CX: Turning customer satisfaction insight into action

Andrew Dalglish, director of Circle Research, outlines nine golden rules to follow when turning customer satisfaction insight into action

If you don’t measure, you can’t manage. Among the B2B companies measuring the customer experience (disappointingly, only half of them), customer satisfaction surveys are the most common tool, used by 73%. However, it seems many customers treat these surveys with cynicism. Consider these stats: 45% of B2B buyers believe that most companies don’t listen to feedback from customer satisfaction surveys and 47% believe suppliers are unlikely to act on the findings even if they did listen.

So, how do you ensure that your customer satisfaction programme makes a positive difference? Here are nine golden rules:

Rule one: Create stakeholder ownership

Things don’t happen unless people make them happen. So the first step in any customer satisfaction programme is to identify those who have the power, skills and motivation to drive action on the back of the findings. These critical stakeholders should then be invited to form a working group that shapes and owns the programme.

Rule two: Measure the right things

Before anything is measured, another group of key stakeholders needs to shape the research – your customers. A small selection of customers should be engaged to reveal the critical areas of their experience and potential drivers of satisfaction at each stage. This will ensure that the research provides a complete understanding of the customer experience and identifies the actions that will make the biggest impact.

Rule three: Prioritise

Once you know what to measure, a survey can then be deployed to measure it. This survey should prioritise action areas so that your resources can be effectively deployed. To do so, avoid asking customers what matters most to them, as people often lack insight into their own motivations and in B2B environments there’s a tendency to over-rationalise. Instead, use statistical techniques such as regression analysis to reveal the relative power of each area of the experience in driving overall satisfaction.

Rule four: Get the detail

To take action in each of these areas you need to know not only if there’s a problem but also the exact nature of the problem. Therefore, be sure to include open-ended questions in the survey where customers can give this valuable detail. Post-survey, you may also want to consider some further focus groups or interviews to explore in detail specific issues raised by the survey.

Rule five: Create a plan

Now comes the most important bit – doing something with all this insight. The first step is to craft it into an engaging story that brings the customer experience to life, clearly identifies any issues and details and what to do about them. Then reconvene the working group of key stakeholders, share the story and run a workshop that explores how to drive improvements. This session should result in an action plan with goals, responsibilities, timelines and targets.

Rule six: Cascade

This action plan is the most important output, but don’t keep the insights in a silo. Rather, using an easy-to-digest format such as video or infographics, share the customer story across the entire organisation. This will help to build a customercentric culture and contribute to improved performance through a mass of small, spontaneous actions.

Rule seven: Create accountability

A small set of customer satisfaction KPIs should also be set and reported at board level. This will provide further impetus for action, especially if KPI targets are linked to bonuses.

Rule eight: Close the loop

Finally, feed back to customers. Thank them for their support and summarise the key survey findings – good and bad – and tell them what you’ll be doing to make their experience better in future. This communication serves two purposes – it builds goodwill and it commits the organisation to action.

Rule nine: Repeat

Having created an action plan, action it! To measure the impact of these actions and further refine them, repeat your customer satisfaction survey on a regular basis. In B2B environments, that usually means every 12 months, which is a sufficient enough gap to allow actions to bite and really make a difference. Thank customers for their support and summarise the key survey findings – good and bad – and tell them what you’ll be doing to make their experience better in future. This communication serves two purposes – it builds goodwill and it commits the organisation to action.


CXcellence: How to achieve CX success in B2B

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CXcellence: How to achieve CX success in B2B