A presentation on b2b customer loyalty research that turned up something more basic

Last night I attended an interesting presentation organised by the Business Intelligence Group, jointly given by Debbie Senior from Harris Interactive UK and Llinos Jonathan from Invensys Controls.  The business is a global provider of control gizmos to the heating, appliance, refrigeration and automotive industries.  The presentation was based on their last customer survey with business customers around the world and focused on measuring the levels and drivers of customer loyalty.

My main interest was to see how they measured, and therefore defined, ‘customer loyalty’ in this type of market.  The details were confidential, but a point they emphasised was that over the last six years they have progressively broadened what they cover.  At one time they focused purely on rational aspects of customer satisfaction.  But they now also cover emotional factors that relate to the perceived relationship that customers have with Invensis Controls, along with forward looking intentional measures.

When the presenters covered what use the company had made of the latest research results something popped up that was more of a surprise.  One of the findings was that the approach and performance of the account managers was ‘variable’.  As a consequence a new sales management and training regime was implemented.  As they went through some aspects of this I was taken back to sales training courses that I went on as a rookie graduate 35 years ago.  It appears that in some aspects of business not that much has always changed, despite the vast amounts of time and money that has been committed to business improvement over this time.

Arguably one conclusion that small businesses can take from this is that they should not assume that their larger competitors will always be more professional and effective than they can by.  It can be easy to loose sight of the basics of good practice, many of which were established decades ago – at least, in the hurly burly of targets, turf wars, egos and all the rest that can go on in large organisations.

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