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Is NPS not working for your B2B? It's time for a new CXM tool

There is something captivating about a score; it presents complex data in the simplest form. In business, no score carries weight quite like the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a widely acknowledged metric to gauge customer loyalty and satisfaction. Although predominantly leveraged in the B2C (Business-to-Consumer) sphere, its effectiveness in B2B (Business-to-Business) remains a topic of debate.

Sure, a retail company will ask their customers how likely will they recommend their product to another person, but an insurance firm wouldn't just ask $200k client the same and leave it at that.

a keyboard with smiley, neutral, and sad face to represent the NPS tool

What is Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

Initially developed by Fred Reichheld, the Net Promoter Score is a potent indicator of customer advocacy. It gauges the propensity of customers to endorse a firm's offerings to others, calculated on a scale of zero to ten, which juxtaposes their likelihood to recommend a product or service to a friend or colleague. The respondents are then divided into three categories: Promoters (score 9-10), Passives (score 7-8), and Detractors (score 0-6). In other words, it measures customer loyalty by looking at their likelihood to recommend the business to other potential customers.

Here's how a huge international e-commerce company asks its customers to rate their likelihood of recommending them to others through NPS:

An example of a an NPS Survey

Analyzing the Limitations of NPS

Although NPS is widely used in B2C environments, it has limitations. Its reliance on a single question to gauge customer loyalty can provide a quick snapshot of customer satisfaction, but it does not capture the complexities of the customer experience. Also, since NPS is sent to all customers regardless of demography, results may be skewed as loyal and repeat customers may respond differently from new or infrequent customers. 

NPS only gives surface-level insights and can’t predict revenue events like churn, upsell, and price erosion.“

In B2B, NPS is increasingly being utilized to gauge the strength of relationships between companies and their clients, but the application of NPS has become more complicated and somewhat flawed. One of the palpable hindrances is the complicated decision-making process in B2B transactions, which often involves multiple stakeholders and multifaceted relationships between them. 

Consequently, capturing the overarching sentiment of the organization becomes a challenge as B2B clients have more at stake in their partnerships as these relationships directly impact their own business outcomes. Moreover, B2B dealings are relational rather than transactional, sales cycles are typically longer and include multiple touchpoints and interactions. This complex journey renders NPS less effective in capturing sentiment at every stage of the customer journey and struggles to encapsulate the nuances and depth of these relationships fully.

Net Promoter has its place, but it is subservient to the need for a bigger relationship assessment.

Lastly, benchmarking B2B NPS scores against industry standards is a formidable task due to scanty data availability. It is important to consider the unique challenges of the B2B sector. Unlike B2C companies, B2B companies often have fewer customers but higher revenue per customer. This means that each customer's opinion carries more weight and can significantly impact the overall NPS score, thus making B2B companies face difficulties in gauging their relative performance and making it difficult to develop a strategic improvement plan.

Limitations of NPS in B2B


Complex Decision-Making

Difficult to gauge the sentiment of the entire organization

Long Sales Cycles

Fails to capture the sentiment throughout the customer journey

Transactional vs. Trusted Advisor

Inadequate in capturing the depth of B2B client relationships

Limited Benchmarking

Lack of data for comparison with industry standards

Will this limitation impede the use of NPS in the B2B sector? Perhaps the solution lies in a better customer experience management tool. 

Advocating for a Better CXM Tool for B2B

If NPS has glaring limitations in gauging B2B relationships, then a more comprehensive customer experience management tool is needed. B2B organizations desperately need a feedback mechanism that captures how the company is perceived by its stakeholders, going beyond the respondents of a single survey.

As such, a one-size-fits-all approach won't capture the full spectrum of customer feedback in a B2B context. B2B companies often harbor unique requirements and as such require a tool that allows for customization to meet their specific business needs. An ideal CXM tool should adapt to B2B complexities.

Integration with Customer Experience Management (CXM) systems is another crucial prerequisite for an effective B2B tool. Given the prolonged sales cycles in B2B, tracking customer sentiment efficiently throughout the customer lifecycle necessitates CRM integration.

Plus, B2B companies can benefit greatly from advanced analytics and predictive modeling. Mitigating issues actionable insights are available by anticipating customer or client preferences and identifying potential issues.

Finally, B2B CXM tools should not neglect relationship management in favor of transactional data. They should equip businesses to nurture and solidify long-term customer relationships, which sit at the heart of B2B engagements.

By investing in a better CXM tool, B2B companies can stay ahead of the competition, build stronger customer relationships, and ultimately, drive long-term success.

Emerging Trends and Potential Solutions in B2B CXM Tools

Several alternatives and advancements are beginning to shape the landscape of B2B CXM tools. At the forefront is Artificial Intelligence (AI) which is empowering the analysis of NPS data and identifying trends, patterns, and sentiments in large datasets. AI-driven analysis enables businesses to reap deeper insights and base their decisions on concrete data.

The advent of predictive analytics is another game-changer, forecasting customer behavior and spotting potential promoters and detractors in the B2B sector. This pre-emptive approach helps businesses to handle client concerns proactively, thereby improving satisfaction, and strengthening customer relationships.

For example, Encompass-CX gives organizations a bird's eye view of the relationship between each client and their account managers. What clients are not as satisfied with your services? Why does the 3rd highest paying client feel ignored by their sales manager? What training can the leaders provide for their team to increase their earned sales equity?

Encompass-CX as a CXM tool showing its dashboards

Customer Experience Management tools are also now being integrated with CRM specifically with the Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs. Amassing feedback from varied channels and touchpoints can gain a more holistic image of the relationship between stakeholders and tailor their offerings to meet specific customer needs. B2B NPS tools also include real-time feedback mechanisms allowing timely capture of customer sentiment at different stages of the journey enabling them to address issues immediately.

Efforts are well underway to establish industry-specific NPS benchmarks in the B2B space, which would enable businesses to compare their standing against peers and highlight areas for improvement within the scope of their type of business.

A Better CXM Tool for B2B than NPS

While NPS continues to be a cornerstone of customer satisfaction and loyalty measurement in B2C, its application in B2B remains a challenge. Perhaps it's time to look beyond that dot in a statistical graph. It's time truly understand what your clients think of your business. Move from having a Transactional relationship with them and be their Trusted Advisor.

With Encompass-CX you can capture comprehensive feedback, customize solutions for each client, integrate our system with your CRM, provide advanced analytics to reduce churn rates, and close gaps with your B2B clients.

Ready to take the next step in understanding your client relationships and increasing your revenue? Sign up for a FREE trial here!

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