What is customer loyalty?
As the term implies, the purpose of customer loyalty is to retain paying customers to a company by means of various measures and to turn them into regular customers.
Why is customer loyalty important in B2B?
For a company to maintain its position on the market and generate profits in the long term, sales to both private and commercial customers must remain stable or even increase. Good relationships with the purchasing departments of the commercial customer base are an important tool in this process. Through targeted customer loyalty measures, good relationships can be built and deepened and thus ensure lasting sales for a company.
The B2B market is smaller than the market with a private customer base. Some of the commercial customers have contact with each other and recommend products to others. Conversely, complaints spread more quickly among customers. Therefore, it is important to build a solid customer base and strengthen customer satisfaction. To do this, various measures to retain customers can be applied, which we present in this guide. The measures include both personal contact and digital solutions for improved customer retention and customer acquisition.
Types of customer loyalty
Customer loyalty in B2B means that a company undertakes various activities to retain its clientele in the long term. According to marketing experts, the means used in this process differ according to the following five criteria:
emotional or social means
Economic reasons that make customers become regular customers are down payments already made for goods that have not yet been delivered or services that are only to be provided in the future. Contractually agreed special conditions for certain customer groups also ensure stable customer loyalty in B2B. Some companies go the other way and charge penalties if customers switch providers. At the same time, management should keep in mind that such a forced customer connection often lasts only a short time. As soon as the buyer has the opportunity to terminate the contract, they will switch to another manufacturing company.
An emotional or social customer connection in B2B is a voluntary matter from the point of view of the buying public. The social bond is created primarily when the salesperson makes an effort to establish personal contact with the client's employees and gains their trust. Through personal contact, individual wishes can be fulfilled faster and more efficiently. This leads to greater customer satisfaction and long-term business relationships. Since this is also an emotional bond, it can also be terminated by the customer at any time.
The customer base is technically tied to the manufacturing company if the product is a special technical system or software. It is mandatory for the purchaser to contact the producing company for repairs, maintenance or extensions. In doing so, the producer must make sure that the competition will not produce similar products that are compatible with your systems and make the purchase of original parts unnecessary.
Situational reasons for B2B customer loyalty are local or temporal monopolies of the manufacturing company. The clientele is forced to buy the products from a certain supplier because there is no alternative offer in the vicinity or at that time.
A legal constraint on customer loyalty in B2B exists primarily through long-term contracts. If the buyer cannot withdraw from the contract or may only terminate it with a long notice period, the business relationship will inevitably last longer. Companies can therefore consider contract negotiations as one of the possible measures for customer retention.
Measures for customer loyalty in B2B
Numerous companies focus their entire business on clientele and improved customer loyalty. To do this, the companies use the processes of customer relationship management (CRM). It is a corporate strategy in which all customer processes are planned, controlled and executed with the goals of customer acquisition and improved customer retention.
The components of CRM are:
Analysis of customer relationships
Knowledge about the clientele
Planned and restructured customer processes
Development of customer-oriented service offers and information systems
Analysis of customer relationships shows that each customer base wants to be treated differently. While some customers can be lured with discounts, other buyers value good customer service. Once a company has gathered enough knowledge about the individual wishes and needs of its clientele, customer processes can be planned and restructured. The result is customer-oriented offerings that lead to greater customer satisfaction and ensure better customer loyalty in the long term.
Below are some types of customer loyalty that can be used to attract customers and increase customer satisfaction.
Good customer service
Good customer service starts with the friendliness of the employees. This should actually be a matter of course in business life and every company should constantly remind themself of it. Through regular training, employees learn how important a nice smile or a kind word is in a relationship with a commercial customer.
Other services that are also very important to clientele are:
Customer service availability
Reliability of deadlines or commitments
Speed in completing orders or responding to inquiries
Goodwill decisions in the event of complaints
Forward-looking advice and support
Expertise and honesty in providing information and commitments
Know your customer
It is important to know exactly which products the clientele needs or which additional services they require? These questions can be answered by conducting a customer survey. The survey should contain a limited number of questions so that it doesn’t take too much time to answer. It is possible to commission an external service provider for this need.
