Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Engendering customer loyalty in a B2B environment

We all want to be heard. It is simply human nature. At home, my kids often say ‘mum, are you listening to me!?’ My three year old has a habit of pulling my face to his and letting me know what he has to say – eyeball to eyeball – just to make sure.

In business, it is no different. Your customers expect to be heard. The more you listen, the more likely that you will provide a better customer experience that will lead to repeat business.

Here are some ideas to engender customer loyalty in a B2B environment:

·         Response times: How soon do you get back to your customers or potential customers when they make contact with you? In general, I respond within 24 hours. In reality, it is within three hours unless it is overnight.

·         Contact information: Is it easy for customers to locate your contact information? Do you have a standard contact form on your website? If you don’t have a receptionist, do you use a messaging service so someone can leave a message with a person rather than a voice recording? A messaging service can also give customers a sense that your business is bigger than it really is.

·         Complaints resolution: Do you have a policy when it comes to handling complaints? Is there someone in your business who is trained to handle difficult customers? Complaints can either be nipped in the bud or escalated quickly. Excellent customer skills combined with conflict resolution skills are excellent attributes to have in an employee and should be highly sought after in any business.

·         Provide value all the time: Part of my service offering is providing recruitment services. Everyone loves to hate recruiters so I need to add value from the start. I deal mostly with SMEs. I am a small business myself so I understand their challenges and needs. Recently, I assisted a client in finding some quality candidates to be interviewed for a job share role. The night before the interview, I designed an interview run-sheet that included appropriate interview questions for the role on offer. My client responded immediately letting me know that they were extremely grateful for this information as they were starting to stress about how to run the interviews the following day. 

·         Follow-up: After you have delivered your work, find out how you performed. What did they like and what could be improved? You have to be resilient enough to accept constructive criticism from time-to-time.

·         Consider how you are treated by your service providers: What do you like and what would you change? The adapt or adopt the best parts to suit your business.

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