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What goes into an effective B2B customer research campaign?

From understanding the client’s needs, to using the right techniques and interpreting the data – every step matters.

April 13th 2015, by louisa

Guiding you through the complex phases involved in achieving B2B research success

All research starts with questionnaire design and B2B research is no different.

But the pre-survey phase is usually more in-depth, selecting the best measurements and the right respondents. Once the data is collected it is vital to know how to analyse it and present to in an actionable fashion.

Here we look at the phases involved in B2B research and the complex methods undertaken in the journey from early design to end reporting.

These include:

  • Questionnaire design
  • Measurements
  • Targeting
  • Interview and sample size
  • Qualitative research
  • Breaking down the data

B2B questionnaire design

The whole structure of a questionnaire is underpinned by the research objectives. Its design is driven by the need to answer the client’s business question.

When researching customers, it is essential to understand the customer. We look closely at the client’s customer base, using their customers’ expectations and experiences to help us design the most effective questionnaire possible.

 We do this by:

  • Carrying out effective qualitative research, such as in-depth interviews or focus groups
  • Organising workshops with delivery teams, identifying process, touch points and the customer journey
  • Holding in-depth discussions with function heads to gather insight around business challenges and objectives

Applying the correct measures

Market research often refers to ‘measures’, this basically means converting a behaviour into something that can be measured. For example, we know that some customers are loyal – but in order to ‘measure’ this we need to ask the right questions.

Effective customer research should collect a mix of hard and soft measures:

  • Soft measures are about relationships, people interactions and service.
  • Hard measures validate processes such as sales purpose, expected meeting frequency and deliverables.

Other measures we include are re-use, recommendation, satisfaction, NPS and customer effort score.

How many interviews should we target?

There are two essential considerations in determining how many interviews to target.

The first is who you want to interview in your survey, the second is deciding the kind of people to interview. These people can range from key account customers, to customers who buy certain types of product or experience a particular type of service.

The next thing to decide is how many people you need to interview. Statistics experts say that a small, representative sample will reflect the group from which it is drawn. The larger the sample, the more precisely it reflects the target groups.

Understanding customer expectations

Customer expectations and requirements can be collected using a number of approaches. Qualitative research can be used to understand expectations and why customers require a specific level of service. These can be undertaken by telephone or one-to-one in depth interviews.

Focus groups are another method that gathers effective insight and understanding of expectations. Sometimes the most valuable data can be collected by posing the right questions and allowing a group to discuss it freely.

Breaking the data into different customer groups

Once we’ve gathered the data it needs to be presented in a clear and helpful way. Reviewing data across different segmentation groups helps organisations to understand what each group is saying and what actions should be taken from the research.

B2B research presents a great many challenges; complex requirements, expert insider knowledge and clients with very specific needs – there are plenty of possible pitfalls.

We put our years of experience into practice, with robust campaign development and a strong emphasis on customer needs and values, to produce effective B2B market research campaigns.

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