As the field of customer service continues to undergo significant changes, support teams and “customer success” teams are more important than ever in helping forge positive relationships with B2B (business-to-business) customers.
However, creating honest communication and earning the trust of your B2B customers can be tricky—especially if you aren’t even sure where to start. Here are a few key ways you can begin establishing trust with your B2B company customers and improving those relationships:
Improve Your Communication/Build Rapport
When it comes to communication, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s important to understand that every customer is different—while some customers may prefer to handle business over the phone, others may insist on a face-to-face meeting to get things done.
Instead of trying to convince or force the customer into communicating how you usually do, it’s a much better idea to adapt your communication style to theirs. You can start by paying attention to how they ask to communicate—through the phone, email, or face-to-face meetings. By communicating in the way the customer wants to, they’ll naturally feel more comfortable with you and your business. Ensure you constantly improve your communication methods to serve customers more effectively.
Another way that you can improve your communication and build rapport is by being upfront. When businesses make promises that they can’t deliver on or try to hide the mistakes they’ve made, it only breeds mistrust and fractures the relationship. Although everyone understands that there’s the occasional user error or system outage, exaggerating your product’s abilities or the outcome is only going to make you look dishonest when you can’t deliver.
By setting realistic expectations with your customers on what you can give them, nobody will be let down or feel as if they’ve been misled.
Find A Solution For Late Invoices
Even if things seem to be on the right track, your B2B relationships can feel as if they’ve hit a road-block when it comes to late invoices or delayed payment. After you’ve provided a service or product, the next part of the process usually includes the invoice—or your customer paying you for your services.
However, outstanding invoices can put your business in a cash crunch. While you wait for your customers to pay up, your business can feel as if it’s stuck in a stand-still—without the cash flow, you’re unable to expand your business or seek out new opportunities.
This is where invoice factoring can come in. Rather than waiting around for your customers to pay their late invoices, invoice factoring can give you the cash flow that you need to expand. Invoice factoring allows you to sell your accounts receivable to a factoring company in exchange for the cash you need.
Keep in mind that invoice factoring is a sale, not a loan—therefore, it won’t impact your credit the same way that traditional financing would.
Although establishing a B2B relationship may seem like the tricky part, the real challenge is maintaining that relationship over a long period of time. Any positive relationship has a balanced amount of “give and take”—if your customer feels as if they aren’t gaining as much as they’re giving, they may go somewhere else. The best way to solve this issue is by rewarding loyalty with a loyalty program.
The best loyalty programs can minimize the customer churn rate and make the customer’s experience even more positive. However, when it comes to creating a loyalty program, you’ll need to examine your customers’ interests and needs. The perfect loyalty program for one business may fall flat with your buyers.
No matter the program size or actual rewards, it is essential to acknowledge business or brand loyalty. Some loyalty programs may be as simple as inviting your best clients (or those who have been with you the longest) to special conferences or exclusive forums for more one-on-one time. Regardless of what your loyalty program may be, the goal should always be to make your customer feel as if they’re gaining as much as they’re giving.
Be More Transparent
Along with improving your communication, being more transparent can go a long way in establishing B2B relationships that will last the test of time. Regardless of what your process or service may be, some customers may choose not to invest if they don’t feel as if they’ve got a clear understanding of who your company is or what they do.
The best way to show transparency with your B2B customers is by staying honest and being upfront about your company’s processes. Once your buyer feels as if they’ve got a clear picture of what your brand does and how they operate, they’ll be more likely to trust you in the long run.
Keep in mind that your B2B customers don’t just want to hear how trustworthy your company is—they want to see your brand identity with their own two eyes.
Technology has transformed most fields—including B2B relationships. Technological advancements like cloud-based CRM, automation, and even social media have dramatically transformed the framework of B2B relationships.
Although keeping up with the constant technological changes can be time-consuming and even overwhelming, it can pay off in the long run. For instance, one 2014 study illustrated that CRM returns could equal as much as $8.71 in sales revenue for every dollar that’s spent.
Transparency in business is a critical need for growing companies. Social media is another area where B2B relationships are thriving. Not only can a social media presence expand your company’s reach and influence, but it’s also a great way to build brand integrity as well. Many social media sites allow you to interact directly with your B2B customers in a way that makes both parties feel comfortable. Since transparency is often crucial to B2B relationships, social media can be another area where the customer can get a “feel” for your brand’s identity.
One critical step you can take to improve your relationship with your B2B customers is by asking for their feedback. While you may be able to use technology to examine your customers’ needs, the best way to figure it out is by asking them directly. Seeking feedback can vary from company to company—while some brands may ask valued customers what they think in a face-to-face meeting, others may send out surveys.
Although different companies may have different methods of seeking feedback, how they handle that feedback should be the same. When you open yourself up for feedback, your customers will likely have a few complaints about your business procedures (and maybe a few praises too).
Not only is it essential to receive that feedback with an open mind, but it’s also important to examine how that feedback can strengthen your business. If a section or part of your process isn’t working well for your customers, it may be time to re-work it or eliminate it all together. In contrast, if there is a part of your process that resonates with your customer base, it might be time to examine why that is (and how you can expand on that).
Whatever your approach may be, you need to understand the value of relationship strategies for B2B companies. B2B relationships can be the foundation of many companies—without forging a strong connection, your customers may feel as if their time and money might be better off somewhere else. Fortunately, with honest communication, invoice factoring, transparency, technology, loyalty programs, and feedback, you can begin establishing B2B relationships that will last the test of time.