The Devil in the Detail: Objectives of B2B Mystery Shopping
B2B Mystery Shops often have the same recurring objectives, but not all objectives are created equal. For example, price is an important component that a customer considers when purchasing a product or service but it is not necessarily the most important. Very often, it is the human component that determines which competitor a customer will decide to deal with.
Looking back at more than twenty years of experience in B2B market research, here are my list of the six most important factor that determine how a company wins a customer’s business, from least important to most important, from the least important to the most important. Success in B2B mystery shopping is knowing the devil in the detail.
This should not be a surprise. An informed customer should already know the price ranges for the product or services being sought, and likely already has a budget already prepared for the purchase. In a B2B environment, it is unlikely that a vendor would be willing to make deep discounts in pricing in order to win one customer: that may create a “slippery slope” of frequent discounts, so that a discounted price becomes the regular price.
5. Technological Innovation
This is in the “nice to have” category. I would say that customers assume that a vendor uses the most up-to-date technology and that the vendor is continuously looking to upgrade their technology to keep up with changing market demands. Yes, the vendor should demonstrate that they have technology to meet the needs of the customer, but they should not rely on technology alone to win the customer’s business.
4. Ease of Use
This is an important factor in winning a new customer. The vendor must demonstrate that the product is easy to use, can be customized to meet the current and future needs of the customer, including scalability along with updates on the product to meet market demands.
3. Customer Onboarding
This is an important part of the Customer Experience. The vendor must demonstrate a willingness to provide training and support to the customer’s personnel when implementing the product or service, as well as training and support for any future enhancements in the product or service. The vendor must clearly demonstrate what actions need to be taken and what is the estimated time of implementation.
2. Live Demo
A live demo of the product or service should be used to demonstrate technological innovation, ease of use and an overview of customer onboarding – in other words, points 3, 4 and 5 described above. It also provides the vendor the opportunity to address any questions or concerns the vendor may have regarding the product/service.
1. Personal Contact
From the time the customer first contacts the vendor, personal contact will be the key to success. A vendor’s willingness and ability to follow-up on the initial contact, to demonstrating the product’s capabilities, the onboarding process, the live demo, responses to customer questions, and the follow-up contacts after the demo – all these contribute significantly to winning the customer’s confidence, loyalty and business. But the most important factor is the personal contact that establishes a rapport with customer. This is what changes a customer into a partner.
Success in B2B mystery shopping is knowing the devil in the detail.
Enrico Codogno, Principal Consultant
Customer Foresight Group, Limited