By ZoomInsights Staff

Acquiring new customers can cost five times as much as retaining existing customers. But that doesn't mean that getting repeat B2B business is easy. Eric Fraterman is a customer-focus "transformist" who has B2B customer service consulting experience in more than 20 industries and six countries over 25 years. He told ZoomInsights that one of the keys is proactively staying in tune with your customers.

Customer Churn

According to Fraterman, one of the first steps to creating a successful retention plan is understanding the reason for your "customer churn." In other words, before you can understand how to retain your customers, you need to understand why they leave in the first place.

Tools that can help you get a handle on customer satisfaction issues include:

Once you understand the problems, said Fraterman, you need to get management on board to fix them before you market to customers. "The issues are often outside of the control of the marketing department," Fraterman said.

Proactive retention strategies

But truly great customer service is about being proactive, not reactive – staying on top of customer needs rather than just responding to problems. And at the core of retention programs is good customer service. Marketers trying to stay ahead of the curve need to start with the basics, such as on-boarding, email campaigns, customer loyalty programs and complaint management.

Complaint management is perhaps one of the biggest parts of a good customer retention strategy. As Fraterman explained, something always goes wrong and it's how you respond to those problems that matters. Fraterman added, "Companies that manage a complaint well are more likely to see repeat customers." Making it easy for customers to report problems, fixing the issues fast, offering restitution and following up to make sure the customer was satisfied with the solution all lead to good complaint management.

Lessons from B2C

"In the old days we said B2B (purchasing) was all rational," said Fraterman. But these days consumers have spectacular customer service experiences in their private lives and carry those expectations over into their business lives. "We're used to, in our mindset, a certain service level," he added. At the office we're not saying, "This is B2B; I'm lowering my expectations." Fraterman suggests B2B marketers look to companies like Zappos – famous for its customer service – when looking for customer retention tips.

While some of the challenges that face B2B companies may be different, the solutions are often the same as in the consumer market. According to Fraterman, "The bar is being raised…Wake up and start to think like a B2C."

Know about customer staff changes

Keeping in touch with the right people at customer companies is essential, but customers don't always tell you when key staff members change. ZoomInfo can keep your customer data up-to-date with continuously updated, detailed profiles on more than 65 million businesspeople and six million companies. Learn more.

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