Finding the Right Customer Retention Strategy

Anna Hohenstein
12 July 2019

Losing an existing customer can be a painful experience for a B2B company. A great deal of effort and expense would have gone into establishing and nurturing the business relationship. At the first sign that a client is planning to move to the competition, a firm would try its best to get the customer to reconsider its decision. 

But in many instances, it would be too late. It is critical that you establish your customer retention strategy and implement it soon after you acquire a new client. Don’t wake up only when the first signs of dissatisfaction emerge.

Here are some specific steps that you can take.

Measure customer satisfaction

Asking clients if they are happy with the services that you provide could be a good beginning. Start with the basics. Do you have an up-to-date list of clients and their email addresses and/or phone numbers? Put a lot of thought into who your questions are going to be addressed to. A logical choice would be to get feedback from the purchasing department. However, there may be other stakeholders to consider as well. You may also want to get inputs from the actual user of your product or service.

You would normally poll only a limited number of customers. It is important to make this list carefully. Try and include large customers as well as smaller clients. Instead of carrying out the exercise yourself, consider outsourcing it to an agency. If you do this, you are more likely to get an unbiased result.

Improve customer experience

A paper titled Improving the business-to-business customer experience published by McKinsey & Company describes how an elevator manufacturer altered its strategy when it realized that it was not addressing its clients’ needs appropriately.

The company was a supplier of elevators to large office buildings and residential complexes. Its traditional practice was to stay in touch with the facility-management teams at the locations where its elevators were installed. But this policy resulted in two highly influential sets of people being ignored. The presidents of the housing-owner associations and the users of the elevators also played an important part in the decision-making process.

When the company started tracking feedback from all three groups it was able to enhance overall customer satisfaction levels.

The McKinsey study also points out the relevance of using digital solutions to enhance client service levels. Many B2B companies use “track and trace” interfaces to help customers monitor various issues in real time. Specialized applications can be developed to keep a tab on a client’s complete details. This information can be accessed by the customer and can provide all the data that could possibly be needed.

Customer advocacy can keep existing buyers engaged

Client testimonials can be one of the most effective ways to convince buyers about the quality of your product or service. While this technique will help you attract new buyers, it will also provide you with an opportunity to stay in close touch with your existing customers.

When working on an advocacy program, select your advocates carefully. They should have been with your company for a certain length of time. They should also be regular buyers who have made a significant amount of purchases. Invite them to write content for your blog or contribute in some other manner to your marketing collateral.


There are two factors at the heart of every successful customer retention strategy. You must communicate with your clients and understand the issues that they face. When you are doing this, remember to keep in touch with the correct set of people at the buying company.

When you get to know about the problem that your customer is facing, it is absolutely essential to take the appropriate action. Customers are more likely to remain loyal if you understand the issues they face and assist them in finding a solution.

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