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What NPS and Customer Effort Score can mean for customer retention in B2B

"Everyone knows NPS, but in itself, it's usually not enough to measure customer satisfaction."

Almost all B2B organisations understand that, over time, a satisfied customer will generate more income. There's a reason we have support staff, account managers, and business developers who continuously work on maintaining key relationships. Yet many organisations still struggle to structurally increase retention and reduce churn. A major reason for this is that there are often no good processes in place to properly measure and monitor customer satisfaction.

The definition of customer satisfaction is quite broad:

The result of a measurement that we use to quantify how satisfied a customer is with a product, service or specific experience they had with your organisation.

Now, everyone knows the Net Promoter Score, which quantitatively measures customer loyalty (promoters minus detractors equals NPS).

The problem with NPS, however, is that this survey is conducted periodically.

Once a year, for example. This means that the customer's sentiment about a product or service is strongly based on their most recent experience.

An example: your customer has one of your machines in their production line and a support issue was unexpectedly picked up too late by your department. As a result, your customer's machine was temporarily down and they didn't meet their quota for that week. Now there's a fair chance that the NPS survey will be completed with that less-than-stellar experience in mind.

Problematic? Absolutely – for both parties! Fair? If your service had been good for the rest of the year – probably not.

NPS does not identify bottlenecks in the customer journey

In particular when a situation arises and the memory of it is still fresh in the customer's mind. And being able to identify bottlenecks is the most crucial thing in monitoring important stages in the process!

(Just to highlight the importance – acquiring a new customer is 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.)

Now, you want to be able to identify and take action on things that might jeopardise the satisfaction of your customers in a timely manner. However, this information is often found with various co-workers and departments. Periodic surveys such as the NPS – however valuable they may be – only give an indication of the quality of your service. Your customers are constantly in contact with your organisation, after all – they don't see it as a collection of individuals, but as a whole.

Why is obtaining feedback so important?

Some important benefits of receiving customer feedback include:

  1. You gather insights you can use to improve your products or services
    By taking your customer's expectations into account and acting accordingly, you increase the level of customer loyalty for your organisation.
  2. You actively work on increasing customer retention
    Collecting feedback means that you listen to your customers and let them know that you want to improve the user-friendliness and quality of your product and/or service. A customer who feels heard will be more loyal to your organisation.
  3. You identify satisfied customers (who can act as promoters of your organisation)
    Satisfied customers are marketers too! They're usually interested in telling others about your organisation, whether they're being asked or of their own volition.
  4. You can make informed choices
    Feedback helps validate the feelings or opinions people in your organisation may have about something. You don't make choices based on gut feeling or incidents, but supported by hard data. A certain issue may seem really urgent because one customer is kicking up a storm, whereas nine other customers might have a completely different problem.

Use the Customer Effort Score to measure how easy it is for customers to solve problems

The Customer Effort Score (CES) is a method to measure customer satisfaction based on the customers' ease of experience with your product or service or the ease of solving a problem. This can be queried using a five-point scale.

Key to obtaining the Customer Effort Score is gathering it immediately after an important milestone or touchpoint – immediately after closing a support ticket, for example. Or when a visitor on your website or knowledge base has read an article about solving a particular issue. You can use the results to identify how you can improve the customer's support experience.

Is there anything the Customer Effort Score doesn't tell you?

The Customer Effort Score will give you an excellent idea of how customers experience an important milestone or touchpoint in the customer journey. As such, it's less suitable for finding out what someone thinks about your organisation, product or service in general.

When measuring the customer satisfaction of your B2B company, you need to distinguish the two "axes": Support and Loyalty

  • Support
    You use the Customer Effort Score to measure specific make-or-break moments in the customer journey. The goal is to discover and take action on bottlenecks in the customer experience in a timely manner. In many cases, Support is one of these important moments, especially in B2B.
  • Loyalty
    You periodically collect the NPS score (once every 3, 6 or 12 months, for instance), to get a general picture of your customers' loyalty.

Which changes are you going to make?

Both scores serve as management information/organisational KPIs. Any movement will let you know it's time to dive deeper into the data and determine where to make changes. It's an efficient way of organising the "standard" monitoring process and it gives the organisation the tools to decide which labour-intensive follow-up actions to prioritise.

If you're more interested in finding out how customers think about a specific aspect of your product or service (zooming in), a Customer Satisfaction Survey would be the best solution.

Obtaining, securing, and analysing feedback: which tooling to use?

First of all: the process is key! Don't just get started with tooling if you haven't got a clear picture yet about which goal you want to achieve. The blog 'Do you know which customers are leaving tomorrow?' will tell you how to set up a solid framework for obtaining feedback.

Are you one step ahead? And are you ready to finetune your framework/process with tooling that can handle tickets and measure the NPS and Customer Effort Score?

Now let's get started on measuring your customer satisfaction!

Picture of Kelly Antonis
Kelly Antonis

Inbound Content Marketeer