Wondering how to create customer loyalty and retention in your B2B business? You’re not alone.
But having a plan and executing a plan are often two different things.
If you’re feeling a little daunted at the prospect of turning your good intentions into a fully-fledged customer experience (CX) program, we’re here to help.
By following these 5 simple steps, you can set your objective, understand its impact on the bottom line, collect and act on customer feedback, and encourage ongoing customer experience improvement.
Ready to make a positive difference in customer loyalty? Let’s get started.
How to Increase Customer Loyalty
Step 1: Set SMART Objectives
Goal-setting is vital at an early stage as it informs everything that follows, from C-suite buy-in to resource allocation.
Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish, and you’ve convinced everyone it’s a worthy objective, you can start figuring out how best to approach the task at hand.
Yet, our research shows that 42% of businesses don’t set goals for their CX program—meaning almost half are striving to improve customer experience without knowing if or when they’ll achieve it.
Don’t fall into that trap. Make sure your goals are crystal clear and understood from the outset. Better yet, make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound). That way, you’ll have a framework and deadline in place to evaluate the success of your CX efforts.
If you’re just dipping your toe into the water of CX, it’s a good idea to start with a small (achievable) goal and go from there. Doing so can help you build momentum and strengthen morale among your team as you close in on your target.
Aiming big might seem admirable and ambitious at the time, but if you don’t have the bandwidth and fall short, it could harm the long-term success of your CX program.
Step 2: Connect Enhanced Customer Loyalty to Revenue and Operational Data
With your goal set, the next step is to draw a line from improved customer loyalty to your financial and operational data. This will help you demonstrate that the work you’re doing is positively impacting internal workflows and, more importantly, the bottom line.
So, what do you need to know?
The value of your at-risk customers. How much revenue are you losing to churn? How much is at risk if you continue to do nothing? And how much could you be making if you address the situation?
Linking your customer loyalty metrics to your financial data can shed some much-needed light. Plug your numbers into our ROI calculator to see how much doing nothing is costing you.
The cost of specific drivers. You may have touch points in your business that are causing friction and harming profit. Knowing what these are, whether onboarding or technical support, and how much they’re costing you is crucial.
One thing to know is that 70% of business leaders aren’t linking customer experience to financial data.
Step 3: Implement a Customer Loyalty Platform + Start Collecting Feedback
It’s not always possible to do every single CX-related task yourself. Sometimes, you’ll need a little technical help — especially if you’re trying to gather information from large, complex B2B accounts.
So, instead of manually collecting and making sense of feedback (costly and time-consuming), you should implement a tried and tested customer loyalty platform. This will help you manage surveys, monitor responses, and track data quickly all in one place.
And as for the type of survey you need to get started, look no further than Net Promoter Score surveys.
Fast and simple (ensuring a high response rate), this is the best way to gain a clear understanding of customer sentiment, while also allowing you to dig deeper into their responses to specific interactions, e.g. with customer service or support staff.
Step 4: Close the Loop
No customer loyalty strategy is complete without action.
After all, that’s why many of your customers are filling in surveys in the first place: they want to see things change for the better.
With that in mind, you need to start closing the loop on your customer feedback. In other words, acting on the insights they’ve provided and letting them know what you’ve done.
Focus on the low-hanging fruit first before prioritizing any larger-scale efforts (like product enhancements or introducing a new service).
Ultimately, this approach is a surefire way to cut churn and improve long-term engagement in your surveys. It builds trust, too — you can see your retention increase by as much as 8.5%.
And when it comes to closing the loop, the faster the better.
Our experience shows that companies that close the loop within 48 hours have the best chance of increasing loyalty.
Step 5: Encourage Ongoing CX Improvement
An effective customer loyalty program isn’t a “once and done” endeavor. You need to continue to probe and prod, asking the right questions at the right time to enhance your customer experience and increase loyalty on an ongoing basis.
Not sure where to start?
Here are 10 things you can do to increase customer loyalty going forward:
10 Strategies to Increase Customer Loyalty in B2B
Drill down into specific touchpoints to discover opportunities for improvement. Are customers getting frustrated by your onboarding process? Is your customer service too slow to react? Is your technical support failing to resolve issues? These individual interactions could push unhappy customers to the edge of churning. You need to step in and find a solution before it’s too late.
Follow up with your passive customers regularly. These are the ones that aren’t as enthusiastic about your business (promoters) but aren’t at the point of churning (detractors). Find ways to make their experience better and you could end up turning your passive customers into fully-fledged promoters.
Track multiple signals (not just NPS). If you can pair Net Promoter Score® (NPS) or satisfaction metrics with account signals like product usage, support tickets, and email engagement, this can help your company monitor engagement from an entire account, across all stakeholders and channels.
Be open about closing the loop. People want to feel like they’ve been heard. Sometimes, that’s the only difference between keeping an account or losing it. So, remember to keep lines of communication open throughout, letting customers know “this is what we did as a result of your feedback.”
Set close-the-loop targets.We mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating: closing the loop works best if you do it quickly. And one way to ensure you’re fast off the mark is to have a target. 62% of B2B companies admit they do not have targets for closing the loop and guess what? They’re the slowest to do it.
Engage with at-risk customers as a priority. Using monetized NPS, which ties your NPS data to your revenue, you can see how much your at-risk customers are worth. Reaching out to them first with a reason to stay will make a meaningful difference to customer retention (and revenue).
Don’t be shy—send multiple surveys. Surveying multiple times a year can increase retention rates. Our research found that B2B companies that survey a single contact once a year experience have a median retention rate of 44%. Meanwhile, those surveying multiple times a year to multiple contacts experience an 82% retention rate.
Attack any absence of signal. If your customers aren’t responding to your surveys, then you’ve got an “absence of signal” on your hands. And if you can’t get them to share their thoughts, how can you take action to improve their experience? Minimize absence of signal by trying different feedback collection methods, like text messages or telephone interviews.
Identify up-selling and cross-selling opportunities. Are there opportunities for further growth among your promoters? According to Gartner’s estimates, 80% of profits come from 20% of customers. Capitalize on this: up-sell, cross-sell, and run a referral program to boost retention and, ultimately, grow your customer base, too.
Introduce a loyalty program. Almost 80% of customers are more likely to stay loyal to a brand if it has a loyalty program in place. Consider offering rewards or discounts to thank your customers for repeat purchases, or to incentivize them to engage with your product or service further. For example, undergo training to close a knowledge gap.
CustomerGauge Can Help You Increase Customer Loyalty
At CustomerGauge, we’re experts in customer experience. We help you listen to the voice of your customers, cut churn by improving their experience, and boost your revenue growth.
Increasing customer loyalty and retention can be a lot of work, but you don’t have to do it alone.