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B2B customer experience factors: understanding the relationship with SME customers – interim report

Harrington, T., Dibley, A. and Clark, M., (2015) B2B customer experience factors: understanding the relationship with SME customers – interim report. Report. Henley Centre for Customer Management

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As part of the 2014 programme, our members asked us to extend the research done in 2013 (“Measuring Customer Satisfaction And Understanding Customer Effort In A B2B Context” - Tony Harrington and Andrew Bryan) to incorporate the SME customer sector. This project was set up to explore customer experience factors in the SME segment and to address a number of questions:- What are the most important factors that contribute to the customer experience from both the supplier’s and the SME customer’s perspectives? From the customer’s perspective, what about the relationship with the supplier requires the ‘most’ or ‘least’ effort and what changes do customers suggest? Where a customer has both a personal and a business relationship with the supplier, how does this impact their views? The approach was to develop an online survey for completion by SME customers and their supplier. Initially, seven companies and the Henley SME Forum volunteered to participate in the research. However, it proved to be extremely difficult to go from agreement to be involved to actually getting survey responses and, in the event, the survey achieved the following result:- A good response was achieved from 2 companies with around 40 SME responses for each company. A poor response was achieved from 1 company and from the SME Group so their data is currently of limited value. There were other companies that would still like to participate and there are 3 offers to participate at a later date. Analysis of the responses showed that useful conclusions could be made from the data collected so far but that it would be more valuable if more companies were persuaded to participate in the future. As a result, this report has been prepared as an interim statement of what has been learnt and to provide specific feedback to the participating companies. With member’s permission, further responses will be sought at a later date to refine the learning and provide feedback to more companies. This report presents the results of analysis from the survey on a company-by-company basis. Most of the data is only relevant at company level but consolidated results are shown where possible. The results from the analysis of responses lead to a number of initial conclusions. SME companies look to their suppliers to deliver against their promises in a responsive, consistent and proactive manner. Their priority is to have their problems solved in a timely manner. Relationship factors are more important in the B2B relationships between large companies than for SME’s. The SME customer is much more interested in just having the service performed with a minimum of fuss and doesn’t really want to develop a relationship. Questions about customer effort (or the ease of doing business) are as valuable in the SME segment as in any other in terms of identifying opportunities for improvement. Businesses should consider whether their SME customers might also be a customer in their personal home life. If so, they should be aware that this will have an effect on their satisfaction – and could be either positive or negative.

Item Type:Report (Report)
Divisions:Henley Business School > Marketing and Reputation
ID Code:82308
Publisher:Henley Centre for Customer Management


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