How To Stop Your Competitors From Tempting Your Customers Away


One of the biggest anxieties for business owners is losing customers to a competitor, and it’s worth being mindful of this eventuality in order to keep customer service levels high and your offering relevant. However, B2B businesses generally value stability and reliability in their supplier relationships, and don’t want the inconvenience of regularly having to flit between suppliers. By investing in customer retention and placing the needs of your buyer personas at the centre of your marketing and sales strategy, you can increase customer loyalty and the lifetime value of each customer account.

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1) Start a customer loyalty scheme

Customer loyalty schemes are popular among B2C businesses, from Nectar Points to frequent flyer discounts. It is less clear-cut how these ideas work among B2B businesses, but there are always ways to incentivise your customers and make them feel valued. A popular strategy is to give customers volume discounts, discounts on repeat orders, and priority access to products, as well as access to exclusive special offers, one-to-one consultancy, and incentive content. You may also be able to offer customers incentives for referrals or for leaving positive testimonials on social media.

2) Include your customers in discounts and benefits

A common mistake businesses make is to focus their discounted rates and best deals on new business sales, while existing customers languish on older pricing tariffs. It may not be possible to offer the same types of deal to both new and existing customers, but with every concession you provide for new business, it is worth making sure that there are equivalent or greater concessions in place for your existing customers. This not only cements loyalty among your customer base but may also encourage prospects to do business with you for the first time.

3) Discover how you can help them succeed

It is a given that your customers have a need for your product and service, and that they want it within a reasonable timeframe and at an affordable price, but pounds and pence aren’t enough to sustain a relationship. If you look at this from the angle of your own supplier relationships, the best are often those in which you feel you are talking to a member of your own team – because the supplier is invested in your success. This deep mutual respect and understanding is the foundation of all long-term business relationships.

This doesn’t happen overnight, but all good retention strategies are built around discovering how to establish this bond with every new customer, and the first step involves learning how you can become instrumental in your customers’ success. This requires spending time talking to them and discovering their current pain points and expectations, as well as any disappointments they’ve had with other providers.

With this information, you can start putting together a shared strategy that accounts for both yours and your customers’ goals. This high-level commitment is very different from simply offering to sell products and services or even providing welcome discounts and incentives (as important as these are): it shows customers that you genuinely care and that you’re on the same page.

4) Deliver genuine value

Affordability is relative, but value is something that can be objectively measured and monitored. How much money does working with you allow your customers to save, and how much does it help them make? A big part of new customer sales is explaining to prospects the monetary value of your products and services in terms of the return on investment they should expect. However, once sales are made, customers aren’t always followed up to ensure that these ROI expectations are met. A big cause of customer attrition is disappointment caused by results that don’t match initial expectations. Keep checking in with your customers to see where improvements can be made and to keep expectations on track.

Value doesn’t end with ROI – there are other criteria of value that are specific to each customer type, each of which relates to the pain points that drew them to your business in the first place. In many cases, value is created by going above and beyond the bare details of your contract, actively looking for ways in which you can save your customers time and make their job easier in some way. This level of detail and care makes you indispensable to your customer in ways that are hard to quantify on a chart, cementing loyalty and improving retention.

5) Excel at customer support

Providing satisfactory customer service experiences is one of the keys to customer retention, because every interaction you have with an existing customer is an opportunity for relationship building. Customer service is straightforward on the surface: you deliver your services according to what is promised, you are transparent about your processes and any delays and changes, and you respond promptly and creatively to customer questions. But these are things that customers simply expect, and although their lack may damage a relationship, on their own they won’t boost customer retention. 

The key to good customer service is being empathetic and proactive. Empathy, especially, is essential for businesses that conduct most of their interactions online, as it adds a level of personalisation to customer service that may be missing from purely digital transactions. Customer support becomes a crucial ingredient in retention when it moves from being simply about transactional efficiency to becoming a meaningful relationship in which you continuously seek new ways to create value for your customer. Proactivity means not waiting until customers have a problem or complaint to get in touch. Check in with them at regular intervals to see how they are doing, what they are struggling with, and whether they have any feedback or suggestions – this data can be used to update your buyer personas and tailor your services to improve loyalty, as well as revealing opportunities for up sales and cross sales.

6) Use Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

In the B2B context, SLAs are vital to retention, as they establish mutual expectations and help customers see to what extent you are accountable and committed to customer satisfaction.

Despite their enormous potential for improving customer loyalty, SLAs are vastly underused in B2B settings. Low adoption rates could work in your favour if you are one of the few companies in your niche who can provide this level of quality assurance to your customers.

7) Respect your customers’ time

Ask any businessperson what their most valuable resource is, and the chances are they will say it’s their time and that of their team. Since time is so crucial and you can’t “make more of it”, building respect for your customers’ time in every interaction can go a long way to building trust and loyalty.

Self-service options may be feasible in some areas of customer service, such as maintaining an up-to-date FAQs page or chat bot on your website. Many businesses also benefit by giving their customers a choice of meeting formats that include both face-to-face and virtual/video options. If you’re unsure where to start, feel free to ask your customers where their time pinch points are and use this as a basis for adjusting your service delivery mechanism to be more convenient and respectful – and never forget to say thank you to your customers when they give you their time.

Find out more

For more information about customer retention and how to increase the value of each of your customers, please speak with one of our retention team today by calling 01332 215152.

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