When you consider that it costs six to seven times more to acquire a customer than to retain one, and that the value of a happy customer over time goes far beyond what they may actually spend with you, you begin to understand why it’s vitally important to know what’s going on inside your customers’ heads.
Having a cogent understanding of what and how your customers think is not something that happens without effort.
Written surveys or other opportunities for customers to respond to satisfaction issues during the sales process are not without value, but they can never replace a detailed one-to-one interview for gathering actionable information.
Determining the presence of customer dissatisfaction and its root causes is the first step in addressing them, and actively addressing satisfaction issues demonstrates to customers exactly how important they are to you in a very concrete way. Encouraging feedback at all buying stages allows opportunities for the customer to discuss with you how you can better serve his or her needs and add more value. When you know what customers want, you can provide it; when you know how they feel, you’re in a position to influence it for the better.
The Client Audience
Every well-engineered marketing program strategically addresses multiple audiences, including prospects, investors, the press and a company’s own employees. One audience deserving extra special attention, however, is the existing client base.
Because of the dollar figures involved in some sectors of business-to-business marketing, the cost of losing existing customers can greatly exceed the cost of acquiring new ones. Therefore, in B2B, deriving an actual strategic advantage from loyal client relationships requires true differentiation. That means you have to be focused on providing not just great products and services but also on providing really first-class customer service, responsiveness, tailored offerings and cogent collaboration. Real client loyalty comes from actively linking customer feedback to the actions you take, and asking for feedback is pointless unless there is a rigid support process behind it.
Net Promoter Score
A tool we have successfully applied in B2B marketing programs is the Net Promoter Score or NPS. The score is derived by asking customers a single question: “On a scale of one to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to your friends and colleagues?” Only customers who give you a nine or 10 are “promoters” who are satisfied and loyal. Those who give you a seven or eight are vulnerable to competitive offerings, whereas those who score you six or below may actually impede your growth through negative word of mouth.
We follow this question with an open-ended request for elaboration and provide the reasons behind these customers’ dissatisfaction to front-line employees and management teams for follow-up action. In our experience, clients that introduce this kind of full customer satisfaction and client insight program build a powerful competitive advantage.
The key, however, is to ensure a program’s consistency and sustainability over time and to embed a customer-centric mindset at all levels of the company, and having top level buy in encourages company-wide engagement.
Building a Loyal Client Base
The equation is really very simple: Great products and exceptional service lead to customer satisfaction, customer satisfaction leads to loyalty, and loyalty leads to profits. The strength of business relationships is determined by the level of satisfaction with recent experience, overall perceptions of quality and perceived commitment to the relationship — but none of this can be made apparent until you ask.
When you have truly satisfied customers, they will not only continue to buy your goods or services, they will actively encourage their colleagues to do so as well. So the key to building your company is to start by asking the question … and acting on the answer.
This post originally appeared on the PharmExecBlog and can be read here.