You may recall that traditional marketing is all about building awareness for products and brands. In traditional marketing, the emphasis is on getting new customers and very little attention is paid to customer retention. But according to best-selling author and marketer Stan Phelps, traditional marketing is dead. Instead, it’s time to focus on retaining customers and using B2B customer retention strategies.
The data backs up Phelps’ claim: according to Gartner research, decreasing customer churn by just 5% can increase profits by 25% to 125%. The reason is that it is expensive to get new customers while it’s much easier (and more sustainable) to keep your current base and sell them more products. As such, B2B customer retention strategies are becoming more and more prized ways for companies to grow.
In 2013, Phelps was prescient in discussing how to do this at a meeting of the NJ Chapter of MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group). Nearly a decade later, Phelps’ prophecy holds true: it all boils down to doing that little extra for your customers — surprise and delight them, and they will return the favor. Going the extra mile for your customers sounds like common sense, but it is far from common practice. And today, as businesses reopen, winning customer approval is more important than ever. See some ways in which you can gain their following and support in today’s competitive market:
Follow up with your customers
This is a really easy way to get started. Call your clients up after they buy from you and ask them if they are happy with the product/service and see if there are any issues you can clear up for them.
Write thank you letters to your clients (hand write them for extreme bonus points!). Writing thank you letters is becoming a lost art today — which makes them very powerful tools when used. Want to retain customers? Thank them for doing business with you!
Handle mistakes well
We all make mistakes. How you handle that mistake is very important though: don’t just make it right for the company you’re doing business with, go above and beyond. If you do above and beyond to rectify a wrong, you can actually form a stronger bond than if you had never made the mistake, making this one of more important B2B customer retention strategies.
Is there a small extra you can add to your service or product for your businesses? If B2C is all about brand consistency and relationships, B2C is about performance and trust. Enhance your performance and bolster your trust by throwing in a little value add — this can be especially key in the onset. It can be a major step for a business to begin a partnership with another; sweeten the deal with an added gimmie.
And always make a good first impression
If you’ve been around long enough, chances are you have heard the cheesy pick-up line, “do you believe in love at first sight — or should I walk by again?” That may or not work in romance, but it certainly does not work in business. Customers form lasting impressions right away, which is why it is so important to make a good first impression.
If you have ever stayed at a DoubleTree Hotel, you have enjoyed a delicious first impression: starting in the early 1980s, DoubleTree began a tradition of serving warm chocolate chip cookies to customers when they check-in. At the time, it was common for hotels to give cookies to VIPs, but DoubleTree said “all our customers are VIPs,” and today, they have sold hundreds of millions of these cookies.
Take care of your customers and look for ways to give them just a little extra. You might be surprised at how well they respond!