When I look around at the brands I subscribe to they usually offer 1 of 2 things, either an exceptional product or service or a reason to return as a customer. Take Tesco as a prime example, their products, whilst not bad are by no means at the top of the quality chain. I would rather buy my weekly food shop from Waitrose or M&S but where Tesco differentiate is in 2 areas. Firstly, convenience, they have invested heavily in not only having stores scattered around the countryside and our inner cities, but also in probably the best online grocery shopping experience. Secondly they urge you to return, if not through their Clubcard incentive scheme but through the £7 off your next shop voucher that is attached to your last receipt or whatever loyalty offer their marketing minds have devised that month. They are the masters of B2C mass marketing and when coupled with their ability to cross and upsell anything from fridge freezers and cars to insurance and mortgages their tremendous success is no surprise.
So how do we translate this into the B2B world? Making customers return by offering an exceptional service or product is down to the board to devise a strategy that delivers just that and a committed team to ensure it happens. But getting them to return without this advantage can be a little more tricky.
My advise? Get personal. Understand what the customer wants and deliver it. This ranges from how they wish to be communicated with, right through to taking them to the races for the day. The key is delivering what they want, not what we think they want. Our needs as B2B and B2C customers vary and we are not all driven by the same things, but without this level of understanding of our customers we are setting out to fail.
CRM strategy plays a major part in getting this right. Are you sending your customers birthday cards? Do you know what their corporate hospitality preferences are? Do you know where they like to go on holiday? This all may sound a bit trivial, but the customer that gets a birthday card signed by the entire company then gets invited to a cup final because his team are playing is one that is far more likely to be loyal.
In an ever increasingly competitive Market what we are actually selling is inches. With a similar product and solution set to many companies we need to find the inch that make us better and that makes our customers more loyal. It is after all the little things that often mean the most.