ANN ARBOR — The online customer satisfaction of business-to-business companies has improved, but continues to lag behind business-to-consumer companies, according to new survey results released by Ann Arbor-based ForeSee.

ForeSee released its annual Business-to-Business Benchmark Thursday, offering  customer satisfaction trends that allow B2B companies to determine how their web experience compares to industry averages.

ForeSee developed this benchmark with data from more than 15,500 surveys in which customers shared insights on their experiences with 33 B2B websites.

Overall, the average customer satisfaction with B2B websites is at 64 on ForeSee’s 100-point scale, representing the industry measurement against which B2B companies can measure their own online customer satisfaction. With ForeSee’s methodology, scores of 80 and higher are classified as “highly satisfied,” while scores of 69 and lower are considered “less satisfied.” The B2B industry average score of 64 indicates that business customers are generally less satisfied with the online experiences that B2Bs provide and that industry-wide improvement is critical.

ForeSee’s technology is founded on a scientific methodology that has demonstrated a strong relationship between customer satisfaction and a company’s financial future. Essentially, when customer satisfaction is scientifically measured, it can be used to predict key outcomes such as future purchase, recommendations and loyalty.

“While working with ForeSee to measure our customers’ experience, we have learned valuable lessons about how our customers interact with and get information from our website,” said Sonia Shrank, head of marketing and communications for NuStep Inc. “The insights we receive from ForeSee’s web measure have been crucial to obtaining insight, pinpointing issues, and identifying potential solutions. It has ultimately led to a highly satisfactory experience for our customers.”

While customer satisfaction with B2B companies improved from 62 to 64 since last measured in June 2012, the industry continues to lag behind Business-to-Customer (B2C) companies by nine percent in terms of satisfaction.

Satisfaction scores for individual B2B companies included in the benchmark range from a low of 26 to a high of 86. This dynamic range in satisfaction illustrates that some companies are performing at an extremely high level and are being rewarded by their customers with a higher likelihood to recommend and return again, while lower-scoring companies are running the risk of alienating not only their existing customer base but future prospects as well.

ForeSee’s benchmark provides insights into the value of a highly satisfied customer (those who rated their satisfaction at 80 or higher) by comparing their likely future behaviors to those of less-satisfied customers (with satisfaction below 70). Based on likelihood scores, highly satisfied customers report being:
* 67 percent more likely than less-satisfied customers to return to the site, which means higher frequency of interaction, improved engagement and increased share of mind and wallet.
* 79 percent more likely to purchase next time, which means increased sales.
* 133 percent more likely to recommend the company, which means more business and increased loyalty.

The ForeSee B2B benchmark includes customer satisfaction scores for companies including Cummins, Eaton, Emerson Network Power, Gale-Cengage, HNI Enterprise, MSC Industrial Supply, Praxair, ProQuest and Scholastic.

“Looking at the industry average score, there is clearly some work to be done in the B2B space, but it’s important to acknowledge that many organizations are ahead of the game and are providing their customers with a highly satisfactory experience,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. “Those who are lagging should answer the charge, take steps to focus on what elements are most important to customers and make improvements that will have the greatest impact on improving the customer experience.”

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