New Heights Research announced the results of a study focusing on the customer listening practices and goals of middle-market companies. While much is known about how large firms manage customer relationships, the way smaller businesses conduct these activities is not as well studied. The nationwide, 175-participant survey included respondents in manufacturing, distribution, and service verticals.
“The study’s main aims included understanding if, why, and how these companies gathered customer feedback on their own performance and whether the pandemic had affected these activities,” said Bert Smyers, Managing Partner at New Heights. “For these mid-sized companies, building lasting relationships was key,” he added, “more than finding new opportunities for sales.”
For many participants, the COVID-19 shutdowns created an opportunity to strengthen relationships with customers, even as regular business spending slowed or was delayed. “We’re seeing opportunities instead of obstacles,” said one Midwestern manufacturer. “And the reason is people are more apt to be talkative. They want to be engaged about this experience. We found that we’re able to capitalize more on the relationship-building side because they feel like they know us better.”
Key insights include:
- 93% of surveyed companies feel that getting customer feedback is highly important…
- … but only 29% felt they understood their customers’ feedback “extremely well.”
- Companies with formal active customer listening programs were almost three times more likely to have an “extremely good” understanding of their customers’ feedback than those without a program.
- A heightened sense of intimacy due to COVID-19 may allow for deep customer relationships to form, despite a drop-off in raw spending due to the lockdowns.
- Respondents that used outside consultants for customer listening activities were more satisfied with their results than those that did not.
About New Heights Research
New Heights Research is a boutique market research and consulting firm specializing in the U.S. middle market (companies with $10 million -$150 million in revenue). New Heights utilizes a mixed-method quantitative and qualitative approach. They serve the private equity community with deal-related due diligence and the corporate community with their customer relationship research needs. Voice-of-the-customer research is one of their specializations.
William Weaver, Senior Consultant
Bert Smyers, Managing Partner
Source: New Heights Research