Retaining your customers in Business-2-Business industries and ensuring that they re-purchase your services can be a tricky process because not all the tools and techniques designed for business to consumer models can fit this need. The flexibility and innovation of your entire company can come into play as well as your embrace of technology and customer service, your communication within and between various teams and even how well you utilize available data.
Invest in a Customer Relationship Management Platform
One of the first things you should do when trying to retain customers is invest in a Customer Relationship Management platform. There are numerous benefits of CRM platforms such as data visualization, automation enhanced efficiency and simplified communication. These platforms can be cloud-based, giving your entire company access to vital customer information such as order status, customer service interactions and even early warning signs that a customer may switch to a competitor. These tools can help you more effectively communicate with your customers and various departments to ensure that any problems are resolved quickly and beneficially for all involved.
Embrace Data Across Platforms and Departments
Using and embracing Big Data concepts such as gathering, analyzing and using information from various sources can be one of those intimidating things that many B2B companies avoid because it is usually associated with B2C brands. However, gathering data such as market trends for your industry and buying habits of your customers can help you generate reports predicting which accounts you need to intercept before they switch to competitors. For example, if the data report indicates that a large number of clients are reducing orders from you while the market is trending upwards, then you can gather further data on trending products and services, your customer service interactions and your supply chain to pinpoint needed improvements.
Unify Human Talent and Tech
Your human talent and tech should work to complement each other and streamline processes. Your accounting department should have integrated software solutions which update automatically from the point of sale, acquisitions and time clock technology, and your sales department should have access to customer service reports associated with each client. This can help streamline processes, automate mundane tasks and free up your personnel for innovative solutions and creative team collaborations. This is not just limited to the business side of your operations, however, because your manufacturing line will need to have the right technology and equipment to do their jobs, track inventory and streamline processes as well.
Deliver Exceptional Customer Service
Customer service is the key to retention in all industries, the more your customers are satisfied with the products and services you provide, the more likely they are to purchase them from you again. Shifting your business model to cater more effectively to what your customers need can be time consuming but making the change in operational and leadership composition can give you an incredible return on investment. Research shows that the companies who focus more on customers make more sales and that investors are more likely to be interested in businesses using digital customer service tools.
Guide Customers Throughout Their Journey
Your clients go on a journey from initial purchase to final one and the more you can help and guide them along the way, the more purchases you are likely to get from them over the lives of both businesses. For example, you can start the journey by contacting sales leads and determining how your business can best meet their needs, keep them updated on deals and products with newsletters and customer portals, and even track satisfaction through feedback and troubleshooting options on those portals. This lets the customer know that they are a significant part of your B2B process and that you value their continued support. You can even have an early warning system in your CRM platform which prompts the sales team to contact clients when their order numbers drop or when planned products and improvements will best benefit them.
Optimize Communication Channels
There are various communication channels you use as a company including those with your supply chain, your customers and your employees. The more effective these channels are, and the more practice you have developing communication skills, the fewer problems arise in all business areas. For example, if your communication channels along your supply chain involve cloud-based and integrated software solutions, then you can get real-time updates on shipments and have a text chat conversation with contact points along the way. This can give you more warning of an approaching back order on one product or supply which you can communicate down the line to your sales teams and customers more quickly than if you are relying on email or phone call updates.
Retaining your B2B customers can be more challenging for many companies than retaining final consumer customers because your clients will be focused on their bottom line and improving their companies in much the same way you are. The main key is how well you embrace technology, data and structural changes necessary to provide continued and effective customer service, optimized communication and customer relationship management.