Customer Experience News & Trends

3 powerful ways to build B2B customer loyalty

You care about the customer experience and want to build loyalty, so you have a solid handle on their needs, right?

In reality, about two-thirds of B2B customers don’t feel the companies they deal with understand what they want and need, a recent Gallup survey found.

When customers don’t believe you understand their needs, they’ll likely look for a business that does — at a lower cost if possible, researchers said.

But some top-tier companies are bucking the B2B trend, and successfully satisfying customers and increasing loyalty.

How? They have excelled in these three areas:

1. Tailored service

You know it’s important for front-line service professionals to tailor service to the person they’re dealing with at any given moment. Use their names. Know their history. Reference a recent contact.

While that’s often enough tailored service for consumers, B2B customers, who tend to spend more, usually expect more. They want trusted advisors — a company with employees who give them valuable and relevant insights that help them become better businesses.

But just half the B2B customers in the Gallup survey feel they have it. Being a trusted advisor has its benefits for you, too: When customers strongly agree that they’re in a “trusted advisor relationship,” they’re 1.5 times more profitable, twice as likely to buy again and three times more likely to recommend you than customers who don’t feel they have trusted advisors on their side.

One best-in-class company made itself more of a trusted advisor by giving end-user advice.

The company did more than research, understand and respond to its customers’ needs. Customer experience pros did the same for its customers’ customers. The company identified, understood and forecasted the end consumer purchasing trends to help its customer better prepare for and profit from demand.

2. Dividing and conquering

B2B customers have different needs depending on their industry, region, facility, capacity and product offering. Today, it’s a stretch to have one account manager and a service pro situated by a region or industry handle it all effectively.

Gallup found that B2B businesses that assign account managers and service pros or teams based on specific industry knowledge, geographic location and purchasing activity were more effective at exceeding customers’ expectations than those that maintained relationships based on just one factor, such as geography.

Even better: B2B companies that got executives involved in the customer relationships — for instance, having high-ranking leaders from both companies connect regularly — created tactical partnerships. Customers then turned to their B2B partners to overcome pressing challenges, which encouraged them to remain loyal.

3. Making everything easier

There’s a misconception in the B2B customer experience that has held fast for too long, Gallup researchers said: Many B2B organizations don’t think their customers expect (or even want) the variety of tools to stay in touch that consumers use.

Truth is, B2B customers are also consumers in their lives outside of work. They’re used to getting help on everything from social media and chat to websites and email.

The key to success with multi-channel service (whether it’s B2B or B2C) is a seamless experience. Top companies only integrate service avenues they can support in harmony with existing avenues. For instance, they won’t offer chat until they have the service pros available to handle it most hours of the day and the ability to incorporate the chat interaction into the existing account information that includes a record of calls, email and other contacts.

Over time, as the omni-channel experience becomes seamless, the best companies move more of the simple customer interactions to digital channels, freeing up their customer experience pros to handle more difficult and complex issues, and build the partnerships that build B2B loyalty.

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