B2B versus B2C
Can we puhlease start to differentiate between B2C consumer satisfaction and B2B customer satisfaction?
It’s driving me crazy.
B2C is about buying a motorcar or a bar of chocolate or some music. It might be about you having the condition of your teeth checked or even having a tonsillectomy. These are all experiences, judged on the point of sale and the subsequent delivery of the product or service. Highly developed, high-volume experiences lead to brand value – BMW; Nestle; I-Tunes. B2C is where the money that is already on the table gets shuffled around and redistributed.
B2B is about buying raw materials and components, capital goods and long-term services such as buildings management and financial audits. These are all ongoing relationships, built on trust, mutual support and mutual benefit. In most cases the goal is “partnering”. The value of these relationships is measured as “good will” on the balance sheet. B2B is the wealth creation of this world.
B2C is about the EXPERIENCE. B2B is about the RELATIONSHIP.
There is a third sector, which is smaller than the B2B and B2C segments but nevertheless significant, that revolves around project-based work. Examples would be law (on a case-by-case basis), management consultancy (where you are only as good as your last project), and building and civil engineering (“oh look – it’s a different ring master but the same old clowns”).
InfoQuest has always been about B2B. We will happily turn away business that does not fit the B2B profile.
With enquiries for B2C customer satisfaction surveys, my response is always the same: make sure the senior managers (managing directors, chief executives and others) are leaving their desks and watching and listening to their customers at the point of sale (preferably anonymously, although wearing a disguise is optional) at least weekly before they even think about employing an outside firm. Dame Mary Perkins, the owner of Europe’s most successful opticians, Specsavers, regularly goes incognito visiting her shops and employs an army of mystery shoppers. Sir Philip Green, boss of Arcadia and Britain’s 9th richest person, will go and talk to shoppers asking them what they like and what they don’t like.
The advice for project-based organisations is straightforward. The project manager and the client should have a regular Friday This Week / Next Week meeting to discuss what happened this week, what is planned for next week (commitments), put it in writing immediately and both parties sign it off. It’s not foolproof, but it ensures communication and goes some way towards partnering.
For B2B customer satisfaction surveys the client needs to be measuring the relationships they have with their most important customers. They need to be drilling down into that relationship, listening to both the decision-makers and the key influencers; treating people as people and individuals individually, with different wants, different needs and different personalities. And, above all, aiming to get a minimum 50% response rate to any survey or feedback mechanism for it to be anything like reliable.
Ten years ago I made the decision to launch InfoQuest in the UK at the CRM Show. InfoQuest had been around in the U.S. for eleven years and had had some exposure in the UK but no actual launch. It was a big mistake using the CRM Show (and we’ve still got the InfoQuest Customer Relationship Management Limited official moniker – another early mistake). Oracle and Siebel were about to take the world by storm with their CRM solutions and nowadays everyone naturally associates CRM or customer relationship management with big, powerful databases that record and plan customer interactions – what they sell should, in my mind, be referred to as Customer Interaction Management, but I guess its not so catchy. We were the only non-techy stand at the 3-day show and the IT managers and Chief Technology Officers just walked past. Oh well, happy days.
But please, can the researchers and the governments and the marketing professors and the business journalists of this world understand, accept and make the differentiation between B2B and B2C?