In a recent Finances Online article, enhancing feedback capabilities were identified as a key improvement area for business-to-business companies. The article cited an Accenture study that captured five areas B2B companies should focus on when soliciting feedback.
For channel marketers, this type of feedback can provide insights into program effectiveness. Let’s take a look at the five areas from the perspective of a channel marketing program and how they can be applied to a brand’s relationship with its channel partners and help drive desired outcomes.
1. Collect Channel Partner Feedback
A good starting point for gathering and acting on feedback is ensuring you can collect input from one of your most valuable customers … your channel partners. Channel marketers should ensure their channel partners can easily provide their feedback. This can be as simple as a designated email address that is included in all brand-to-channel partner communications.
Some channel program providers, like Channel Fusion, provide their clients’ channel partners with a variety of support communications channels. From phone to text and email to chat, these systems can also be leveraged to gather feedback, including real-time customer satisfaction scores. In some cases, these communications tools are integrated with artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions, providing sentiment and other valuable insights related to the feedback channel partners are sharing.
2. Document Feedback and Follow-ups
With feedback collection in place, brands need to establish a process for documenting and reporting the feedback they are receiving from channel partners. Channel marketers should consider identifying feedback themes or categories they would like to track or monitor. These should be part of an annual strategic planning process, ensuring partner feedback is being considered when developing quarterly, semi-annual or annual plans, for example.
Having themes or categories in place allows channel marketers to organize partner feedback accordingly and determine if adjustments to the themes or categories need to be made from one year to another during strategic planning. This type of check and balance will serve a couple of primary objectives. One is ensuring that the themes or categories are consciously evaluated as part of the strategic planning process and the other is making appropriate adjustments, as needed, as market conditions or priorities change. Ultimately, documenting partner feedback and analyzing it in a predefined manner may provide key insights and inform a channel program’s strategic objectives.
3. Route Feedback to the Right Decision-makers
From a more tactical perspective, partner feedback, organized in themes or categories, should be shared regularly with the appropriate decision-makers within a brand’s channel marketing team as well as with other key stakeholders within the company. Similar to including feedback in the strategic planning process for a channel program, establishing a frequency and delivery method (report, email, document, etc.) for channel partner feedback will ensure feedback is being evaluated, considered and acted upon, when appropriate throughout the year.
In addition, routing feedback in an organized manner that matches established themes or categories will allow decision-makers and stakeholders to develop action plans for addressing problems surfaced by channel partners and do so promptly. Once a problem is addressed, a corresponding method for routing what has been done to address a problem should be defined so channel partners know their voices are being heard.
4. Capture and Share Learnings from Feedback
Receiving feedback from channel partners always provides an opportunity for applying learnings and impacting a company’s channel program. Much like acting on primary or secondary research, organizing feedback from a brand’s channel partners and routing it to the appropriate decision-makers and stakeholders in a timely manner is important.
Historically, some companies conduct research and then spend too much time in analysis paralysis instead of taking immediate and appropriate action steps. Similarly, brands should have a plan for sharing channel partner feedback promptly to ensure valuable insights and recommendations are enacted to improve a company’s channel program.
5. Identify Opportunities for Innovation That Can Add Value
Gathering, documenting and sharing channel partner feedback can play another important part in a brand’s channel program. Feedback captured can also be considered a voice of customer input and be used to inform enhancements and other innovations within a channel program.
Whether it’s a feature that could be added to a channel program technology solution or an innovative way to look at SPIFFs or incentives, for example, organized and actionable channel partner feedback should be a data point that informs your channel program roadmap.
A continuous customer feedback loop is important for any business. For brands that rely on channel partners to sell their products and services, it’s critical to ensure an established process is in place for capturing, reporting, sharing and acting on the valuable data points being shared from the point of sale. Be sure to consider these five areas when thinking about how your channel program can leverage your channel partners’ feedback.
About Channel Fusion
For more than 20 years, Channel Fusion has been delivering strategy, customer experience and return on investment outcomes for brands and their channel partners with a wide variety of solutions and industry expertise. We continue to invest in the overall ecosystem of our channel marketing offering to ensure our clients can provide their channel partners with an optimal customer experience to drive results. Our core technologies and connected platform are supported by a team of customer-centric “Fusers.” Let us know if you’d like to learn more about how we deliver desired outcomes for brands and their channel partners.