In conducting well over 800 B2B market research projects in our 28 years of business, I have always commented that if I had the opportunity to conduct only one single market research project in any given year it would be Customer Insight®, and I would say that without any hesitation. Why? Because a single Customer Insight® project is the most impactful B2B market research project, providing a wealth of information about your current customer base that can easily be translated into revenue growth.
More specifically, Customer Insight® research delivers a broad range of insights that are valuable in supporting several critical sales and marketing efforts, such as:
- the creation of pertinent social media topics for blogs and posts,
- the development of customer personas,
- the identification or validation of CX opportunities and deliverables,
- future continuous improvement efforts,
- potential new product and service offerings,
- competitive advantages that can be marketed as valuable differentiators, and
- customer-specific issues that need to be addressed.
Are you Delivering on the Most Important Product and Service Attributes?
Is your organization aligned to deliver the level of service performance and product quality necessary to grow with your current customer base? Do your areas of strength align with those attributes that are most important in delivering value and satisfaction to customers? Answers to these questions are paramount in developing a winning growth strategy. You must perform in areas that matter to your customers.
This information is delivered in the form of a “Performance Improvement Map”. The map plots attributes on a grid framed by performance (horizontal dimension) and importance (vertical dimension) the true story of the company’s alignment with customer needs will emerge. The left side of the Performance Map shows attributes rated relatively low – labeled Improvement Priorities or Long-term Opportunities, depending on the level of importance to customers. Of particular interest are those attributes that are rated below average in performance and high in importance. This quadrant is labeled “Improvement Priorities.”
In the upper right-hand quadrant of the grid – or map – are attributes that are rated relatively high by customers and are important to them. We call these “Market Levers” because, more than other attributes, they are creating long-term positive satisfaction and loyalty. The lower right quadrant of the map represents Table Stakes, which are those attributes that are not seen as important until there are issues with performance.
What is Your Performance Relative to Competition on Key Attributes?
Who is performing better on critical service and product attributes, you, or your competition? If it is your competitor, your current share position is likely to decline. Where do you have a competitive advantage and can it be leveraged for growth? Where am I disadvantaged, and do I need to fix those areas? Knowledge of your competitive position on critical attributes is essential, outperforming the competition in these areas can lead to premium pricing as well as share growth. Know your competitive position in areas that are most important.
The “Competitive Position” graph below shows the difference in performance (or performance gaps) of a competitor versus your company. This analysis can be performed on multiple competitors. Attributes, where your company’s performance is behind the competitors, are represented with red bars, while blue bars indicate performance ahead of the competition.
In the figure below, the attributes that drive customer “promoters” are listed on the vertical axis (from high impact to low impact). A competitive performance score is then calculated for each attribute, red bars indicate performance behind the competition, while blue bars indicate performance above the competition. In this example, the company is behind the competition on 3 of the top 4 attributes driving “promoters”. Therefore, to improve your overall Net Promoter Score (NPS), it is imperative to improve in the areas of meeting customer quality needs, product consistency, and understanding customer needs. With this analysis, the data can be used to create a well-aligned strategic plan, with a high level of confidence that the desired results will be achieved.
Are you Creating Customer Advocates?
The best salesperson for your organization is often a customer. Customer referrals and recommendations not only provide additional new customers but also serves to solidify current business. Our data shows that there are only three or four single attributes that drive customers to recommend a company to a colleague. Performing ahead of the competition on the few attributes that drive customers’ recommendations can generate growth beyond your current customer base. Make sure your customers are recommending you, not your competitor.
In the “Customer Advocacy” chart below, the attributes that drive customers to promote your business (“promoters”) are listed on the vertical axis (from high impact to low impact). A competitive performance score is then calculated for each attribute, red bars indicate performance behind the competition, while blue bars indicate performance above the competition. In this example, the company is behind the competition on three of the top four attributes driving “promoters”. Therefore, to improve overall NPS, it is imperative to improve in the areas of meeting customer quality needs, product consistency, and understanding customer needs. Armed with this information, companies can pinpoint improvement plans and assure increased NPS.
The Value of Customer Insight®
Customer Insight® research provides specific actionable insight into the most critical areas of the customer relationship exploring four critical areas: performance on key attributes, the importance of each attribute, competitive position relative to specific deliverables, and customer advocacy. The results of this single B2B research project can be used to create a well-supported share gain strategy within your current customer base and to develop direct customer data to support numerous sales and marketing activities. A well-executed Customer Insight project delivers excellent value, especially if your organization is operating with a limited budget for market research.