Satisfaction is not enough and the ecosystem experience

Trapped or free ? Are the customers buying and returning because of habits or by lack of choice ? Why are they not interested in more products ? They may enjoy the interaction with the marketplace and ultimately with the seller but did they gain anything else than an exchange of valuables for a product ?

What is satisfaction anyway?

Most surveys towards active customers are centered on overall customer satisfaction about the marketplace environment and the related buying experience. Tools like Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), Customer Effort Score (CES) or Advocacy Index are providing the core metric of satisfaction. And we all know that happy customers do buy more.

While it is critical to understand the level of satisfaction of the customer base –and it is a certain self-gratification exercise-, it misses identifying the core reasons for the customer transaction and of returning among others. 

In particular, it fails on understanding the customer and his marketplace transactions on three fronts.

  • In case of options, are you the ‘choice #1’ or the first choice ? Given alternatives, and any marketplace definitely has a few, will the customer pick your offering first, above your competitors ? Or are you their third choice, and the first two choices go to two competitors who gain the first two shots at controlling demand. And we are not taking about search order appearances here, but customer mental reflexes and biased preferences, for selecting a supplier or a product offering.
  • Share of mind : solid satisfaction score and happy loyal customer feedback does not mean you have automatic wallet share or mindshare. Consciously or not from the customer’s mind, you are getting only a fraction of the basket or the share of wallet. Customer is measured as happy and loyal, but you only get 10% of wallet share while your competitors get way more. And yet you believe seeing the scores that your offering is sticky, that your customers are happy (and they surely are), but it could well be out of purchase habits or out of purchase actions of what is considered as non-strategic. 
  • Point in time and competitive position : surveys are a snapshot taken at a point in time and you may be happy with the evolution of the cust sat score over time. But this is blinding you to the fact that your competitor has a higher score, is able to sell more for more value perceived and is believed to have more value added.

The complication of ecosystems

Having an active ecosystem in place and driving the right activities is surely one of the undocumented value of your partners’ network. 

Not only can your partner ecosystem amplify the presence and the reach of your offering, but it should also complement and enhance the value proposition of your offering. If you have a solid marketplace in place, you surely don’t need significant help on the transaction side, but any integrator or influencer for example in your ecosystem can contribute to expanding your share of mind. 

This undocumented value of the ecosystem can surface and be leveraged when

  • adding new entrance to the customer decision or recommendation process : you get more insert points into early demand signals, assessment stages, recommendation by experts or purchase reflexes
  • by expanding on the relevancy or the value perceived of your offering : the ecosystem adds either a value-based component to the offering, f.e. cloud options to software products or services onto cloud offers, or adds an intangible benefit, f.e. a similar experience, an unknown financial benefit or an expert point of view
  • adding ongoing presence in the customer reflections and decision process :  your existing contact points are re-inforced and re-assured towards your offering, gaining first choice status

Relevance and loyalty

A solid satisfaction score is usually a reflection of a certain customer loyalty indication and of the propensity to buy, misleading providers in a false sense of customer comfort. It usually comes short in terms of assessing the true customer preference and wallet share. With the appropriate programs in place, the partner ecosystem can complement and provide more complete insights.

At Partner.Cafe, we are using a marketplace assessment model for both the owner and the user of Marketplaces. The model relies on the “five Rs” criteria of Reach, Relevance, Revenue, Return rate and last but not least Real ease of use.  Combining this with Net Promoter Score, customer satisfaction survey feedback and with buyer’s profile allows us to plan and execute tailor-made campaigns for customer or partner acquisition, retention and expansion. 

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