There should always be a genuine interest in the customers' wishes and complaints. A personal conversation can make the difference. Through these conversations, customers' needs can be identified and targeting customer loyalty tools will become easier.
Responding to the needs of the clientele
Is the customer base asking for an expansion of a certain product or requesting additional services? Customers’ needs and wishes should be addressed in order to achieve better customer loyalty!
For example, not only private customers but also commercial customers are increasingly asking for the option of paying for goods and services at a later date. Pioneers in certain industries already offer their commercial customers Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL). BNPL offers many advantages whereby the buyer gets the product immediately, but does not have to pay for it until a later date. Interest-free credits can be offered to the commercial customer.
By integrating Billie’s BNPL payment methods into the online store checkout, the conversion rate can be increased by 64% and average order sizes can grow up to 18%. More and more customers want a flexible payment method.
With an acceptance rate of over 90%, it is possible for almost every customer to buy now, and pay later.
Not only can buyers expect a high acceptance rate, but also benefit from a well thought through post-purchase experience. With the Billie buyer portal, customers have access to all invoices, due dates and its statuses.
Reward for loyalty
Commercial customers frequently switch providers, and loyal customers can no longer be taken for granted. Therefore, long-time buyer groups could be rewarded with a special bonus program. Discounts, loyalty cards, loyalty points or freebies can also be used to reward loyalty. Some companies also set up their own customer clubs with special offers and events for loyal customers.
In business, personal contact between the contracting parties is an important factor for high customer satisfaction and improved customer loyalty. In a large company, it is difficult to keep track of all the contact persons. A clear CRM system helps here. The system lists all important information such as names of buyers, special customer requests and problems in the past. With each contact, the data is available for a targeted customer approach. If there is a bigger customer base, marketing automation systems can address a large number of contacts individually. Also, being present at trade shows and conferences to stay in personal contact with commercial customers is an easy and effective way to show decent interessest.
Staying in touch with customers
Business customers tend to buy less frequently and at more irregular intervals than private shoppers. Long buying cycles means that there is only irregular contact between companies and the customer base. Customers should be reminded by using one of the following customer engagement tools:
Business breakfast or business lunch for clients who don’t have a lot of time
Participation in conferences and trade fairs
Roadshows for presentations at various locations
Invitations to sports events or cultural events for selected customers
Regular sending of newsletters and promotional offers
However customers should not be overwhelmed with appointments and offers. If they are reminded about a company too often, they may cut off contact because they feel harassed or disturbed in their day-to-day business.
Digital channels and social media is an easy and often used tool to engage with customers. email Email marketing is an effective way for advertisement or an external advertising agency can be hired to create a digital advertising campaign. Participating in online trade shows and online conferences for better customer engagement can be very successful. If an offer of a product excites a particularly large number of buyers, encouraging the creation of an online community of interested customers has shown great results in the past.
Highlight unique selling point
Products should constantly be compared with competitors' offerings and unique selling points of goods or services should be highlighted. Customers are willing to be more loyal if they make a profit or get more security from certain products. A simple ordering process and other facilitations also ensure greater customer satisfaction.
Measuring B2B customer loyalty
To measure the success of customer loyalty measures and the efficiency of the customer loyalty tools, there are various means at disposal:
A detailed record of sales figures and the number of customer contacts should be kept.
Offers and the purchase processes should be rated by customers. The evaluation should be kept short.
All reviews on social media, your homepage, and other portals should be read carefully and taken seriously. A lot of information about customer satisfaction and possible problems with the purchase or products can be taken from these sources.
Conducting test purchases can be helpful to improve the buyer experience.
Customer loyalty in B2B is important and can be easily achieved
Customer loyalty in B2B ensures the survival of a business. Therefore, it is important to keep in touch with business customers and increase customer satisfaction through targeted customer loyalty measures. Long-term customer loyalty on customers should not be forced; instead, voluntary loyalty should be the focus. This satisfied regular customers can be found who are happy to recommend businesses that stand out to others.
Make shopping easier for your customers with a friendly approach, a simple ordering process and modern payment options. Our consultants will be happy to inform you about new digital technologies and automated processes for B2B transactions for fast and secure payment processing. Schedule an appointment here or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about BNPL and other modern payment options in a no-obligation consultation.