B2B brands want to build deeper relationships with their customers. The kind of relationships that go beyond transactions...a trusted partnership. A mutual respect and caring for the benefit of one another.
This is a nice sentiment, and it is achievable, but the proof is in the putting, or rather actions speak louder than words.
Unfortunately, many brands say they want to be customer-centric, but what they really want are the rewards of customer-centricity while only paying lip service to what it takes to actually grow a mutually beneficial partnership with customers.
It's easier now, more than ever, for customers to call bull shiitake on such rues and take their share of wallet elsewhere.
So how do you build an infrastructure to start scaling this customer relationship building process?
First, it all starts with people. You have to ensure your own house is in order before you worry about building deep reciprocal relationships with your customers. If you take care of your own employees, those employees will take care of your customers, and profits will take care of themselves.
That being said, once you find yourself in a position ready to wrap some tools and processes around your efforts to cultivate better customer relationships and ultimately customer advocacy at scale, you'll want to understand exactly what those tools and processes will help you (or rather, your customers) achieve.
What actual incentives do your customers enjoy (physical rewards, swag, etc.), but for the long haul, what intrinsic value are your customers seeking by building a partnership with you, your organization and brand? Also, how/where do your customers participate in this relationship-building realm.
So essentially, having some sort of scaleable online platform is a likely ideal tool to reach many customers and/or have them interact with one another (peer-to-peer, which is vitally important - you're not the only one, or in some cases, even the best, at answering questions about your company's products/services/use cases).
At the least, do you have an online platform that allows your customers...
To answer yes to all the questions above may be as simple as connecting with your customers via an email newsletter, or a LinkedIn customer group. You might be able to advance the group and its collective benefits with more specific tools like, a community platform or a gamified advocacy platform.
Regardless, if you can answer the above questions and make the customer experience to participate in it straight-forward and simple, you and your customers will start to reap the benefits of building a meaningful partnership together, at scale.
And to drive the point of such a platform (whatever you choose to use, and where ever you decide to start, or graduate to), the delight and initial value of participating is the doorway to your customers doing much more, sticking around longer, and eventually becoming your brand's advocates.
The following is photo of a section of George Howard's book, Everything in its Right Place, which is about blockchain technology in the music industry. Howard references how the Internet of Things (IoT) will lead its adoption by way of Amazon's Echo (voice activated) device as a music player.
I point it out because it illustrates how a customer platform needs to be "dead-simple" in solving a very basic yet needed/wanted challenge for your customer (to learn about your industry/product/services and/or connect to peers in the same boat) to be able to draw them in, and then likely, if initially delighted enough, they will stick around and explore other things leading to more intrinsic value, trust, and a deeper partnership over time.
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