B2B Customer Retention Strategies

B2B Customer Service Strategy Guide Header

Every company should have the goal of turning their newly acquired customers into long-term clients. However, you can’t expect to keep your customers if you aren’t putting forth the effort. 

What can your customer service team do to keep your new and existing customers excited to continually work with you? 

In this chapter, we will cover:

  • The importance of customer retention
  • Ways to retain customers
  • Successful renewal strategies
  • How to re-engage inactive customers

Retaining, renewing, and re-engaging customers are all important strategies to increase revenue and build loyalty.

The Ultimate Guide to
B2B Customer Service Strategy

Why is B2B customer retention important?

You know a company is doing something right based on their customer retention rate. The higher the retention rate is, the more successful a business typically is. Retention leads to an increase in revenue, loyalty, and new customers. 

According to a study conducted in 2019, it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer compared to keeping an existing one. The cost difference alone is enough motivation to keep your customers happy.

As we’ve discussed, every aspect of the customer service experience points towards the goal of retaining and renewing your customers. Sadly, we also discussed that this is an aspect that businesses tend to overlook.

Not putting resources towards your customer service will lead to a lower retention rate, and in turn, lower ROI. In the end, it’s more money you’re losing out on while spending more money trying to bring in new clients.

In order to start prioritizing retention, it’s useful to know your customer retention rate.

How do you calculate your customer retention rate?

There is a 4-step formula when it comes to figuring out your customer retention rate:

  1. Find out how many customers you have at the end of a certain period of time
  2. Subtract the number of customers you’ve obtained during that same period of time
  3. Divide by the number of customers you had at the beginning of that period
  4. Multiply that by one hundred to get your percentage of customers retained

This formula works for any period of time, whether you’re calculating the retention rate for a month, week, quarter, or any other dates.

Now that you know why keeping your clients onboard is key and how to calculate retention rate, it’s time to discuss customer retention strategies.

B2B customer retention tactics

Multiple methods are required in order to retain customers. Much like how a flower needs soil, water, and sunlight to thrive, a customer requires a mix of tactics to be retained.

We recommend these 3 elements to grow a delighted client:

  1. Open communication
  2. Opportunities to provide feedback
  3. Gifts, gestures, and incentives

Keep in mind that your customers need to be satisfied with your solution or product. That can’t be overlooked for your retention efforts. But in addition to that, here are some customer service strategies that can increase your retention rate. We recommend these 3 components to keep your clients on board.

Open communication through multiple channels

Keeping your customer in the dark can have a negative impact on your relationship with them. Shed some light for your client through open communication. 

An “open door” policy is a fantastic way to have open communication. This means your clients can easily reach out to your customer service department for support. Provide multiple channels for customers to reach you, such as a direct phone line, email, and chat. In turn, your team should be responding to them quickly. 

Don’t take weeks to respond to your customers, even if you can’t resolve an issue for them right away. For example, if a customer service rep can’t help them then they should inform them they are being sent to the right tech support specialist.

Another method of open communication is by sending monthly newsletters with the latest news and tips about your product. You can also email special offers and occasionally call clients to see how they are doing.

Establishing open communication also allows for your client to provide product feedback.

Opportunities to provide product feedback

As a company, you should provide chances for your clients to leave feedback for the product they purchased.  You can’t expect suggestions if you don’t ask for them. In order to see product improvements, it’s best to set up several methods to receive feedback.

You can collect feedback through a variety of channels:

  • Email surveys 
  • Asking directly in conversations 
  • Requesting reviews 
  • Rating systems in the product interface
  • Customer satisfaction surveys at the end of support calls

How can you expect to improve your business and keep customers happy if you ignore what they have to say? Listening to and applying feedback shows the customer you are listening to them. It plants a positive experience in their mind while improving your product for future customers.

Another effective tactic for retention is to surprise them with gifts and other incentives.

Gifts, gestures, and incentives

A small act of kindness can go a long way and will leave a lasting impression on your customers. One recent study found that over 80% of companies saw an improvement in client relationships because of their gift-giving efforts.

Keep in mind that these gestures don’t need to take up your entire day or budget. For example, you can email a client a gift card as a thank you or if they reach a certain milestone.

For important accounts, you can send a small gift basket welcoming them as a customer. Since larger accounts generate a lot of your revenue, it’s key to go above and beyond for them in order to keep them retained.

There are many other incentives you can offer to keep your customers happy. For example, you can offer exclusive discounts to encourage customers to purchase another solution. You can also create a loyalty program for your clients that repeatedly buy from you.

Each method above can bring promising results when you are striving to retain customers. Keep in mind that there are also strategies you’ll need to implement when it’s time for a customer to renew their contract or subscription.

Successful renewal strategies that show results

As much as it’s every company’s dream for a client to sign a “customer for life” contract, that’s just not a possibility. That’s why you need to have campaigns and support ready to be deployed when it’s time to renew.

When should you begin the renewal process?

If your customer Consultant is doing something right, then they should have frequent conversations with your clients. During these conversations, your CSM should periodically mention renewal times and when their contract or subscription is set to expire.

Ideally, you should remind your customers when it’s time to renew 90 days, 60 days, and 30 days out from the expiration date.

The purpose of starting the process earlier is so that your clients aren’t shocked when it comes time to renew. Through email and calling efforts, you want to ensure that renewing is on the forefront of their minds.

The tone and messaging should differ for each time period:

  • 90 days before the contract expires: With a less urgent tone, mention that it’s time to start thinking about renewing. During this conversation, remind them of the benefits they have seen by using your products. You can also offer special offers or discounts if they re-sign with you now.
  • 60 days before the contract expires:  As the time to renew approaches, raise the urgency a little more. These conversations should focus more on the need for them to renew. You can continue to offer special offers or discounts if they choose to renew now.
  • 30 days before the contract expires: Now is the time to sound urgent without being overbearing. Your messaging should be geared toward them not wanting to miss out. You can do this by informing them of features and benefits they won’t want to lose.

Keep in mind that you may have clients who don’t want to renew. Don’t keep pushing them if they choose not to continue their partnership with you. However, having scheduled touchpoints helps when it comes to proper renewal methods.

Effective B2B renewal methods

No matter what tactic you use for your renewal efforts it’s important to know that you won’t always have a perfect success rate. Don’t get discouraged as you begin to roll out different renewal strategies. 

For a higher success rate, we recommend these methods:

  • Consultant calls or emails: As the owner of their customer relationships, your CSMs can be tasked with the responsibility of personally reaching out to your clients due for renewal. 
  • Outbound calling campaigns: One effective strategy for our own customer care clients is having customer service reps who are dedicated to securing renewals. Once a segmented list is compiled of customers up for renewal, these clients should receive calls reminding them that it’s time to renew their contract with your company.
  • Automated renewal email reminders: Email automation is a marketing function, but it can overlap with the customer service experience. Managed by your marketing team, an automated renewal email campaign saves time while still getting the point across that it is time to renew.

Each method allows for your client to be reached via different communication methods. While one tactic may not have an impact on your customer, another one could reach them. However, make sure you don’t bombard them with each strategy in a short period of time.

How to re-engage inactive customers for B2B

Inactive customers can be found throughout any business. That means each company can benefit from an effective re-engagement strategy.

You could probably think of a few of your own customers who aren’t fully utilizing the product they purchased from you. If they stopped using your product, they will most likely decline to purchase more of your products or renew with you when the time comes. You want to do all you can to remind them why they bought your solution in the first place.

There are a few tactics you can use to re-engage your customers:

  • Touch base
  • Seek out feedback
  • Ask for referrals
  • Engage with them on social media
  • Send a letter in the mail

Touch base

Your Consultant, or customer service reps, should touch base with your clients by reminding them to use the product, offer tips, and lend support. These discussions will feel more natural without making it sound like they only care about the sale. It allows for them to foster a real relationship between you and the customer.

Once that relationship has been established, your customer service team members can have confidence asking them for feedback.

Seek out their feedback

Just as important for re-engaging customers as it is for retaining them, asking for feedback from disengaged customers will make them feel appreciated and valued. 

Your customer care reps can ask your client for feedback about your product or how they can improve communication. This will help your reps learn more about them and how they can meet their needs. It’s also key to regularly ask for feedback. We recommend scheduling emails and surveys every few months seeking feedback.

As your Consultant and reps build a rapport through touchpoints and feedback, they can feel comfortable requesting referrals.

B2B referral program for inactive clients

Asking for referrals from inactive customers has two benefits. It gets your client thinking about you again and provides you with new leads. 

First, have your reps ask inactive clients if they know anyone that could benefit from your product. Then, they can remind them of the benefits that come with your product. Your reps can also offer incentives based on how many referrals these clients can generate for you.

Although there are plenty of strategies to generate new leads, this is one tactic that brings in new leads while reigniting your relationship with an inactive customer.

For a less direct — but still appreciated — approach, your CSM can engage with clients via social media.

Engage with them on social media

Your Consultants can interact with their clients’ social media posts, on sites such as LinkedIn, to allow for a more personal bond to form that enhances their work relationship. 

Once your CSM is following them, they can engage with their content by reacting, commenting, and sharing their posts. This makes it more likely clients will remember their Consultant. It also allows for your CSM to stay up-to-date with their latest news which will help them decide other solutions they can cross-sell or upsell.

You can also assign some of your customer service reps to responding to customers’ posts and comments that mention your company. 

If you are looking for a more personalized approach to re-engagement, your CSM can even send their clients a letter.

Sending letters to your B2B clients

Your customers are bombarded with countless calls and spam emails throughout the day, but how often do they get a personalized letter from a company? A letter is a friendly way to remind them that you are there for them. 

It’s best if the letter is handwritten, including the address on the envelope. We also advise a team member your client is familiar with, such as their Consultant, write this letter. This personalized touch will separate you from the competition.

As you apply these tactics to your own re-engaging efforts, remember that it’s best to try more than one of them since one strategy might be more effective for your business than another.

B2B retention strategies to reduce customer churn

Knowing effective methods to retain, renew, and re-engage customers is part of creating a positive customer service experience. 

As contracts expire and clients become inactive, these responsibilities always need to be given attention. Each strategy can be an integral part of your customer care experience.

The Ultimate Guide to
B2B Customer Service Strategy
Chapter 5: Building Customer Loyalty and Brand Advocacy in B2B through Customer Support
Now that you know customer retention strategies, it’s time to learn how to build customer loyalty and brand advocacy in the next chapter.

The Ultimate Guide to
B2B Customer Service Strategy

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