Categories: Company News


Carolyn Sparano



How well do you know your B2B customers?

We’d like to politely suggest that you may not know your customers as well as you think you do. But, don’t worry, we’re always looking for ways to help you get to know them better.

What do B2B customers want?
It depends on who you ask.

After years of working with industrial manufacturers, we’ve found that B2B eCommerce projects typically fall into two categories. Those categories are defined by which department is driving the project.

When projects are driven by IT or Customer Service, our clients tell us:

 “Our customers are professional B2B buyers. They know our products so well that they don’t need a full-blown eCommerce catalog. They don’t want to browse and shop the way B2C customers do.”

But, when B2B eCommerce projects are driven by Marketing, we hear a completely different story:

“Our customers want to see product descriptions, photos and other rich content on our website. Even though they are professional B2B buyers, they still expect to have a high-quality B2C-like experience.”

So, who’s right? We’ve long suspected that they both are. Now, we’re collecting new kinds data, from new sources, that supports our theory.

Not all B2B buyers are the same. They don’t fit neatly into one monolithic buyer persona. Instead they exist in a spectrum. On one end, you have power users who want to place bulk orders with a .CSV upload. On the other end, you have first-time buyers who are completely new to your product, either because they’re a new hire at an existing customer or because they work for a company that just began purchasing from you.

So, when it comes to your B2B eCommerce site, who should you cater to?

What if we just ask the customer directly?

We do. From day one, we’ve used focus groups and surveys to gather feedback directly from our clients’ B2B customers.

In fact, Customer Focus Groups are a fundamental part of our implementation process. But, they’re limited by a small sample population that’s often hand-selected by our clients, so the data can skew towards the positive.

Online surveys, on the other hand, can skew in the other direction. For years, we’ve included a link to customer satisfaction surveys on our SAP integrated B2B eCommerce websites. But, those surveys can be lengthy and the most motivated respondents are often the most irritated customers.

So, if focus groups tend to skew positive and long format surveys tend to skew negative, where does that leave us? Or lead us?

Recently it’s led us to experiment with Pendo.

Pendo is not a customer focus group, and it’s not just a survey.  It’s yet another tool on our ongoing quest to help our clients understand their customers. A few months ago we introduced Pendo as a pilot program for analytical research purposes. Recently they’ve expanded to include NPS surveys. We thought we should expand too.

What’s an NPS survey? It’s a quick, one question survey installed directly on your site that captures feedback from your customers.

Here’s how it works: Once a customer has purchased your product, they will be asked, “Would you recommend this site to a friend or co-worker?” They’re also asked to score your site on a scale of 0-10. If they answer with a “10” that means the customer would 100% recommend your site. Answering with a “1” is the opposite – more along the lines of, “Heck no, I hated everything about my experience!” Customers fall into 3 categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.

Here’s what an NPS survey looks like:


B2C sites have been using this simple feedback tool for years. But, it’s been slower to come to the B2B world.

So, how did we implement NPS scoring in our B2B experiment? We ran a short test, on select sites, for just a few days. We weren’t looking for any specific answers, just general feedback. But, on day one, here’s what we heard:

  • “I don’t know your material numbers.”
  • “It takes too much time to find material on here. I don’t always know the correct material name.”
  • “It would be great to have the catalog info available while checking stock. Some of your competitor’s websites offer this.”
  • “Looking up parts is very cumbersome.”


In less than one day, we heard directly from B2B eCommerce users they need help ordering products. They want better search features and filters. And more.

The customer has spoken. Now what?

But, what’s an industrial mid-market manufacturer to do? We understand that you may not have the time or resources to develop all the rich content required for an online catalog. And that’s OK. We have a modular solution that can leverage everything that’s in your material master and make it easier to use on the web. And it can grow with you. In fact, it’s what we call the “crawl, walk, run” model:

  • Crawl – Customer Services first – launch as quickly as you can to all of your existing clients by giving them access to our SAP® eTrack service.  Whether they are EDI, phone, fax or email customers, they want to know if you have product available, what it’s priced at, and after they place their orders when they can expect to receive them. Liberate all of that information out of your SAP® system in 30 days and give your CSRs a break from those mind-numbing, resource sucking, non-value adding calls with your customers.
  • Walk – Inexpensive catalog – if you’re just getting started, aren’t feeling very ambitious, don’t have the funds or expertise, or just want to dip your toes in the B2B eCommerce waters, we’ll help you launch an entry level Magento solution in combination with our SAP® eCart and eTrack services.
  • Run – World class PIM and Catalog – if you’re ready for the big leagues we can enable your Marketing team to provide a true omnichannel experience for all of your worldwide customers while Corevist simplifies your integration to SAP®.

And all along that journey, we’ll be by your side, collecting feedback from your customers, in their own words.

We started with focus groups, to give your customers a voice at the table, then we added surveys. Now we’re experimenting with Pendo. And, we’re the early planning phases of a pilot program to test FullStory (but I’ll leave those details for another blog post).

Regardless of our method, our motivation is now and will always be the same: We want to help you understand and serve your customers in the best, most efficient way possible.

Contact us if you’re interested in finding out more.

About “Behind the Scenes”

As a fast-growing technology company, we’re faced with new opportunities and challenges almost every day. Our response to those events often creates interesting stories (certainly for us and we hope for you).

This series was created to capture and share a “backstage” look at the ways we’re working to scale the company, evolve our services, and respond to the demands of the marketplace. We hope that our customers, partners and friends find value in our efforts to be transparent.