By Robert Johnson, TeamSupport
B2B and B2C customer support may look similar on the surface, but each industry has its own unique set of challenges. After all, both exist for the same reason: to respond to and resolve customer issues as effectively and efficiently as possible. But, when different types of customers (business and consumer) request support, teams should be armed with a solution that uniquely meets their needs. When a B2B support team uses a software solution that isn’t built for interactions with a business customer, it is unlikely it will be able to deliver the highest quality of support possible.
Support issues in B2B generally involve multiple stakeholders, instead of just a single customer, and as a result, the metrics used to evaluate traditional customer support interactions don’t always apply. For example, while first contact resolution (FCR) is still an important metric to measure for B2B support teams, it can tend to be lower than in B2C due to issues that are sometimes more complex to resolve. Where a B2C customer’s most complex issue may be solved by shipping a replacement product, a business customer may encounter system outages that require a lengthy rebuilding process. Using FCR as a metric of success across both scenarios can be detrimental, pushing support reps to try and close tickets quickly, even if that may not be the best solution for the customer.
The customer relationship also requires care beyond customer support because it is so complex. To properly strengthen the relationship, additional departments such as product management, success, and development need access to the support team’s customer information and, in return, need their information in the hands of customer support. With a software hub in place to store and share customer information, all departments can see the entire customer relationship and adjust when necessary.
Fewer Customers With Larger Contracts
Most B2B contract values are larger than B2C customer values. Where a consumer sale may range from a few dollars to a few hundred, B2B sales are far more complicated, and price can vary based on the total number of users, implementation services or other specialized factors. When selling to businesses, companies typically have fewer customer accounts that are higher in value, and thus mistakes are more costly.
A contact (one employee at a customer) database that also includes an overarching company (entire customer) database is one way to address this issue. Most support software solutions built for B2C don’t offer a company database, making it impossible to see all of the data, issues, and interactions associated with a single company. You can only see issues one ticket and one individual at a time, reducing the visibility of a customer at the company level. As a result, you’ll miss important trends and indicators of your customers. B2B agents need a solution that allows them to assess the full customer relationship, not just one ticket at a time. A software solution that enables support agents to go beyond single tickets, helping identify and navigate through long-term customer frustrations and pain points, is key.
Support agents in B2B also need to manage multiple contacts within the same organization, providing support to entire teams and companies who use their software. They need to understand both the individual relationship as well as the entire customer relationship when addressing an issue.
In addition, the best platforms can even go beyond human analysis, leveraging AI to identify key signs of customer distress. These solutions enhance the client relationship by enabling the agent to more clearly see the big picture and provide the right type of support at the right time for each customer.
More Interaction Per Client
In a traditional retail environment, products are often bought through a third-party store (think buying a printer from Staples), resulting in little to no interaction between the company and its end user. When a customer support agent in that scenario receives a request, there’s a good chance it’s the first direct point of contact between the customer and the company. It may even be the last, regardless of the customer’s satisfaction with the exchange.
For a B2B customer, working through issues with support isn’t usually a “one-time” thing. Depending on the industry, there can be a constant dialogue between support and a customer throughout the year as different issues arise. Some companies even assign a small group of agents to work specifically with a single customer. This tactic benefits both the customer and the business. For the customer, they get to work with agents that, over time, truly learn and understand their business. By doing so, their problems are usually resolved faster than if they just went into the general agent ticket queue. For a business, pairing agents with a customer lets your employees build a beneficial relationship over time. When renewal time comes up, an excellent support relationship is a proven differentiator that a business can provide (and its competitors can’t).
By equipping B2B support teams with the technology built for their needs, agents are able to resolve complex issues through better internal communication, improve overall customer communication by having more information and build stronger client relationships. As a result, the business will retain customers and their customer support team will become a competitive advantage.
About The Author
Robert C. Johnson is the cofounder and CEO of TeamSupport, a cloud-based, B2B software application built to help customer-facing support teams serve clients better through stronger collaboration, superior teamwork, and faster issue resolution. A seasoned executive and entrepreneur who has founded and invested in numerous software and high-tech companies, Robert's industry experience as a business leader and a customer inspired him to create TeamSupport to give support teams the tools and best practices to enhance customer loyalty and positively impact product sales.