Getting customers to make the first purchase is only half the battle of growing your brand. The other half is customer retention—and that's a real challenge to achieve.
Your content marketing and SEO can be on point and healthy, your lead gen vendor can be in sync and delivering increasingly higher quality contacts.
But if you aren’t retaining customers, you’ll end up spinning your wheels and battling for every dollar. This situation is true for all industries, but more so for the B2B marketplace, where competition is intense.
Customer retention must be customized to your brand in B2B, but there are three things every brand can do to create a more loyal, responsive, and engaged customer base that sticks around long term. Let's take a look at these three things:
- Understand client contact as a person
There’s a reason salespeople go out to coffee, lunch, dinner or drinks with clients - it’s to form a personal bond. Being the client’s friend increase the chances that a contact will pick your brand when it’s time to buy or recommend it when presenting options to decision makers.
Ideally, you want to make sure that personal rapport with customers continues well past the purchase date. You can do that by creating customer profiles complete with likes and dislikes, hobbies, personal histories, and general temperament.
Also, you want to streamline the handoff from sales to customer success, by making sure you choose the key buying influence based on that sales profile. It’s important that he or she feel comfortable and open with every touchpoint with your brand.
- Be attentive and responsive—always
If you know that your client is worrying about a certain metric or task, even if it isn’t in your wheelhouse, be helpful whenever possible.
A large part of this is creating trust and friendship between sales reps and clients - which is best done through clear and honest expectation setting, and healthy communication pathways.
Nurture an environment in which clients feel comfortable sharing their frustrations, even when they don’t have much to do with the product or services you offer. This effort is how you unearth needs and desires that your brand could help with.
When needs and desires are known, if at all possible, make sure your brand can help with them. Ideally this would mean creating a product offering that suits their needs and desires, but it can - and often will - come in the form of a referral to a partner brand or a personal recommendation.
Lastly, ensure your clients are never left waiting in the dark, unsure of what your status is or when the next deliverable will come through. It’s much better to notify clients beforehand that a project is delayed than to simply hope they won’t notice you missed the deadline (Hint: They will always notice).
- Focus content on existing customers’ interests
While sales and customer service are definitely the major players in customer retention, marketing also plays a role in customer retention. Take a hint from B2C marketing tactics, and make sure your brand keeps in mind the needs and interests of your existing customer base, not just those you’re trying to attract for the first time.
By catering to customers' needs, you’ll reassure them that you’re listening, and that your goals are in sync with theirs. Whether that means publishing blogs that address relevant news, posting helpful tips to social media, hosting webinars on beating challenges they’re facing, or all three, make sure you’re acknowledging the needs of those who already love you.
Last Word—Generating Steady Growth
Customer retention is critical to steady business growth. Think of it like hiring a new employee - you know that, no matter how rigorous your interview process, if you skimp on training once you’ve found the right candidate, employees will likely fail.
The same is true of consumers. Once they make that first purchase, they make like your product, but they are far from loyal to it. You need to cultivate that trust and rapport over time, so that they're not easily swayed by your competitors’ offers, or driven away by minor mistakes from your team.
What customer retention tactics do you use? Which do you find work the best. We'd love to know.