Driving new customer growth is commendable, but let’s not forget about our existing loyal customer base. B2B buyers are frequent purchasers and typically have high sales volume. In today’s digital hyperactive environment we need to take a step back and ask, how are we keeping our existing customers happy? Are we doing the right things and building the right strategies to earn our customer’s loyalty in the long run?
FOUNDATIONAL STEPS: RETENTION & LOYALTY
Step 1: Define a clear brand strategy
Building loyalty is imperative in today’s business world. It starts with a foundation and buy-in from the key stakeholders in your organization. Clearly articulate your company’s mission and core values consistently across your channels to differentiate yourself in the market both online and offline. Echoing this clear message will drive customer satisfaction as a result building confidence in your brand - driving loyalty and repeat purchases.
Step 2: Consistent Customer Touchpoints and Messaging
Breaking any silos in the organization is critical. Interactions in the sales process and multi-channel touchpoints with your customers (web, marketing customer service, branches) on a daily, monthly, or quarterly basis can help retain your customers.
Journey mapping is a great tool to help improve your customer’s buying experience. By tracking your customers’ interactions with your business you can identify areas to improve, deliver a consistent message and build a stronger tie to your business.
Step 3: Know Your Customers – Deliver On Your Promise
With larger orders, higher spending buyers want to feel comfortable in their buying decisions. Understanding their motivations and delivering on your promise is needed for customer retention. Once you understand what is important to your customer’s organization, you can then tailor or personalize the relationship accordingly. The customer data provides deep insights and areas of improvement as well as successes in the organization. Delivering on your promises highlights your successes both online and offline.
Step 4: Key Differentiators – Know Your Competition
It is important to know the competitive landscape just as it is to know your customers. Evaluate regional and national competition; there are no limits on location today. Know their product offerings, pricing and loyalty efforts to ensure you have a competitive advantage. Assess their businesses by visiting their websites; evaluate the customer experience, sign-up for their newsletters, and see how they are serving your market compared to the experience with your company.
Step 5: Set Goals, Define Success and Measure Impact
Review your customer retention rates over the last 3-5 years to better set and forecast expectations. Meet internally with all key stakeholders to review the current and future state to get buy-in on goals. Setting quarterly goals on retention rates and understanding your customer pain points through customer surveys will surface areas of focus.
ENGAGE & REWARD YOUR CUSTOMERS
Once you have defined your internal business goals, start to consider a vision for your loyalty plan. Promotional codes, coupons, and discounts are well known in the B2C retail environment, but many B2B companies are quick to dismiss B2C marketing strategies. While many B2C tactics may not align with your business, the focus needs to shift from product and processes to customer engagement.
- Personalize and Engage Your Key Accounts. Recognize your customer’s value by segmenting your customers within your organization. Start by identifying and defining your VIP or gold member customer segments and offer early access to new product launching, personalize email newsletters, and tailor marketing communication differently from other customers. Brand new customers should receive special treatment to ensure repeat purchase behavior such as education on products and services while reminding them of your mission and core values.
- Driving Customer Behavior with Rewards. Consider incentivizing with a reward program such as a tier volume program or a point system based on dollars spent. When a customer reaches a specific volume provide monetary recognition or rewards. This removes any price sensitivity on a product with an approach to focus on customer loyalty on a quarterly or yearly timeframe. Set goals in the beginning of the year for your customers to drive motivation to hit defined thresholds.
- Customer Purchase Behavior Communication. Identifying your customers’ purchases, behavior cadences, and category/ product interests is key to repeat purchases. Ensure loyalty by reaching out to these customers through marketing communication or through your sales channel with applicable categories of interest including cross-sell and upsell opportunities.