In a world where customer expectations are continually evolving, businesses must recognize the critical role that strong customer relations play in driving success. Beyond simply providing products or services, forging meaningful relations with customers is key to sustaining growth and gaining a competitive edge. As a company, you should expect that conducting professional customer surveys will yield a positive return on investment in a number of dimensions as illustrated below.
In this blog, we will explore how strengthening your customer relations can significantly impact your company through increased business and pave the way for long-term success.
First, let’s take a look at the elementary dynamics in play. To narrow the scope, let’s examine a B2B context.
customer experience affects the customer relationship
Normally, you could argue that if you are able to deliver great customer experiences (e.g., the combination of a good product, an easy process and great people service), that should lead to a stronger relationship between you and the customer.
If you have a strong relationship in combination with a great experience, you would also assume this would have a positive effect not only on customer loyalty, but also on intention to further grow the business in the future and ultimately the share of business.
The “relationship stairs” framework (the figure below) is one that Ennova often uses when working with customers operating in the B2B segment. It ranks how customers see the strength of their relationship with the company and serves as a powerful way to understand how close you really are to your customers.
By benchmarking against our database of more than 500,000 answers, you get strong insights on whether your relations profile is challenged or outperforming norms.
A real-life case example
Let’s take a look at a real-life example through an anonymized case from our client base. The interesting part here is that we see similar findings among most of our clients – obviously, in different magnitudes and with different challenges. Whereas the potential among all companies is crystal clear, the ability to reap the benefits is closely correlated with the individual company’s ability to establish simple and effective processes where they can act on relevant insights and turn these insights into tangible actions on strategic, tactical and operational levels.
Taking point of departure in our depicted framework, this company is a B2B company that has been working professionally with Customer Experience over the past three years. Initially, the company was at the better end of “average” Customer Experience performance but has been able to improve its performance year after year.
Case results: the ROI of having happy customers
When we examine the numbers from the anonymized customer case, the results from our cooperation are:
- Clear evidence that great customer experiences result in stronger relations with customers. This is apparent when we look at the average CX score in each step of the relationship ladder and do deep dives on selected business metrics such as customer lifetime, number of referrals, etc.
- The better the customer experience you are able to deliver, the stronger customers characterize their relationship with the company. If customers characterize the relationship with your company as “no relation” or “work relation,” this is typically where your services can be replaced relatively easy by good alternatives. Your competitors have similar offerings, and there is no additional glue, e.g., in the form of value-adding human interactions. In the opposite situation when customers characterize the relation as a “trusted partnership,” we typically see proactive recommendations, co-creation activities, etc., in addition to a long-lasting customer relationship.
- A stronger relationship between customers and the company materializes in more customers being willing to invest in increased business over the next 12 months. Our experience is that a company that can improve the relationship from a weak relationship to a strong one will on average increase business by 30–50% within a period of two years.
- Stronger relations between customers and the company result in an average share of business that increases significantly with each step of the relationship ladder.
- Last, but not least, the results and conclusions in this example are in no way unique. On the contrary. In more than 80% of client cases, we are able to establish similar conclusions and thereby pave the way to building a good business case where working systematically on improving your Customer Experience really pays off and where strengthening customer relations is indeed a catalyst for business growth.
how do you ensure a positive ROI on your CX investments?
Ensuring a positive ROI on your CX investments can be achieved in different ways. However, one way to get started is to take a proven framework as your starting point and start small-scale by following the three simple steps below or taking inspiration from the following video:
- Quantify your financial business value at risk.
- Identify which customers are potential churners.
- Understand what you should do about it by understanding your drivers of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
Regardless of which approach you follow or which framework you apply, you should always insist that your investments deliver a positive ROI and contribute to business by protecting revenue and growing sales.
ask the most important questions in your customer survey
Download the guide here, and get the 7 most important questions you always should include in your customer survey to get the insights you need to improve your customer experience.