Ouch. The title of this post is something I hear often when generating leads.
Is it true? Are relationships all you need?
Relationships are amazing, but they are not enough to keep your customer happy.
B2B organisations need structured customer relationship processes just as much as consumer-facing businesses. What’s more each of those processes must work across organisational silos. If your supply chain can’t hear the Voice of your Customer, your customer may not be happy.
When we think about such processes, we turn to CRM. While CRM systems now include customer service functions, their core remains customer acquisition. On the other hand, Wikipedia has a nice definition of CRM.
Customer relationship management (CRM) is an approach to manage a company’s interaction with current and potential customers. It uses data analysis about customers’ history with a company to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth.
Thinking about retention, rather than acquisition, is important.
Is customer experience important in B2B relationships?
If your business has succeeded as a result of your relationships, then you might dispute the need to manage customer experience. Here’s what Forresters have to say on the subject:
B2B buyers are acting more like consumers every day.
Should we manage our customer experience because a happy customer is a repeat customer?
IMHO that is only part of the reason for managing customer experience. I would say
We serve our customers to carry on getting to know them, understand their needs and aspirations, and grow with them.
B2B relationships often focus on immediate issues and the next sale. How often do you make the time to ask your B2B customers these three important questions?
- Can you quantify our performance?
- How do we need to be better?
- What are your plans for the future and where do we fit?
You might ask these questions already. If you don’t, get cracking. Find the best people to answer these questions honestly and be ready to explain what you will do with their answers.
The next stage
What are you going to do with their answers?
You will take action to improve your performance and you will align your business development with your customers’.
To succeed, you need accountability and communications. You need people who will fix issues, drive performance improvements and influence your strategy. BTW you also need governance to hold back a tsunami of objectives.
Going further you need to help your customers achieve their goals by showing them how to make the most of your goods and services and by adapting your offer to meet their current and future needs.