this potentially controversial element of the process when applied to the B2B environment.
However, if you DO take this approach, make sure you (a) set a deadline for responses to receive rewards, and (b) offer a prize to every respondent who submits a response within that timeframe, with the best level of prizes going to the first responses in.