5 Tips B2B and B2C Companies Can Learn from Each Other

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Don’t Drive Clients Away: Tips to Improve Customer Experience and Client Retention

In the world of Customer Experience the lines are steadily blurring between B2C and B2B. Whether in corporate or retail, customers expect certain levels of service, or they will leave. The easier we make it for our clients to deal with us, the more likely they will be repeat customers. Businesses should always strive to create an experience that clients would not want to leave for any reason.

Once thought to be solely a retail or B2C consideration, successful companies have recognized that Customer Experience and Customer Service factor heavily into company perception and client retention rates. Forrester Research examined 7,500 consumer surveys and found that providing a good customer experience influences:
1.Consumers’ willingness to repurchase,
2.Their reluctance to switch to a competitor
3.Their likelihood to recommend companies across all industries studied.

To help your business gain the advantages from providing a positive Customer Experience, employ these five tips:

1. Start with service.

Customers in both worlds demand good customer service. All companies can benefit from reviewing their approach. According to a global 2013 Accenture study, 66% of B2C consumers switched providers due to poor customer service. Consumers will not feel loyalty to companies that do not value their business. One-size-fits-all answers to service questions are not acceptable to retail consumers, nor should they be.

A Forrester survey also cites an excellent example of service. Sprint focused on eliminating the root causes of customer complaint calls to the contact center and jumped from last to first in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Since they fielded fewer outsourced calls, and decreased the number of customer credits needed, Sprint saved $1.7 billion dollars.

2. Anticipate client needs and preferences.

B2B, take a page from Amazon’s “if you like x, you may also like y” suggestions. This approach forces companies to pay more attention to their clients and make correlations for them. Save your clients a step or two and demonstrate your understanding of their needs. When people feel understood they are more inclined to buy.

3. Know your customers AND be innovative.

Take trends and make them relevant and tailored for your customers. Be innovative. When you know trends and you know your client, bring the two together to create a spin, look, and approach that is your client’s own. No one in B2B wants to show up at an event where everyone has the same approach, look, goods, et al. Avoid cookie cutter solutions.

4. Streamline the process, respond quickly through all stages of the sales cycle, and COMMUNICATE.

With many online business transactions, tracking information, order summaries or other confirmations are immediate. B2B clients are busy people who juggle many projects. Do not make them chase you for information. Be the one who is always one step ahead of their questions. Provide accurate information quickly and efficiently and apprise them of any changes or issues that need attention.

Recently our company reached out to an industry-leading B2B vendor for a quote. A week later, when we still did not have the information and called to inquire, the response from the customer service rep was “Yeah?” (as if to say, what do you want me to do about it?). Poor communication drives business away.

5. Make it easy to work with you.

If you want to give a discount to a customer, give it to them. Do not make them fill out impossible rebate paperwork and wait two months for an update. This is infuriating and unnecessary. Find a different business approach for revenue. Poor practices impact overall company image.

Not only does good customer experience affect overall revenue, referrals for new business, and client retention, it also has an impact on stock performance. Leaders in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index had a cumulative 43% gain in performance from 2007-2012, compared to a 14.5% increase for the S&P 500 Index, and a 33.9% decrease for companies with poor customer experience.

The message for all corporations, both B2B and B2C is to examine your business through your clients’ eyes and make improvements where needed. Everyone benefits from positive customer experience.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted on LinkedIn: