Most, if not all, organizations will have a major customer or two. These are the key accounts that have a significant part to play in your business success; potentially ruining your year (or, at the other end of the spectrum, doubling your sales) with a single snap decision.
If you thought that customer satisfaction surveys didn’t have a part to play in this dynamic – that CSAT surveys were somehow only for managing lots of smaller customers – then think again.
Understanding big customers is the only way to avoid the kind of sudden, big-scale surprises that you could otherwise find it tough to cope with.
Use CSAT surveys to ride the big customer wave
Big customers are high stakes risk and reward. Your perfect dream and your worst nightmare. On the plus side they make a huge contribution to your annual revenues and serve as rocket fuel for the development of your products and services. On the downside, you always run the risk of the relationship ending, often for reasons that you didn’t anticipate.
Customer Thermometer is routinely deployed to monitor the ongoing health of big, wide-ranging relationships with major customer accounts. The insights created often mean the difference between continuing customer revenues and profits, or a breakdown stemming from any number of variables that could end up costing thousands or even millions.
So here are the five most common ways that organizations lose big customers, and how Customer Thermometer-powered CSAT strategies can be employed to stop them happening.
1) You want to listen to customer feedback continually but you can’t
Despite best intentions, many organizations struggle to plan and execute a workable way of listening to customer feedback continually. This ultimately means that things can go bad quickly, and at any moment.
Traditional customer service surveys, which often list 5, 10 or even 20 questions, can easily get ignored by big clients, and online surveys can feel too impersonal or time-consuming for individual contacts (particularly senior ones) to bother filling in.
In many relationships, it could be months or even years between episodes of customer feedback, and the whole concept of continual CSAT tracking is no longer normalized. In such situations, the supplier organisation may not want to broach the subject for fear of unleashing a backlog of pent-up negativity. Meanwhile, the customer is unlikely to volunteer any feedback that isn’t either very bad or very good.
What’s needed from the outset is a transparently simple and non-disruptive process that the client can use throughout their journey, to give feedback at practically any opportunity. This approach is more successful than running ‘set-piece’ annual customer feedback surveys that risk recording inadequate levels of data.
2) You unexpectedly breach the ‘cumulative issue threshold’
Add up enough little problems and, sooner or later, you find yourself facing up to a big problem. But what if you don’t know about each of the little problems, haven’t been keeping a running score, or don’t even know what level the threshold is set at?
Customers tend not to complain about minor issues, but that doesn’t mean that – somewhere within their organisation – a picture isn’t being created of exactly how well you are doing against their expectations. And you may never know unless you ask.
A quick customer survey approach provides the perfect outlet to non-disruptively collect this data on a regular basis. You can chart trends that show how client expectations and experiences are progressing, and step in or escalate immediately should there be a serious issue to resolve.
3) Your day-to-day contacts don’t like hurting your feelings
Typically, your best relationships exist with those customer contacts you engage most regularly with. With a good CSAT survey process in place, you should at least be prompting them for feedback, listening to their experiences and responding appropriately.
However, one risk remains: the people you deal with aren’t being completely honest about how things are going and give you the answers they think you want to hear, rather than the truth.
A lightweight approach to customer surveys enables a higher frequency of feedback, and with high response rates enables you to build a more accurate pattern of honest opinion.
4) You fail to listen to the real decision makers
As noted above, your best relationships are likely to be with day-to-day contacts.
However, because these people perhaps don’t have the ultimate decision-making responsibility for procuring goods/services or managing supplier contracts, you run the risk of failing to garner enough feedback from those that do.
A crucial step is mitigating this risk is to ensure you ask all the right people the right questions using a portable, easy to deploy and wide-ranging CSAT survey tool.
5) You focus so much on the transactional parts of the relationship that day-to-day interactions are overlooked
Getting a good balance between the feedback from different stakeholders is key to anticipating client issues before they present a serious risk to revenues.
However, this can be very challenging when the CSAT survey strategy becomes fixated on collecting customer feedback at each transactional milestone of the customer journey. For example, asking “how did we do today?” after the customer begins the relationship, places an order, makes a change to service levels, or renews the contract.
This fixation effectively pushes the needle too far in the direction of the budgetary decision maker and away from the views and concerns of day-to-day contacts who may not be involved in transactional matters. This underlines feedbacks’ role in the importance of customer retention.
The solution lies in employing a toolset that takes account of both ‘transactional’ (i.e. revenue-centric milestones) and ‘conversational’ (i.e. day-to-day interactions) and facilitates live metrics that can be tracked and managed.
Big customers are like themepark rollercoasters; you often have to wait patiently for the journey to start, and when it does you go through every emotion from foreboding and abject fear through to exhilaration and a sense of pride for having the guts to attempt it.
Using quick, lightweight, single-question CSAT surveys smooths out the ride and lets you learn to love big customers again. It won’t remove all the ups and downs, but you will be able to see what’s coming round the corner.
Give Customer Thermometer a whirl today. No details or credit card needed: