The Surprising Key to B2B Customer Loyalty

a "superior customer service experience...but 54 percent of their customers disagree." Do I have your attention now?

The fundamental problem businesses have is that they are too focused on internal metrics that they think impress or delight customers versus the ones that really matter, such as how customers feel when they have a problem. Most people who have positive experiences will share them with three people they know. However, those who have a negative experience with your company will share it with 10 people. To make matters worse, these 10 people will usually pass on your experience to others to whom they are connected. We call this the ripple effect. And since 70 percent or more of decision-making is based on emotions, and negative emotions (such as pain or frustration) are five times more likely to invoke change, it becomes easy to see that satisfaction metrics don't matter. Dissatisfaction metrics do.

Now view the world from your customers' perspective. How many different people do you interact with? How quickly do issues get resolved when you have problems? How many times do you get passed around the organization to get answers? How many calls and emails do you have to answer before an issue is resolved? Starting to get the picture?

Our B2B customers don't expect us to wow or delight them. Most businesses never fully empower employees to achieve this goal, so delighting is neither obtainable nor economical. Businesses that spend 10 percent to 20 percent more trying to delight customers don't increase customer loyalty, they just spend more money.

Instead of seeking delight, B2B customers just expect us to be easy to do business with. This includes limiting the number of interactions they have with us, because the more we hand off our customers to others to solve problems and the more we engage them with multiple sales and technical people, the better chance loyalty has of eroding.

Easy is delivering on the promises you make, resolving problems quickly when they arise, and making it simple for customers to engage with your organization. So instead of measuring customer satisfaction and profit reports, maybe you should be asking, "What can we do to make it easier for customers to do business with us?"" Make it easy and they will repurchase from you. Make it easy and they will buy more from you. Make it easy and they will recommend you to other businesses. Make it easy, and earn their loyalty.

Michael Hvisdos is founder and CEO of InQuizo, a business solution agency that helps Fortune 500 companies and start-ups worldwide develop and implement innovative solutions strategies, and messaging to accelerate growth.

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