Customer interactions and relationships are central to the success of both B2C and B2B incentive and reward programs. But how each segment prioritises these have historically been different. B2C is seen as prioritising interactions and communications as a path to greater loyalty and repeat purchasing. B2B has direct relationships with their customers and this can make the need for ongoing communications less relevant. This because there is a sales team doing that as part of their role.
Direct relationships that B2B channels have with their customers can only be viewed by B2C brands with envy. But we see the importance of the investment in B2C programs. I.e. with teams of data scientists and budgets following through. In a B2C environment details of individuals exist, and there are ways to easily track their behaviour over time.
For B2C programs, there is often a push to generate high loyalty at a low cost. That comes from understanding what incentives resonate with various audiences. Aso, who to target those incentives at, and tracking outcomes over time. As those programs move forward, marketing helps them know how much influence campaigns have had and when they worked. These interactions lead to more customer data, overarching profiling, and targeted communications. But at the end of the day, customers relationships are data fields in a CRM or database.
Flip that to B2B, where loyalty comes from knowing the individual company or key people in business clients. Personal relationships are the key outcome. But with data analytics used as in a B2C environment, vendors would know the behaviour of their buying cohorts well enough to target their B2B incentives that will drive a change at an individual level. B2B typically wants to recognise the top customers, higher purchasers or have the knowledge to anticipate 95% of time when purchase decisions are made. The brand loyalty approach used in B2C can cost more but has long term gains and overtime easily amortised.
Once B2B brands and programs embrace analytics as much as B2C has, we think a deep understanding of individual customers will empower brands to better drive behaviours and close the value gap driven by individual customers within a business.