Understanding what your clients/customers and partners think about your organisation is critical regardless of whether you’re in a B2C or a B2B environment. This is especially true where branding, service/product development and business intelligence is concerned. There’s all manner of quant data, measurement and analysis available for business especially in the areas of sales, marketing and CRM; but how do you go about understanding the humans behind your sales workflows? The people spiking your email open rate? Or the personas vital to your contact strategies? Well, in short…
What would you REALLY like to know about your B2B clients?
The knack with all research is defining the questions you want to ask, recruiting the right participants to take part, and then tasking them with questions in just the right way to elicit honest and open responses. When these challenges are tackled well, it can lead to powerful insight. These processes can be facilitated using online technology and digital tools. Online research enables US to ask the questions of customers that YOU may not always be able to ask directly, helping overcome issues of distance and allowing us to often get to the heart of their experiences; in some ways you could liken it to a ‘secret shopper’ option for B2B.
Most B2B companies have their own client satisfaction surveys, quality ratings and lead scoring capabilities, and these are fine up to a point. However, often such systems are only ever utilised by clients in times of need, crisis, or (let’s face it) boredom. They are rarely representative of the whole user experience. This is where digital research can be so useful, offering a tool which connects you to your consumer throughout their entire journey, and allowing for a dynamic and fluid exploration of their world, on their terms and in a highly cost-effective way.
So, here are three such areas we think online research could benefit B2B businesses:
What Shape is Your B2B Brand In?
A brand is a promise delivered, and brand equity is everything. So how does your B2B brand stack up against the competition? How is it perceived in the marketplace? What do users really think of your products and services and why do they use them? What would your clients improve, or how could YOU make it easier for them – based on their downstream demand? These questions require a creative approach to research that explores and uncovers insights and goes beyond the remit of simple surveys alone. For example, research participants can be asked to perform tasks that focus their thinking on aspects of branding or advertising. Their answers can be developed and discussed in online communities, where ideas can be explored and nuance teased out. Discovering the truth behind questions such as these is valuable. You can use insights to inform decision making, update and inform your modus operandi and make changes to your customer facing systems and processes so that they’re more applicable to the humans you’re targeting.
A Day-In-The-Life – Put yourself in your clients’ shoes
So, you think you know your clients? You have your sales personas figured out, but what about their daily routines? What about their work/life balance? What do they really want from trade events? What really motivates them? How do they use LinkedIn and networking tools? These questions can be addressed in online community forums or explored up close and personal by using one-to-one (in-the-moment) mobile technology. Contemporary digital tools provide us with the ability to get you into the pockets, or onto the desktops, of your customers like never before, at any time. This means that you can uncover timely themes and frustrations, and capture emotional responses when they occur.
Inform your planning - Take a trip Upstream or Downstream of Your Business
As well as understanding your direct clients and partners, why not try and understand your sector drivers better? A large part of business is about effective planning. What happens when you find some grey areas because you’re not getting the visibility you need from your clients and partners? How do you find out if suppliers or partners are standing still and not developing their offering to their clients? How can you better integrate with your partners to address these issues and deliver an offering that’s better than your competitors? For example, you want to understand your clients customers better and what they think about new developments in technology that may impact them in future. How are they intending to respond to this? What impact will this have on the way you work with partners? These are all issues that can be addressed rapidly using qualitative research. Creating digital communities that comprise either internal or external clients and stakeholders (or even a mix of the two) can create fertile ground for ideas and innovation that prevents stagnation and illuminates all sectors or stages of your business.
Investment in research can be transformative for B2B businesses. Different business areas can benefit from the same insights that are derived, and can then be realigned and galvanised behind them. Insight also delivers business strategic confidence and decision-making ability. It’s about knowing you’re on the right lines where customers and partners are concerned, rather than guessing. Let's Talk