While it might seem that B2B and B2C customer service have a lot in common, in fact, there are a lot of aspects that differentiate them. The most significant difference is that B2B companies are focused on long term relationships with their client, and B2C brands often expect immediate results. Moreover, the audience, channels and ways of communication with customers might differ strongly.
To find out how to deliver excellent customer service for your B2B clients, check out our article.
In this article, we'll cover:
B2B vs. B2C
B2B and B2C need different communication channels, different ways to deal with their issues and different approaches from the support teams. But what exactly needs to be done differently? What are the key differences between B2B and B2C that set them so far apart?
B2B’s tend to have a smaller customer base than B2C’s. But, it doesn’t mean that the impact from them dealing with their clients is smaller and less important. On the contrary. Each transaction of B2B companies usually adds up to thousands of dollars if not more. That is why the loss of at least one client can have catastrophic results and even influence the future of the company as a whole.
Unfortunately, there is no way to calculate the average price of losing a B2B client, but if you are a B2B vendor, you can easily count it for yourself according to the formula provided here.
B2B customer support needs to see and understand what is happening with the company as a whole, rather than with a single client. This means that B2B customer service needs to know the business they are dealing with inside and out which, in its turn, will require a lot of training.
Vendors in B2B world have to give their customers a lot of personalization options. But it is much harder to achieve here than in B2C. All because of the sheer volume of work and resources needed to personalize your small business answering service for every client. It is especially true when your customers themselves are big and popular businesses trying to adapt to the requirements of their clients.
B2B companies have a higher chance of having issues and tickets which are more complex than those of B2C’s. Usually more time and effort is needed to resolve these issues completely. Very often there is no scenario according to which the issues might be resolved. With B2C clients resolving the matters usually takes a smaller amount of time and it can often be done by following a certain script.
B2B and B2C Differences in Customer Service
B2B clients, even though they are usually bigger and have issues more complex than B2C’s are just that — clients. They all want to be on a receiving end of a good customer service 24/7. And B2B companies are now investing more into developing and improving one of their most valuable marketing tool — great customer service.
A lot of the companies are even hiring Customer Success Managers in order to make sure that their customers are getting all the attention and tools they need to succeed. Here are some numbers to back up this theory:
- 51 percent of B2B representatives are saying that they started to avoid vendors after a bad customer experience.
- 66 percent of B2B clients stopped collaborating with their vendors after a bad customer service experience.
- 62 percent of B2B customers purchased even more from the vendors with good customer service.
But bad customer service is not the only thing that can cost a B2B company their clients. Mistakes, if made regularly, can become the reason for clients leaving.
What Are the Most Common Mistakes Made by B2B Vendors?
- 😐 Sometimes they can ignore their clients
A lot of B2B companies do not go beyond billing their clients once a month. Lack of communications with the service provider might be a legitimate reason to drop the collaboration altogether.
- ⏰ They do not update their clients on how they are doing
Leaving your customers in the dark is one of the worst things you can do. But, unfortunately, as a rule B2B companies update their clients only once a year with an annual report. That is simply not enough.
- 😶 They do not care whether their clients develop
Revenue is an obsession for modern businesses. Just as we pointed out before — some B2B vendors care only about profiting. They think that development and growth of the client depend on the clients themselves. All they have to do is provide their services and that is it.
- 🤝 They underestimate personal communication
Communicating with your clients solely on the phone or via email takes away the pain of travelling, for sure. But nothing can replace the pleasure of talking with your customer face-to-face. Never underestimate the value and effect of a personal touch.
- 💾 They do not have anything innovative to offer
According to these metrics 49 percent of B2B vendors admit that their business falls short of being cutting-edge. This means that almost half of vendors understands that their product needs upgrading, but still never update it. Imagine that you are a customer of such a company. Would you stay with them?
The Main Challenge of B2B Companies
Even if you have an excellent customer support service and some exposure in the market, the main challenge for a B2B company would be signing up new customers.
