Whether your business is B2C or B2B, focusing all your love and attention on new customers, while neglecting your existing ones, can prove very costly.
The place you want to get to is where your customers feel valued and genuine loyalty has been established. Once you’ve achieved this you’ll be in a very strong position. Your customers will be more likely to be resistant to competitors, more forgiving if there are any problems or hiccups along the way, and more likely to recommend you to others.
So how can you encourage this and strengthen the relationships you have with existing customers? Could some sort of customer loyalty scheme be the answer? And are you missing a trick by not including one as part of your nurturing activity?
The answer is…it really depends on your business model and finding the best fit for your individual customers. Remember, no amount of reward-based schemes will stop an unhappy client from leaving you. However, if you can focus on building strong relationships, getting to know your customers really well and making yourself and your product indispensable, then you’ll be flying.
Here are some other things to think about:
Time to think differently
When it comes to loyalty schemes, there is a vast difference between what works effectively in B2C relationships, and what may work for B2B customers. For example, it’s unlikely that a points-based scheme will be a good fit. With this in mind, it’s time to think about the mechanics of a loyalty scheme differently. A generic catchall is going to be far less effective than tailored rewards that are given to individual clients based on the detailed knowledge and insights you hold about them.
Delivering the reward
Depending on the length and complexity of your sales process, you are likely to be dealing with a number of people at different stages, rather than just one individual. Who are you going to reward? You may be on very dodgy ground here if you start rewarding and incentivising an individual for giving you the business of their workplace. It could even start to look like a bribe….eek! Again, you need to forget what you know of B2C schemes and approach this differently.
Who are you going to include in your loyalty scheme? The 80/20 rule may be a good place to start. This common business saying is based on the idea that around 20% of your customers will be responsible for 80% of your sales. While every customer is important and should be treated as such, these top customers are ones you definitely cannot afford to lose. One thing you may consider doing is introducing a tiered scheme that takes into account different ‘levels’ of customer (broken down in the way you see best).
Meet a need
Any loyalty scheme needs to be designed to meet a need your customer has. The idea is to build loyalty by showing how valued they are as a customer. It isn’t about discounts or getting money off. Get creative! Pool all the information you hold on clients across your different departments and pinpoint where you could add value through tailored rewards. For example, can you offer anything that will save them time in the order process, such as giving them a dedicated email address or phone line? What can you do or offer them that will go above and beyond? Can you help strengthen their competitive advantage in some way?
Offer real value
The secret to any good loyalty scheme is that it must give a customer real added value – i.e. be a proper reward for working with you. Sending out a few branded mugs is just not going to cut it and could be seen as a bit naff – not a thought you want to encourage. It is also worth bearing in mind here that customers who are with you a long time may begin to see the reward as the norm, rather than added value, and even begin to expect more of the same.
However you decide to reward your customers, there really is no match for establishing a strong connection. If you treat every customer as a VIP, listen to them and strive to be adding value at every opportunity then loyalty is likely to follow.