Customer retention is important in any environment. It’s particularly important in the B2B environment. This is because there’s usually a smaller pool of customers from which to draw. As a result, losing even one of them can have serious repercussions for your business. With that in mind, here are six tips on how you can improve your B2B customer retention.
Start on the right foot
The process of B2B retention needs to start from the moment you acquire a new customer. As the old saying goes, “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. At a minimum, your onboarding process should be flawlessly smooth. Ideally, it should enable your new customer to hit the ground running so your service delivers them maximum value in minimum time.
Take customer education seriously
When it comes to customer education, there are two key points you need to keep in mind. Firstly, different people have different learning preferences. Secondly, the same person can have different learning preferences depending on the situation. This means that it’s generally best to ensure that the same learning outcomes can be addressed in different ways.
For practical purposes, this means that your customer-education content should generally still be based on text. It should, however, also contain images (photos and graphics), video and/or audio as well.
Work on non-educational content
Education is, of course, important, but it isn't everything. Make sure that there’s plenty of alternative content too. Most of this will probably be “sensible” business content, albeit presented engagingly. This might mean video interviews with clients, case studies and/or updates on industry news.
You can, however, also make time for a bit of personal interest and/or straightforward fun. Let people know about how your company is contributing to your community. Encourage your employees to tell you if they’re doing anything interesting. Consider running some giveaways and competitions.
Keep in touch with customers
Realistically, your best, if not only, chance at B2B retention comes before the customer ends the contract. The more you engage with your customer, the more likely you are to pick up early on the warning signals of churn.
These days, there are all kinds of options for keeping in touch with customers. The only rule is that every time you do so, you must add some kind of value to their lives. Depending on your business, this could mean anything from sending a Tweet with a helpful infographic to holding an in-person meeting/video call.
Whatever type of business you run, however, consider using a customer survey. Keep it short and simple and ideally offer some kind of incentive to complete it. Often the most cost-effective approach is to offer entry into a prize draw. Use this to ask your customers openly if they are thinking about leaving you.
Follow up with customers who leave
If you possibly can, get proper feedback from customers about why they chose to leave. Then do everything reasonably possible to keep in touch with them after they’ve gone. This should actually be relatively straightforward if you’re on top of your content production and communication.
In short, if you’re consistently producing engaging, relevant content and promoting it correctly, you have a very high chance of maintaining a link with former customers. This can give you a head start on winning them back if you can address the reasons why they left.
Provide an A* user experience
There is no disputing that many businesses are very price-conscious. Fortunately, successful businesses also understand the difference between price and value. In particular, they understand that their time has value. This means that if you provide an A* customer experience you have an excellent chance of keeping customers even if your competitors have lower prices.
A key part of achieving this is recognising that there are limits to automation and self-service. No matter how great you are at these you must be able to back them with outstanding customer care. That means a fast, accurate, responsive service with a personal touch.