No matter what business you're in, the experience that you offer to your customers
is more high stakes than ever. It's no secret that consumers are seeking more personalization, speedy issue resolution and positive outcomes. It's an expectation that's usually associated with customers in business-to-consumer (B2C) models, which can occasionally leave business-to-business (B2B) customers out in the cold.
In truth, the B2B model of customer experience is beginning to look more and more like its B2C cousin every day, with a twist: while 52 percent of B2C customers say they'll take their business to a competitor after one bad customer care experience, that number rises to 66 percent when the customer is in a B2B relationship
So this Valentine's Day, remember that B2B customers need love too! Here are 33 little (and big!) ways to show them some:
Personalize Your B2B Customer Care Strategy
1. Make your clients' business your own
Learning about what your B2B customers do for their own consumer base is vital to bringing them onboard in the first place, but a quick refresher is a proactive way to keep up with their needs.
2. Understand your client's industry
Conduct similar research on your customers' industry: keep up with the latest news in the industry and verticals that affect your client. Subscribing to industry publications and visiting tradeshows keeps interactions focused on resolutions and not re-education.
3. Create a community space for your B2B clients
B2B customers are increasingly looking for self-help channels and faster ways to reach you – and each other. Online community spaces like forums allow you to showcase how responsive you are to customers, provide vital feedback to you and connects your developers and decision-makers right to the customers they serve.
4. Welcome them aboard with a box of goodies
Who doesn't love getting a care package? Welcome emails are wonderful, but don't stop there! Sending valuable information and resources alongside a few treats and branded freebies are a nice touch. Personalize this welcome package, too, to make sure it adds extra value to your customer's specific needs.
5. Keep up with what they offer their customers, too
When your client rolls out a new service or product, make sure you congratulate them on the achievement. Better yet, get your hands on what they're providing if you can – it will allow you to gain an even deeper understanding of what they do.
6. Celebrate their special days...
Make note of the landmark days your customer might celebrate. Do they have an anniversary party every year? An annual achievement they strive for or a special charity event they sponsor. Recognize those days by reaching out with good wishes demonstrates a sense of empathy.
7. ...And your own
Marking the days that matter to you by reaching out with a personal message that says "couldn't have done it without you" or an invite to a celebratory event shows clients that you value the ways your organizations intersect beyond profit. One extra special day for you? The day you signed a contract with your customer to make it "official".
8. Welcome new members to your client's team and wish departing ones well
Establishing connections between new faces and making a point to say farewell to longtime contacts as they join the team or retire from it shows a willingness to acknowledge the individuals behind the partnership.
9. Basically? Treat your clients like the people they are
Really, there is no difference between B2B and B2C relationships if you consider that both are, at their core, business-to-human interactions. Your customers represent a company, but they are themselves people, and a warm, personal partnership will trump sterile corporate interactions every time.
Provide Ample Opportunity to Exchange Feedback
10. Create feedback loops that allow for the constant discovery of client wants and needs as they change
Don't just wait to hear that there is an issue before you pick up the phone or start sending emails. Check in frequently even if things are running smoothly. Check in frequently especially when things are going great and note the positive feedback. Keeping your clients front of mind when everything is running smoothly will keep that positive image front of mind for your clients when it's not.
11. Think beyond cost: talk about how you will quantify the quality you promise.
Don't just say you'll deliver something of high value. That's subjective. Find ways to measure the results your B2B customers want, and then codify them. Write key performance indicators (KPIs) into Service Level Agreements and contract renewals. Show that you can walk the talk.
12. Solicit frequent high-level feedback...
High level feedback is granular and insightful. It identifies what's working really well and what could use more attention, so it's worth its weight in gold. Schedule ongoing meetings by week or quarter and then practice active listening.
13. ...And then DELIVER results
This is why you go after the good stuff in the first place. If you want to know how things are going, and your customer needs you to step it up, thank them! Then instead of delivering a vague promise about striving to improve, decide which steps to take toward the desired outcome and update them on the progress you make.
14. Embrace change! Stay agile by adapting offerings to your clients' changing priorities
If businesses couldn't adapt, they wouldn't be businesses for long. You probably implement change initiatives that allow for growth all the time, and so does your client. If you can offer them something that helps alleviate those growing pains, like an added service or a series of trainings, make it a point to let them know.
15. Answer questions quickly and honestly
Even if you aren't sure they will like the answer you provide, transparency is key if you want to elevate your B2B relationships past "trust but verify" to "trust intuitively", that means being straightforward about what you can and can't achieve. Never overpromise.
16. Better yet, provide the answers to questions your clients haven't even thought of yet
Try to anticipate what your clients might be looking to change, revisit or add during your frequent check-ins so you can provide more immediate access to the information they might need.
