When we were writing our book on business-to-business customer satisfaction surveys, Howard Plomann and I also researched the key benchmarks. The four key criteria we uncovered for the most successful (profitable) B2B customer satisfaction surveys are: –

1. A high response rate to the survey.
B2B organisations don’t have thousands of customers.
The benchmark is ~70%

2. Posing lots of questions
There is a need to drill down into the detail of the relationship.
The benchmark is a survey with 62 questions and statements

3. Fully attributed feedback
Knowing who said what is vital in B2B because each customer is different.
Members of the Market Research Society and ESOMAR are not allowed to provide this.

4. Help with interpreting the results to gain commercial benefit
Without an action plan the survey is a waste of time and effort.
The benchmark is a project with a 10:1 ROI guarantee.

So we then conducted a quick opinion poll of senior B2B executives to find out which of the four criteria was the most important one to them when they were considering a satisfaction survey.
Their responses are as follows: –

  • 46% said that above all else they wanted expert help in prioritising the outcomes of the survey – having actionable feedback and a prioritised To Do List which will give them a significant competitive advantage.
  • 32% said that, for them, the most important issue was having attributed feedback. In business to business, where people buy from people and each customer is different, they said that they needed to know who said what.
  • 22% of the senior executives told us that their primary concern was having a high response rate. They said that they didn’t have thousands of customers, and that knowing InfoQuest has an average worldwide response rate of over 70% gave them peace of mind.


Not one of the respondents said that they were looking to pose lots of questions and statements.

We work from a price list, and have four different sizes of survey, based on the number of boxes we send out. The smallest survey is 60 boxes. We call it the Entry Level Program or ELP for short. It doesn’t offer the 10:1 ROI guarantee, nor does it come with the full-day, post-survey senior team workshop included in the price. And our neural network ProfitMax programme only works where there are a minimum of 100 responses from customers that can be described as ‘similar’, so that isn’t included either.

At the top end of our price list is a 250-box survey. It has all of our available features, and clients can add to the size of it (our largest yet was a 3,200 box survey in 23 languages).

The ELP survey comes with 32 cards included (i.e. 32 questions and statements) plus the two open questions we always ask. But the vast majority of our clients, no matter which size survey they choose, opt to maximise the number of questions being posed – the maximum by the way is 60 cards which really does take around five minutes to complete; any more and there is a risk that our 70+% response rate might be compromised. Our clients say that they want to drill down, by posing lots of questions, to better understand as many of the aspects of their relationships as possible.

We were therefore surprised that no-one chose ‘posing lots of questions’ as their number one priority.

So we did some more analysis.

And what we think has happened is that our respondents have fallen into two camps.

Those that know us, and are familiar with InfoQuest, are taking lots of questions for granted.

And those that aren’t familiar with InfoQuest fall into two sub-groups. There are those who believe the received wisdom that customers will be put off by lots of questions. And there are those that have been influenced by the NPS thinking – Fred Reichheld’s theory that you only need to ask one question (which we’ve proved doesn’t work in a B2B relationship survey).

Talking of Fred, here is a direct quote from his website: –

“If you can convince a customer to spend time answering dozens of questions, you can predict that customer’s behavior more accurately than you can with one question. The problem is, most customers in this busy world won’t give you that much time – witness typical survey response rates from 2% to 20% – and you couldn’t afford the surveying and data processing expense if they did.
In B2B the problem is even thornier, because the senior execs who drive purchase decisions are the least likely to tolerate lengthy surveys”

So there you have it. Which is most important for you and your organisation?