What constitutes B2B customer loyalty and how is it successful in the long term?
The best customers are the ones who come back. It is precisely these that make it necessary to pay the necessary attention to B2B customer loyalty in all its facets in order to be able to establish, maintain and, if necessary, revive a relationship that is successful for both sides in the long term.
Do B2B customers really have different needs than those observed among end consumers? Yes and no. For business customers, the focus is primarily on the efficiency of the product or service, which applies to both the costs and the benefits of a purchase.
B2B customer loyalty requirements:
– Higher prices than in the consumer market
The differing products and services that are on the market in B2B are to be distinguished above all in their price segment. These are often significantly more complex than products for the end consumer market. Conversely, it is just as natural that customers take a very close look at such high price ranges. After all, budgets must be adhered to and expenditures made as efficiently as possible. Losing customers to lower-priced competitors is therefore a constant risk.
– Longer buying cycles
In B2B, there is also the fact that purchase cycles are delayed for a longer period of time. Since investments are made for several months or even years, the decision-making process is completely different.
– New contacts
Of course it is possible to keep a good contact to the customer or the contact person in the customer company for years. However, personnel changes can be detrimental to customer loyalty, as the new contact person may have his or her own ideas regarding, for example, the investment points of the budget. In principle, the previous customer loyalty is then back at the starting point and has to be rebuilt.
The added value (economically) that a regular customer brings in with regular purchases is ultimately offset by the high effort and associated costs of acquiring new customers. Customer loyalty is therefore a very important factor, which is why the opportunities to strengthen this loyalty should be exploited in every form. In the course of digitization, this includes social media in particular. These are already strongly integrated in the B2C area and are now also becoming increasingly important for B2B marketing. If you decide to take this step, you have to take it all the way and not just half-heartedly, because it is important to appear professional, especially in social media.
Factors for a qualitative customer relationship
Theoretically, it is quite simple: the customer regularly buys from the same supplier, so he must be satisfied with him.
But customer satisfaction cannot be insured from this. In fact, however, there are ways and means of expressing the quality of the relationship between supplier and customer in figures and of taking appropriate measures to improve it if necessary. Here we refer to relationship marketing, which can be defined as follows:
“Customer Relationship Management, or CRM for short, refers to a company’s consistent focus on its customers and the systematic design of customer relationship processes.”
A key factor in achieving this goal is the quality of the relationship. It provides information about how the customer views the relationship with the selling company beyond his purchases. Possible ways to create this are:
Customer satisfaction can be understood in different ways, but it can be attributed to the fact that the previous purchase experience as well as the products/services have satisfied the customer.
Also here different levels must be differentiated: For example, the customer can trust his contact person or the company as a whole. At the personal level, trust can ensure that uncertainties on the part of the customer recede into the background. The customer is then more willing to take risks and make advance payments.
In B2B, this term is close to loyalty. In essence, it is about business partners seeing value in their relationships, and being prepared to invest a great deal of effort to maintain this value over the long term.
In summary: In such a relationship, positive experiences provide satisfaction and thus build enough trust in the longer-term perspective for the customer to overlook temporary dissatisfaction on the one hand and be willing to work to maintain the relationship on the other.
Also read our blog post on B2B marketing!