The field of B2B is very competitive. The speed with which different solutions appear at the market is staggering. But even so, finding the solutions which can withstand the conditions of the market and survive in the long run is pretty hard.
Signing new customers requires offering something innovative in the very beginning as well as improving your services as you go. What are the main points that B2B vendors need to work on if they want to attract new and retain old clients?
1. Personalize Everything as Much as Possible
As we have already covered, B2B clients need personalization. A lot! And any of the services need to make sure that their platform is going to provide their customers with the best personalized experience ever, all the while giving them the access to the entire spectrum of top-notch services.
2. Make Room for Growth
Any business, especially a successful one, wants to know that there is room for growth and improvement. And you, as a Business to Business vendor need to understand and indulge this need. Remember, that no client is going to stick with the company that is not promising any development and growth.
3. Invest Into the Best Support Team
It is natural — if you want to provide the best customer experience, you need to have the best customer support team. The more experienced and qualified your team is going to be, the more likely it is that up- and cross-selling is going to go smoothly. Plus, your clients are never going to leave you, if you are providing the best service possible.
4. Take Active Part in Your Clients’ Business and Personal (within Boundaries) Life
We live in the world of templates and scenarios. That is why having a personal touch is never going to hurt. If you want to have a reputation of the best B2B vendor, you will have to follow not only the business performance of your clients, but also their personal and corporate lives. Send them gifts for the holidays, invite them over and introduce to the team. Make sure they feel special and welcome with every letter and every phone call.
‼ Important note:
- DO NOT overstep business boundaries.
- DO NOT try to force a friendship with your client even if they are a very pleasant person.
- DO NOT annoy your customers with personal letters and unnecessary signs of attention.
- DO NOT ignore basic business politeness.
5. Ask for Feedback Regularly
If asking for feedback is not on your agenda, then it absolutely should be. How else are you going to learn your clients’ opinions? How can you possibly grow and develop to suit your clients’ needs even more, if you do not even know what it is they need? It is a good tone to ask your clients for feedback once every three-four months. This way you are not going to fall out and will be absolutely certain that you are doing everything to keep your customers satisfied.
B2B Customer Service Best Practices
Theory is for sure important. But are there any real examples of B2B customer experience being so good, you just can’t help but talk about them? Well, sure! Here are just some of them.
1. Assign Customer Success Manager to Each Customer (if Possible)
This is a practice that is already implemented at Workday. Customer Success Managers make sure that all the client’s needs are met, that the team is trained and that everything runs smoothly. Of course for B2B as an employer it might take a lot of resources and a long search of all the specialists, but in the end it will certainly pay off.
If you need to hire a CSM, you can find a full guide here.
2. Show Your Business From the Inside
This is a tactic employed by GE, Knotel and Sodexo. Seeing how your business works and which specific steps you can take to help each of your customers grow will really put your clients’ mind at ease. Do not be afraid to show them parts of your process and be open about what you can offer. They need to know what they are paying for.
3. Make Your Programs Integratable
Your product needs to seamlessly integrate with what your customers usually use. No one wants to have to install a whole other set of apps and programs in addition to what they are already using, especially if the new software requires extensive learning. Take it from Wells Fargo and IBM — smooth integration is going to make all the difference in the world for your customer.
4. Be Proactive
Do not wait for your customer to contact you and ask for a solution or an update. Contact them first, when you have the answer or the solution. Congratulate them on all the holidays and send them different surveys in order to understand if they are satisfied with the services provided. This is the way Fidelity is doing business and something tells us that soon this approach is going to become even more wide-spread.
B2B in a Modern World
In general B2B clients have higher standards when it comes to customer service. Why? It is simple: they deal with customers themselves, and they need to see as much care and attention as they are providing for their own clients. They require more agility and flexibility. They need room for growth and development. And if you, as a B2B vendor are ready to meet these (and many more requirements) then you would have a good chance of survival in a modern B2B world.