2. Personalise All Your Interactions
We've mentioned brand personality, leading us naturally onto the next step - creating a connection.
If your B2B customers love your brand and feel that they resonate with your values, aims and purpose, they're far more likely to stay with you.
Every interaction you have, whether a phone call, email marketing, sending invoices or receiving a new order, should make your customer feel that their business is valued and they're not one of a thousand clients.
There are multiple ways to achieve this level of bespoke communications, and it doesn't necessarily mean you need to have a designated account manager for every customer (although that's also an option!). You can:
- Create loyalty programmes to give free perks or discounts to acknowledge repeat orders.
- Customise emails to address your customer personally.
- Set up auto-responders online to respond when your customer actions something on their online account or clicks on a CTA.
- Follow up, see how they're getting on, and ask for feedback if you've recently closed a sale.
A customer who is valued, respected, and appreciated, whenever they deal with your company, will be hard-pressed to go elsewhere.
3. Pay Attention to Onboarding
Whether you call it a welcome series, onboarding or client education, the honeymoon period after a first sale is a crucial time when you add a little secret sauce to make the experience memorable.
New customers are perhaps the most fragile - they don't know you yet, they're new to your products or services, and need a boost to feel confident that they've made an excellent buying decision.
Options include things like:
- Welcome emails introducing your support structure or team.
- Video tutorials, on-demand webinars or direct support learning about your service.
- Case studies to educate customers about how other businesses leverage their trading relationship with you to achieve good results.
- Pointers about where to find help and the resources you have on offer.
Selling a product that has technical aspects or works in a specific way without this onboarding approach is a key factor that leads to customer churn and perhaps frustration if they perceive that whatever they've bought isn't as amazing as they'd hoped.
4. Don't Let a Customer Fade to the Background
When you've had a customer account for a long time, you might feel a sense of assurance that they're happy, but it pays dividends to reach out now and again.
Checking in with a customer only when they'd made an enquiry, or only if there's a problem, is never a good call.
If any of the below have occurred, it's time to get in touch, see how things are going, and ask if there are any requirements you can help with:
- The client hasn't placed an order for a whole.
- Usage is slowing down (you need to get in well before it stops altogether!).
- Your client has cancelled an order or visited cancellation pages online.
- They're less engaged than usual or haven't logged in for ages.
Any of these might be a sign that they're having a quiet period or could indicate that they're considering moving on or have an issue with a product they haven't sought assistance with.
Making the time to initiate contact and inviting your customer to discuss any reservations can be a contract-saver.
5. Invite Customers to be Part of a Community
The business space can be highly competitive, but at the heart of any enterprise are people passionate about the products or services they provide.
Starting a community is a way to engage with customers on their terms and add another perk to their transactions.
You can create community B2B groups through forums, social media, private networking sites or any other media that makes sense.
When you create an interface of this nature, you can answer questions, respond to feedback, deliver free quality content, and provide bonuses like sneak peeks into new product concepts.
Around 55% of businesses report that a sense of community leads to boosts in sales, and it's an additional way to foster that dialogue and 1:1 connection you're striving for.
Selling in a market that appeals to newer businesses? Why not have an 'Ask a Question Monday' webinar, and encourage your customers to participate?
6. Customer Support is King
Even the best B2B businesses in the world will inevitably have a customer with an issue of some kind from time to time.
Your relationship is only as strong as your last contact, so if your customer has a problem, show them that you'll move heaven and earth to put it right.
Customer support and UX are fundamentals to building a solid retention strategy, so think about:
- Not being able to find a product online.
- Slow responses to emails or Live Chat requests.
- Needing to speak to someone and getting a busy line.
- Waiting around in a call queue for hours for technical support.
- Not responding to complaints or feedback.
- A price change that your customer wasn't informed of.
- Having problems logging into your online portal.
Investing in responsive, smart website design, on-demand customer assistance and reaching out to customers if you've any clue they're struggling with something will ensure you maintain the status of a helpful, supportive and valuable supplier.
7. Listen to Feedback and Complaints
Some businesses feel that opening themselves up to public reviews or dealing with a negative complaint makes them vulnerable to brand reputation damage - but the opposite is true.
Feedback is a hugely valuable tool and a way to see where you can improve, how you can compete, and opportunities to surpass customer expectations at every turn.
Listening to comments means your customer has a voice, they know they're heard, and they believe that you care about their experience enough to ask for their thoughts.
Even better, you can collate suggestions or requests, make this a visible log, and use it as a promotional tool to engage your customer base every time you put recommendations into action.
A give-and-take relationship encourages customers to want to work with you, knowing that their ideas hold serious weight.
8. Make Exit Interviews a Win-Back Opportunity
Now, exit interviews can be tough; there are no two ways about it.
But, if you use this time to understand exactly why your customer is walking away, you could make proactive changes to prevent the same dissatisfaction from arising elsewhere.
It might also be a chance to win them back, even if a tiny, tentative one.
If you make a concerted attempt to get a former customer back, you've got about a 20% to 40% likelihood of succeeding - which is a lot higher than the average 5-20% potential of landing a new prospect.
The right approach depends on the reason the customer is leaving or the problems they encountered that have caused them to seek an alternative supplier, but as food for thought:
- Could you offer a discount or perk to compensate for any issues?
- Would it be feasible to invite your previous customer to communicate the issues with your team, so you can present an action plan for how you intend to address their pain points?
- Can you accommodate any specific requirements that would make a difference?
Even if you don't always succeed, a win-back process is one of the vital elements of a superb B2B customer retention strategy - and if you don't try, you'll never know!
Customer churn is a massive challenge for many B2B enterprises. The impact becomes even greater when an ex-client then moves over to a competitor, diminishing your market share to benefit a rival company's bottom line.
Retention isn't just a way to build a regular, stable client base but is critical to fostering customer loyalty and long-term profits that will stand you in good stead. If you're looking for a trusted B2B marketing partner, get in touch with Tiga today.
Find out more about the B2B sales funnel
Segmenting a B2B audience
What B2B sales prospecting tools?
Social media platforms for a B2B audience
What is vertical marketing in B2B?
This post was written by:
Stuart is the Managing Director of Tiga Creative Marketing. He founded the agency over 30 years ago.
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