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Customer churn is a top concern for any business—but especially B2B firms. If you aren't able to get on top of customer retention, your bottom line can be completely devastated.

The best way to reduce churn is to create a robust customer retention plan that both retains those all-important current customers and gives you a solid grounding to scale your business.

Why do B2B businesses need a customer retention plan?

Customer churn is part and parcel of owning a business, so it's normal to have customers leave every so often. However, if that "every so often" becomes "frequently," it's capable of ripping a big hole in your ability to run an effective B2B business.

In fact, preventable churn costs businesses $136 billion annually, according to recent statistics.

When your customers are businesses themselves, it's a good bet that once they've decided not to use your solution anymore, they'll go to one of your competitors.

That said, a good B2B customer retention plan isn't about being defensive. A decent strategy will keep your clients from running into the arms of a competitor for a while, but a top-notch retention plan will inspire your customer base, solidify loyalty, and create buzz around your brand.

Here are suggestions for building that plan.

Put customer education first

As good business owners understand, the customer journey doesn't stop once they've agreed to buy from you.

If your customers are left to use your solution without fully understanding its potential, they are likely to become frustrated and wonder what they're paying for. The No. 1 reason for service cancellation is a lack of ROI on a customer's initial investment after purchase, research shows.

What that means is education should sit right at the center of the onboarding process to ensure that your customers are aware of the potential of the solution you've sold to them.

Create explainer videos, schedule welcome emails, and keep customers informed of the latest versions of your product or service through regular communication.

You could have the greatest B2B solution in the world, but if your customers aren't educated about its potential, churn is likely to follow. Education begets loyalty.

Provide problem-solving resources

Once a business has invested in your solution, plenty of questions will be asked of you. Whether your business supplies SaaS solutions, physical products, or consultancy, it is expected to solve a pain point for another business. So if an issue crops up, you'll be expected to help solve it.

Of course, you won't have the time to address all of those issues personally, so it's a good idea to create resources that help customers solve problems themselves.

Create a bank of high-quality content that is readily available to your customers so they can solve an issue whenever it may arise.

Once you've put together a knowledge hub of videos, blogs, e-books, webinars, whitepapers, and other useful resources, you'll allow your customers the space they need to explore your product without your having to hold their hand.

Keep your ear to the grapevine

When customers decide they no longer wish to work with you, if you've been watching closely it won't come as a surprise. Red flags always pop up; by making an effort to watch out for them, you can prevent a customer from slipping away.

Red flags you should monitor:

  • Your customers haven't logged into your platform for a while
  • They've been searching for the terms of service or contract information
  • Their engagement levels with your product are dwindling

When a customer's behavior shows signs of waning interest, try reaching out personally to see what you can do to help. Sometimes the simplest gesture is enough to pull a customer back from the brink.

Personalize your service

Customers yearn to build connections nowadays, and the B2B world is no different. The more a customer interacts with you and your brand, the more resolute that customer's loyalty will become.

The cornerstone of a high-quality customer retention plan revolves around creating a personalized service offering. Create loyalty schemes, send out personalized messages, and provide content that pertains to their specific situation.

It may not seem like much, but that all adds up to a valuable experience for the customer, which is particularly important when there are multiple decision-makers in your customer's business who use your product for different purposes.

Listen to your customers

After investing your blood, sweat, and tears into a business, it's easy to get defensive when a customer provides constructive feedback. But in that feedback is the magic that retains customers.

We've all heard the phrase "every day is a school day," but taking in information is just the first step. You have to actually use feedback to best possible effect.

Show your customers how you're taking their suggestions. Doing so can elevate your relationship with them from a simple business arrangement to an effective partnership.

Make communication a priority

Communication is the foundation of a B2B partnership, and creating an active communication plan ensures that your customers are happy with the service you're offering them.

Even if your customers are content with the way things are, it's good practice to reconnect with them from time to time.

Of course, it's not only about setting up meetings to discuss business matters. It should go deeper than that: You're connecting with the human beings in that company.

Once you're able to create an organic and friendly relationship, you can find new ways to solidify their trust, solve emerging problems, and increase upselling and cross-selling.

Remind customers of their value

In B2B relationships, emotions will always run a little higher than usual. Everybody wants the best for their business, so owners, managers, and employees naturally expect their partners to strive for the very highest standards.

That's why reminding your B2B customers how much you value their partnership is a powerful tool. Each time you make contact with a customer is an opportunity to excite, delight, and deliver best-in-class customer service. That approach should be engrained in the DNA of your business.

Every time you interact with your customer base, you should seek to reinforce why they chose to work with you in the place. There's always room for a small token of gratitude when they least expect it: vouchers, a free service upgrade, and things of that nature show your customers how much you value their ongoing faith in you.

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Of course, the list of customer retention plan tactics in this article isn't an exhaustive one. Depending on your industry and the ways you interact with your customers, you'll think of how else you can bolster client retention.

However, by starting with the suggestions in this piece, you'll build a good foundation on which to grow your company and ensure your best customers stick around.

More Resources on Customer Retention Plans

Customer Retention: How to Assess and Improve Your B2B Customer Lifecycle

How to Find (and Keep) Customers of a Subscription Product: Wendy Connell of Storyblocks on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Stop Gambling With Customer Retention [Infographic]

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image of Ben Harper

Ben Harper is the CEO and founder of Meet Hugo, a sales intelligence platform.

LinkedIn: Ben Harper

Twitter: @benharper87