Offer B2B Clients Tangible Tokens of Appreciation
17. Be generous with discounts and upgrades
If you see a way that you can thank a longtime loyal B2B customer or come to a point where you need to make something right, discounts and upgrades are a great way to do it. If a client wants to try a new service and it doesn't require a complex functional realignment, why not let them pilot it? Especially if you're sure they'll love it, let them give it a spin before your competitors do.
18. Send a note to say thanks
Another great way to say thanks? By just coming out and saying it. A handwritten expression of gratitude can seem like a rarity in today's world, but it's a tangible thing that takes only moments.
19. Send a note just because
You don't have to wait for your customer to reach out to get in contact with them. A simple hello, or a reminder that your door is open or even just a note to wish them a great week is always appreciated.
20. Send them referrals
When its appropriate, few things are more valuable to the business you do business with than potentially sending them a little business of their own. No matter the size of a company, word-of-mouth recommendations from reputable sources are always worth their weight in gold.
21. Remember that everyone loves a party
Inviting VIP clients to an annual appreciation shindig or a celebration your organization holds regularly is a great way to let them know that you value what they bring to your inner circle.
22. Remember that everyone loves (useful) swag, too
Sure, ballpoint pens are nice, but unique branded goodies that your client can use regularly, like well-made notebooks, portable charging devices or personalized laptop sleeves that will hold up to busy travel schedules are all much likelier to see frequent use and feel more like gifts than disposable marketing junk.
23. Organize an open house and invite your clients to come to grab a cup of coffee
Transparency, trust and open communication are all cornerstones to long-lasting partnerships. Just as you want to make sure your B2B buyers know you see them as individuals with individual needs, open houses offer them the same opportunity. Lift the veil a little and break out the good snacks for a day of less formal interactions.
24. Roll out the red carpet when out-of-town customers come to see what's new
If you work in a space where site visits to business units and property are part and parcel of the business you provide, make sure your customer knows that you appreciate what it takes to be far from home. Send a car to the airport or have a gift basket and personalized note waiting at the hotel.
Foster Conversations That Prioritize B2B Customer Care Online
25. Follow them on social media and show them some love
Getting onto social media platforms that your customers have a presence on and then following along serves two purposes. First, you get a great idea of what imaging they value for a front-facing audience. Second, every like, wow, love and share gives them a little visibility boost.
26. Shine a spotlight your shared values
27. Feature the content they create when its relevant...
B2B Marketers can leverage the great content that customers provide. Do a round-up of blog posts from your B2B customers when they fit a campaign's topic, or highlight well-crafted resources and thought leadership pieces on your company's LinkedIn page.
28. ...And curate your own when you know it would benefit them
If you have a gated resource or an on-point article that you know a B2B customer would find insightful, reach out! Get their thoughts, and feature their comments.
29. Give them great feedback in public and private
All relationships go both ways, even B2B partnerships. If you want your customer to know how much you love doing business with them, you'll want the world to know, too. So shout it from the rooftops, or from a detailed Google Review submission form.
Accountability is a Critical B2B Customer Care Tool
30. Make change implementation a conversation, not a dictate
Your client isn't the only one that will find themselves needing to make changes to their services, offerings and functional operations. If you need to make changes to something that affects how your client does business with you, they need more than an impersonal email with a 24-hour block of lead-time beforehand. Communicate changes you make in your tech, contact channels, price and offerings well in advance of when you need to execute them. Invite feedback and ask for what you can do during the change implementation to make the transition as seamless as possible and roll their stated needs into the tactical plan you make for the actual change.
31. If you do miss the mark, acknowledge it immediately...
Eventually, something will go wrong. Refusing to prepare for potential mistakes will only make the damage worse, so decide now how you will respond to everything from little missteps to serious oversights. Hope for the best but plan for the worst, and when the road gets a little bumpy, respond with curiosity and integrity instead of defensiveness.
32. ...and then make it RIGHT
There's a saying: "The best apology is changed behavior." You can apply that to B2B customer care by pairing your apology with a detailed plan for the steps you're taking to making it right. Keep clients updated on your progress.
The One Best Practice in B2B Customer Experience You Can't Skip
33. Remember that everything can be improved
Your baseline for minimum customer care should always be one where you are meeting your customer's expectations to a degree they find truly satisfactory. That's table stakes. Don't think of improvement as the action you take when things are going poorly. Think of it instead as the natural next step in your customer care strategy. Finding ways to build upon the things your clients are delighted with is the best way to show them some love.
Here at Personiv, we pride ourselves in the white glove approach to customer care within the decades-long partnerships we've formed. Our customers have allowed us to grow with them, and we always strive to show our gratitude by finding new and better ways to delight them. We know that every customer is different, which is why we work to tailor our cost-saving, efficiency-building solutions to their needs, with their input at every stage and beyond.
If you're ready to see what a B2B partnership that values empathy and prioritizes communication, get in touch today. It could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. But why take our word for it?
Here's what our clients have to say: