This is the first edition in Wonderflow’s new interview series, which aspires to consult market experts in different sectors and industries, to talk about customer experience and consumer feedback analysis. This week we have Joost Niepoth, marketing professional.Joost is a marketing professional, with over 25 years of experience. He has worked on both the advertising agencies side as well as client side, with companies like IBM, KPN, TBWA, HTC, Exact, and The Ocean Cleanup. He has extensive experience with customer feedback in various cases.To what capacity have you used customer feedback?
I have used customer feedback as a tool to collect all kind of relevant consumer insights. I have used these insights from testing advertising concepts and value propositions to get a rating on services levels. In all cases it helped me to better align customer needs with characteristics of products and services I represented.When you were at HTC, you were one of the first customers to purchase the Wonderboard, what triggered you to learn more from customer feedback? Did you see customer feedback analysis as an alternative to traditional market research?
I am able to give 3 main reasons:
- An initial reason was my personal curiosity. I wondered if this new technology could add something and also help me grow as a professional
- The second reason was the capability of customer analytics to help with customer feedback at scale. To be able to reach a large number of customers is challenging for most companies. The costs associated to this are quite high and the process is labor intensive. These are hurdles for more traditional feedback methods.
- At HTC, the company I worked for at the time, we had very limited direct customer relations and contact. Products were sold through third parties (retailers) making it hard for us to source direct feedback from consumers. This was one of the reasons, we invested in the Wonderboard.
When conducting market research through reviewing customer analytics, should it be done daily or similarly to the traditional method, once-a-year?
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This very much depends on the market your company is in and the type of product or service you provide. To a large extend, this will determine the intensity and rhythm of you customer feedback loops. However, I strongly believe that the traditional method of once a year is not appropriate for any market. An example where I would recommend using customer feedback only quarterly or maybe twice a year, are mobile phone producers like HTC. This is due to the fact that consumers buy such a product once every 12 months at best,
But if you would look at a company like our National Railway (NS) , customer feedback on a much more frequent basis will be super valuable. Many of their customers make use of the ‘product’ every day, so if you do not organize a frequent feedback loop, the company wouldn’t receive actionable insights, but only a general notion of the customers’ perception of the company. As someone who follows the market quite closely, you see companies getting more and more interested in customer feedback, but what should they really do to become customer-centric? And is there a way that customer feedback can also be risky for a company?
Customer centricity cannot be defined in one sentence and can certainly not be reached by a single activity. I do believe in the basic expression, “actions speak louder than words”. If a company constantly has the customer at heart, it will create a reputation to be customer centric. A company like Coolblue does this very well. Being a loyal customer myself, I have constantly been impressed by their service and care for the customer.
I also see a risk with customer feedback. With social channels giving everybody a podium and especially unhappy customers tending to be very ‘loud’, a few disgruntled people can be perceived as representative. If companies act impulsively on that, this might cause insights based on bias.It is common that in some industries feedback is not widely used, which results in some companies struggling to obtain customer feedback. What do you reckon is the problem here?
I believe one challenge for most industries these days is the collection of data. One of the reasons for this, is the overkill of requests towards consumers asking for feedback. Within minutes you press the buy button, or had a conversation with a service agent, you receive a survey request. I start ignoring and blocking these requests more and more, and I know I am not the only one.
Another reason might be general culture of certain industry sectors. It could also relate to the history or the purpose of the product. For example, utility companies claim to be very customer orientated, but in reality they do not always have the best reputation. They genuinely try hard and are making progress, but the reality is that negative feedback often has less impact compared to other industry sectors. People always need gas and electricity and choices are limited.Do you believe customer feedback analysis to be relevant to B2B marketing? If so, how is it applicable?
Absolutely. Customer feedback is most definitely relevant within B2B marketing. Even stronger, it is essential! I believe all B2B marketing directors should consider customer feedback analysis as a priority if they don’t do so already. Not only will it help to optimize your product and services, it will also help to increase customer satisfaction. Happy customers will become ambassadors for you which is powerful, as reference cases are key in the sales cycle of any B2B company.What do you believe to be the biggest challenges with B2B marketing?
A big challenge in B2B is that there often is no strong alignment between marketing and sales departments. Sales speak to customers on a daily basis and are in a position to gather valuable feedback on a regular basis. There should be structured process to share this feedback with marketing, so they can adjust and optimize their programs to, for example, generate leads. Based on insights, not gut feel or passed experience alone. This will only happen if the two departments have a close relationship of co-operation.That’s it for today. Many thanks to Joost for his time and insights, and stay tuned for more interviews in this series. Get notified of new content by subscribing to our newsletter.