Editor’s note: Sascha Eder is CEO at market research firm NewtonX, New York. 

B2B customer sentiment analysis plays a key role in the success of your business. Understanding what customers think and what they want will help you improve your product and operations, prioritize investments, enhance marketing and sales programs, and better respond to competitors. Conducting this kind of market research isn’t easy. These tips will help you better understand the voice of the customer and drivers of customer satisfaction.

Existing customers can give you limited customer feedback when it comes to customer sentiment analysis. You also need to talk to former customers to understand why some are no longer buying. A competitor’s customer can tell you why they didn’t choose you. Potential customers can provide insights into unmet needs that can close a deal. Get a complete voice of the customer perspective by including each of these customer groups.

Relying on a few customer interviews and reviews or a focus group does not give you a complete and statistically reliable picture of customer sentiment. A survey alone doesn’t give you an in-depth understanding of the drivers behind the statistics you gather. Consider starting with qualitative research to understand context, follow with a large quantitative study, then wrap with a deep-dive second qualitative study to explore the meaning of the findings. 

3. Don’t rely solely on feedback from your sales team.

While customer-facing employees provide a valuable perspective, it is likely a biased one. Invariably, you will hear that your prices are too high or that you need more features to compete. Salespeople may not want to talk about mistakes they made in providing customer service. The voice of the customer filtered through the voice of the sales rep can be distorted.

4. Be aware that customer review feedback is biased and limited.

Anecdotal ...