Why You Need to Manage Your B2B Customer Relationships
Customers who are merely satisfied remain your customers only as long as everything goes their way. - Chip Bell
A Gallup study of thousands of customers revealed that only 13% of them were fully engaged in their B2B relationships. These are the decision makers that are loyal customers, even described as emotionally attached. Another 22% are engaged, meaning they also see themselves as loyal but would be tempted to switch as a matter of convenience or if they can get a better price. The remaining 65% don’t consider themselves to be loyal and could easily go to the competition for any number of reasons.
So what’s it worth to have fully engaged customers? Gallup studies across different industries showed that the fully engaged customer is worth 23% more than the average customer in terms of profitability, revenue, and account share. It is in every company’s best interest to move beyond satisfying a customer with price, efficiency and speed – these bars can be reached by your competition easily enough. It is the relationships you build with your customers that will keep your customers coming back to you, increase their spending, and refer other businesses.
As you consider your own company, are you proactively engaging with customers through a relationship management plan? If you measured your customers’ engagement today, how would they describe their relationship with you? Do they see value in your company beyond pricing or convenience? If not, what are some things you can do to increase the value they see in doing business with your company? Here are some suggestions to start with:
- Communication that is not financially driven, such as newsletters with information that’s useful for their business
- Thank-you letters or emails as follow-up
- Reward programs based on your understanding of your customer
- When feasible, seek out face-to-face interactions
- Be strategic in dealing with unhappy customers – policy recitation won’t build the relationship
- Seek their input and get their feedback to make them feel involved
- If you can’t see them face-to-face, call them!
Here’s the bottom line. Companies must be proactive in growing their relationships in order to increase the number of customers that are actively engaged. If you currently don’t have a relationship management plan, what are you doing to keep your customers from going to your competitors?