B2B Customer Service: Why It’s Important and How to Improve it
It’s common knowledge that the sales and marketing strategies to win over B2B clients are very different from those that are used to attract B2C customers. We use different channels, expect different behaviors and create specific personas for each of these buyers. So why would we expect the same customer service strategy to work for both?
B2B companies – or businesses that sell to businesses – expect a more hands-on approach when it comes to customer service. In fact, it is very common in B2B customer service to have ‘Success Managers’ mapped to certain high ticket accounts, instead of just assigning support agents. But is this high effort strategy worth it?
What Impact Does B2B Customer Service Have on Your Business?
Imagine this – you buy a set of headphones online, but the pair you receive is damaged. The solution is simple enough – you can get in touch with a support agent and request a replacement. The support agent doesn’t require too much context, and the request can be resolved without a lot of effort.
On the other hand, what if you have purchased a software tool for your company that users are not happy with? Not only is this a problem for multiple users who may not be able to go about their work, but you also need to show a return on your investment. Here, customer service plays a critical role in whether you will continue using and repurchasing the product or churning in favor of another option.
Let’s look at two direct consequences of how customer service can impact a company’s balance sheet:
How it impacts revenue and growth
When creating a strategy for your B2B customer service, remember that though B2B customers require higher effort, they also offer higher returns. Creating a more hands-on approach with these customers is critical to improving the lifetime value of each account.
Depending on the size of the customer, one sale can have a significant effect on your revenue and margins. Similarly, providing delightful and dependable customer service will ensure that the customer not only renews his contract with you but will be more open to buying your other offerings as well.
How it impacts your brand
The fastest way to gain a good reputation in the market is to let customers do the talking for you. But you have to earn this reputation. This means ensuring your best customers are always treated well.
The reward you gain for providing excellent customer service is that your customers will become brand evangelists – offering testimonials and public reviews that encourage other potential customers to make a purchase decision.
The power of promotion also has a direct correlation to the name and value attached to your brand in the market. It’s a win-win situation since clients love to partner with the hottest or fastest-growing companies in the market.
The Differences Between B2C and B2B Customer Service
B2B customer issues are highly complex
B2B companies are more likely to have problems that are complex and unique to each customer. Solving these problems usually requires a considerable amount of time and effort, and often require multiple teams to get solved.
Even when it’s a new problem, it usually takes a while to fix. For example, problems involving a server issue, or a product functionality issue usually take hours to resolve and require coordination with the product and IT teams.
B2C issues are more singular in nature. It usually does not have too many elements and can be resolved quickly by following a certain number of steps.
Personalization is harder to implement in B2B customer service
B2C customers enjoy a level of personalization that we never thought was possible. For example, if you are using an e-commerce application, based on your previous orders, you are given suggestions on what kind of items may be of interest to you.
This is a level of personalization not yet possible in B2B but there is a growing demand for it amongst customers. B2B customers expect a certain agility from their vendors to solve urgent issues on priority. They may also expect integrations with their existing software suite or dedicated support resources.
B2B Relationships are not transactional and involve several stakeholders
Relationships are the bedrock of B2B customer engagement. While a solid product with a great sales pitch will get you in the door, strong customer relationships will ensure you get a long-term seat in the room.
Unlike B2C where the interactions are usually isolated and mostly transactional, Business to Business works on a relationship-driven model, which makes customer service a central part of any business you conduct with a B2B customer.
Let’s take a payment issue with a food delivery app. It only takes a couple of steps for the agent to process the refund once you have raised the complaint. This marks the end of your conversation with the support agent.
But in a B2B scenario, payment issues will require the efforts of multiple teams since it involves complex legal and financial conditions that have to be evaluated for the issue to be resolved. This puts a lot of emphasis on customer relationships to make situations like the above easier to navigate.
5 Ways to Improve B2B Customer Service Using A Helpdesk
Customer service is all about making an impression. 31% of consumers globally are willing to pay more for a great customer service experience1. A helpdesk can help smoothen out all the rough edges in your customer service while greatly improving the experience you provide. Here are the ways a helpdesk can be resourceful to your customer support team –
#1 Use conversational history to maintain relevant context
B2B issues can be very complex, which makes it important that everyone involved in solving the problem knows the history of the issue. Customers also expect that the agent already knows the context of his issue even if this is their first interaction with them.
Freshdesk allows you to maintain contextual history through the activity log feature. It allows you to pick up any customer ticket, and see all the actions that have taken place since its creation. This includes status changes, who’s worked on it and all conversations that have taken place with the customer.
This snapshot of issue history is a great way to ensure everyone in your support team is on the same page.
#2 Collaborate effectively with other teams to solve issues faster
When dealing with B2B customer issues, you might need to involve other teams depending on the type and complexity of the problem. But collaboration can be difficult and time-consuming when there are many details to communicate with different people in a short amount of time.
In Freshdesk you can share the ownership of tickets with other teams, giving them the same visibility into the issue as your support team.
The Freshconnect integration can also be useful when you need to provide instant context to another agent or someone from another team. Collaboration happens right within the ticket thread by simply adding the required person to the conversation as shown below:
That person will now have all the relevant information to solve the issue and you can update the customer on the status in real-time.
#3 Allow customers the flexibility of choosing their communication channel
67% of consumers globally use 3 or more channels regularly to engage with a brand today.2
Customers should be given the option of choosing how they can reach out to you. Mail, chat, call or social media are different channels you can open up to customers as a way of contacting your support team.
To provide an omnichannel experience you need to maintain a single version of all your customer information. Freshdesk has a unified customer database that does this, ensuring you always know which customer is reaching out from which channel.
Freshdesk’s omnichannel capability can convert any conversation regardless of the channel used into a ticket. The agent can also then respond on the same channel from within Freshdesk itself.
#4 Proactively deal with customer issues
It’s not enough for organizations to just be reactive to issues. Customers can be left frustrated if they are made to wait for an update after the problem has already occurred.
Being proactive means you are anticipating an issue happening and you reach out to customers beforehand to inform them about it while also stating how your support team is working to fix it
For example, if one of your servers is down and you expect a delay in getting it back up, you can inform your customers about the same with a proactive outreach email before they come to you with a complaint.
In Freshdesk, you can set up an email outreach that explains everything customers need to know about this issue, and how quickly they can expect it to be resolved.
#5 Improve the speed and quality of customer service with automation
Given the importance of building customer relationships in B2B, support teams should be able to dedicate a good chunk of their time to it. But quite often, redundant, time-consuming tasks end up wasting the customer support team’s time.
With helpdesk automation, this situation can be avoided. Within Freshdesk, you can create specific rules based on event and time triggers so that repetitive tasks such as ticket assignment, status updates, etc happen automatically.
For example, you might have a dedicated account manager for a particular customer. Using the customer name as a filtering criterion you can create an automation rule that reroutes every issue to that customer’s account manager.
The Finer Details Matter The Most In B2B Customer Service
B2B customer support effectively comes down to the finer margins. Going through every aspect of your B2B customer service with a fine-toothed comb is a necessary first step. This exercise will help you map out the aspects of customer service that you need to focus on.
By maximizing the potential of a helpdesk, it becomes a lot easier to work on these aspects and deliver an amazing B2B service experience. Given the time-consuming nature of B2B customer relationships, making customer service a differentiator will help you stand out from the competition. In the long run, customer service will play a crucial role in helping your business achieve customer advocacy.