There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to making customers happy. In delivering excellent customer service, you have to consider the type of your business and what clients expect from you.
B2B companies—businesses that provide products and services to other businesses—must adopt a customer strategy that’s different from that of firms that cater to consumers (B2C). This is because managing a clients’ problems often entails higher-priority responsibilities compared with individual customers. When B2B managers fail to assist their clients, they put on the line not only their revenues but also their business partnerships.
Most B2B firms thus prefer to have their own in-house team of agents to assist their clients. This way, they can keep a close eye on their performance. However, availing outsourcing services is also a viable option, as long as you can clearly communicate your expectations and requirements to your provider.
To deliver excellent customer service to your clients, keep in mind these key differences between B2B and B2C customer care.
1. B2B companies have fewer customers.
B2B firms usually have tens to hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of clients, which is considerably smaller than the customer base of B2C companies. Although this is the case, however, every B2B transaction involves vast amounts of money. Therefore, each client is a vital business lifeline.
From a customer care perspective, this highlights the need to ace every customer interaction. Remember that you’ll be speaking not to individual customers but to an organization that’s much like yours. Every mistake can be costly and can threaten your business partnerships.
2. They encounter more complex issues.
Typically, the services that B2B companies provide are technical and highly specialized. It won’t be surprising to find that the first-call resolution rates of B2B customer support providers are much lower compared with B2C, because of the more complex issues in the B2B environment.
Therefore, you must see to it that your agents can match the level of expertise of your clients. You may also want to use different call center metrics to measure your performance more accurately.
3. They know their customers.
In the B2B marketplace, business–customers aren’t treated as consumers but more as business partners. Brands know who exactly their clients are, and most probably, they have interacted with them many times in the past. In contrast, B2C firms have only a vague idea about their customer, so it’s harder for them to personalize their services.
This means that customers of B2B companies have higher expectations when it comes to the services they get. They expect agents to know who they are and what they might need.
4. It’s harder to deal with recurring issues.
When you’re providing customer support to B2B firms, remember that you may get calls from multiple people who are part of the same organization. They’re using the same product, which means that they may be experiencing the same issues.
For agents, this sounds like a lot of hard work, since they’ll be repeating the same information to different individuals. And because they may be from the same company, you need to ensure consistency. To make this easier, you should create an organized protocol on how to handle repeat issues being raised by members of the same company.
5. Less social media, more email and phone.
The clients of B2B companies are also businesses, which means that they mainly use the products or services they purchased for work. For them, therefore, social media is less relevant than it is for customers of B2C firms. Customer service providers that cater to B2B firms therefore should focus more on email and phone-based solutions. This way, they can reach customers more easily.