Imagine your significant other wants to know what you think of your relationship. Do you still love your significant other? Are you committed to the relationship? Are there any issues you want to bring up?

Now imagine that your significant other sends you an online survey with five rating questions and a comment field … I am guessing you’d be unamused — rightfully so. Common sense says that for something as important as your relationship, you two should sit down and have a heart-to-heart about this.

Current B2B Feedback Experiences Risk Jeopardizing Client Relationships

Why do we throw this common sense out of the window when it comes to collecting feedback from our B2B customers? B2B firms — especially those that serve large, complex businesses with hundreds of client contacts — work so hard to build close relationships with their client contacts.

Yet the practices many B2B firms use to collect feedback and measure customer experience (CX) create negative feedback experiences that undermine these relationships. Feedback collection feels impersonal, untargeted, and selfish to clients when their B2B vendors:

  • Send online surveys to collect feedback. That’s because online surveys make it easier to collect quantitative metrics that an organization can aggregate and report.
  • Send the survey to all contacts they have in their systems. That’s because their organizations want to collect feedback from as many people as possible. But that also means that the firm isn’t able to verify if those contacts are still in their roles or what exactly the role of each contact is.
  • Forget to prove that they did something with the client feedback.

Amdocs’ VoC Program Is Designed To Strengthen Client Relationships

Amdocs provides software and services to more than 350 telecommunications and media service providers. It is a global firm that operates in over 85 countries. I think of Amdocs as a firm that powers connectivity and enables binge-watching.

At Amdocs, I talked to Tzachi Ben-Sasson, who is an organizational psychologist and head of global voice of the customer (VoC). The Amdocs VoC team includes Tzachi, Howard Abrams, and Stefan Kerner.

Tzachi and team faced two challenges for Amdocs’ VoC program:

  • Amdocs has hundreds of customers, not thousands or millions, which means it must make sure to understand the quality of the experience of every client account. As Tzachi put it, “Each and every account is worth a lot for us, and the relationships are very long-term. Amdocs has been around for almost 40 years, and most of its customers have been there that long.”
  • With each client, hundreds of people on both Amdocs and the client side interface with each other. Often, Amdocs employees and the employees of their clients are even co-located.

To address these challenges, Tzachi and team developed an approach for collecting feedback that differs in three important ways from common practices.

1) Match The Depth Of The Relationship And The Feedback-Collection Approach

To ensure that their feedback collection lives up to the kind of relationship that Amdocs has with its clients, the firm:

  • Co-creates a list of people to include with the client. The client gets to weigh in on who Amdocs should hear from to get a good picture of the quality of the customer experience across the various contacts at the client firm. Based on a list of contacts and an organizational chart, the business executive in charge of the account consults with the customer on who to include.
  • Uses different feedback collection mechanisms depending on the contact. For decision-makers at their client companies — including C-level, VP-level, and director-level — Tzachi and team arrange face-to-face meetings. Over 53% of the feedback is obtained via face-to-face interviews. (In fact, before COVID, Tzachi and team used to travel the world to take those meetings, but now, virtual meetings have become more common). To the remaining mid-management contacts, the team sends an online survey. But because it gives the client contacts a heads up about the survey and asks the co-located Amdocs staff to help promote it, response rates for that web survey are well over 40%.

As Tzachi put it: “We make sure that we get feedback from all the stakeholders. And getting feedback means not just sending web surveys, which of course we do, too, but we know that the executives, the CEOs, the CTOs, CFOs, they’re not going to respond to web surveys.”

2) Create A Feedback Experience That Strengthens The Relationship

When collecting feedback, Tzachi and team do collect scores, but they strike a balance between measurement and conversation. They:

  • Collect scores when they talk to their customers. For example, the team will ask the client contacts about value, ease of doing business, quality, account management, and loyalty.
  • Don’t let metrics get in the way of having a meaningful conversation. These conversations — especially those with C-level executives — are critical because they help Amdocs understand what’s on the mind of those executives, what their future plans are for the firm, how they see Amdocs currently, and which role Amdocs can play in the future to deepen the relationship.

3) Close The Loop With Clients And Internally To Improve CX

Once they aggregate and analyze all feedback for an account, Tzachi and team ensure that they didn’t waste their client’s time:

  • Transparently share feedback analysis with clients. The VoC team equips business executives who manage the client accounts with a summary of the feedback from across the client account. The business executives then share that feedback with key client stakeholders as well as what Amdocs plans to do to double down on positives and work on opportunities.
  • Engage the Amdocs ecosystem to improve CX. Each quarter, Amdocs leadership receives a report that summarizes the feedback collected from accounts. In addition, Tzachi and team “slice-and-dice” the data for internal functions like the scoping team or HR. And when the VoC efforts uncover a systemic issue, the VoC team passes that on to business operations teams in the various business units.

Amdocs has been following this approach for a while now, so even their clients have caught on. As one CIO that Tzachi interviewed put it: “The experience is very different from what I have seen in the customer survey field. First, a face-to-face interview. Second, within 24 hours, an executive leader in the area of question emailed me, with a verification that they will take care of my concern. Third, they fixed it. Fourth, they came back to close the loop and verified in the next year’s survey.”

Forrester clients who want to discuss their organization’s feedback and CX measurement program can submit a request for an analyst call.