It is no secret that customer loyalty is one of the pillars of a successful business.
Studies across a number of industries have revealed that the cost of keeping an existing customer is around 10% of the cost of acquiring a new one, so building strong, lasting relationships with customers is crucial.
The main thing to understand is that customers understand better than ever what businesses should provide for them, and have the freedom of choice to separate themselves from any business that fails to deliver. With that in mind, the main ways you can build and keep loyalty are:
- Build trust through relationships and expertise
- Anticipate problems
- Say thank you
- Use customer feedback to improve
Having an understanding of how to achieve these steps will mean that you can concentrate on retention and building relationships with customers that keep your business growing.
Build trust through relationships and expertise
Showing customers that your business is something they want to be involved in, in terms of both trust and expertise, is central to retaining loyalty.
Shared values can be demonstrated in many ways but a great way is to work out your B2B customers’ USPs, and demonstrate the ways in which your business can play to their strengths. By showing you have a great understanding of their business, and how your services/products can help it, you become invaluable to them.
When engaging with businesses (rather than consumers) understand that you need to have multiple contact points within the company. Work as hard as you can to keep channels open, remembering that you will want to be able to engage with the decision makers of a business. MarketingProfs reported that after Oracle began actively engaging with decision makers within its client base, its customer retention rate was more than 20% greater.
It is important to have your social media channels open to customers, so they are able to voice any concerns or questions. Ensure that you reply to these promptly – ‘80 percent of customers expect a response to their social media queries within 24 hours’.
Lastly, to demonstrate the knowledge and expertise of your employees, maintain an informative and interesting blog on your website. When people trust your news and advice, they will also be more likely to trust your business.
Being organized and anticipating problems that may occur with customers will help build trust.
If you offer a service, such as IT, make sure to schedule regular check-ups, which will hopefully prevent any major issues. Whatever the service you provide, make sure to communicate with the people in the other business, checking that everything is going well. You want to be able to feel like you are on top of things, and make them feel as though everything is running smoothly.
As is one of Apple’s key mottos, you need to ‘listen for and resolve expressed and unexpressed needs’. Every business has worries and anxieties, but if you have the foresight to see problems before they arise, you will be rewarded.
Say thank you
Thanking your customers is an important part of keeping them happy. There are many ways you can do this. One good idea is to give them something that they will value in business terms; maybe involve them in meetings about your latest products, and keep them in the loop on any offers, as well as making sure to refer as much business as possible to them (as long as this doesn’t detract from your business).
Other good ideas include charitable donations made in their name. This is especially good since it demonstrates your business has a philanthropic side to it, and businesses with a strong ethos will be encouraged to work with you. You could give a gift which demonstrates your creativity as a business, for example FedEx once gave a number of customers a chance to take a flight in a new plane they were using – this is obviously a particularly extravagant example, and most firms don’t have planes to hand, but you get the idea – think outside the box!
You may decide to keep it simple with a note; thanking customers for their business will be appreciated. In the end, it is about demonstrating to customers that they (and their business) are valued within your company.
Use customer feedback to improve
Ultimately, you will only be able to work out which of your retention schemes and practices are working if you ask customers themselves. Qualtrics defines customer retention as being individualized and varied across the kind of product or service provided, the kinds and number of customers served, the longevity and frequency of customer/supplier interactions, and the strategies you have chosen to grow your business – so it may take some digging and time to understand which tactics your customers respond to, but asking them is always a good place to start. Do so in three stages:
- Monitor feedback on an individual level, narrowing data down to a specific client, working out what the client thought and taking action from it.
- Look at feedback across a period of time; you should be able to track from survey to survey, to see what has gone well and what has not.
- Use your data to define which areas and customers are at risk, it is important that you are able to target which areas of your customer retention program aren’t working.
In using these strategies, you should be able to increase customer retention in your business, eliminating costs associated with constantly having to attract new customers, as well as building strong business relationships, which will help your company to flourish.
Insights for Professionals provide free access to the latest thought leadership from global brands. We deliver subscriber value by creating and gathering specialist content for senior professionals. To view more Marketing content, click here.