Customer loyalty has always been the goal for B2B businesses in the wholesale and retail sectors. Sales reps build personal connections with customers over years in an attempt to earn this loyalty. However, this can take a lot of time and resources to maintain, for businesses and their customers.
Unfortunately, it is no longer enough to have a personal connection with a customer to make them stay. The rise of ecommerce has meant they can now get what they want from a competitor with just a click.
Instead, this connection needs to add value to a customer and exceed their expectations. As Steve Jobs once said “Get closer than ever to your customer. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves.” One way to achieve this is to use digital platforms such as ecommerce or self-service portals which streamline the customer service process and make it more cost-effective.
Yet despite these benefits, there is still a lot of concern about how a customer’s loyalty will be affected if these platforms are implemented.
The short answer is it won’t. It is the overall level of customer service that is provided on the path-to-purchase which impacts a customer’s loyalty. The most common issues being a lack of information about products, the product is out of stock or a competitor is cheaper.
Digital platforms can actually safeguard a customer’s loyalty by helping businesses overcome these issues. Despite misconceptions, the ‘human’ connection with customers is not lost. But it does mean businesses are able to:
- Gain better insights into customer preferences so they can ensure they have the right products in stock.
- Create tailored promotions and recommended products which are based on customer preferences and buying behaviours.
- Ensure prices always reflect what a customer has negotiated.
- Help customers stay on top of consumer trends through the promotion of niche products.
- Send immediate order confirmations, thus also saving the sales team time.
- Deliver frequent news and updates through eshots and blogs.
- Provide real-time stock availability and pricing.
Therefore, to thrive in today’s competitive market businesses need to be able to react rapidly to their customers changing needs. Branding, reputation and product catalogues are no longer enough to avoid losing customers to more-engaging competitors. The delivery of a personalised customer experience is now essential and businesses must embrace digital platforms to ensure their customer service levels are maximised.
Guest article written by: Shannon Elkins, Marketing Executive, www.Oporteo.co.uk. Oporteo, an ecommerce platform specifically designed to help wholesalers and distributers overcome these challenges in an easy and cost effective way. Oporteo’s online ecommerce platform offers a variety of facilities to help businesses self-manage their site, which reduces external development and consultancy costs and provides flexibility in the development of changes and design.