Despite the widely accepted tenet that “the customer is always right”, the reality is that the statement completely depends on who the customer is and how you define “right”.
If you are a business selling to a business (B2B), being “right” is significantly less important than getting the problem solved. Obviously, you know your B2B company has to provide great customer support if you want clients to return. But the standard assumptions about customer support in a B2C environment don’t work in a B2B environment.
These 5 truths about B2B customer support will help you beat your competition:
- B2B customer bases are smaller and consolidating.
B2B’s tend to deal with a hundred to a few thousand customers. Each transaction can amount to thousands of dollars in business. Unlike B2C’s, if a B2B company loses a customer it can impact the company’s entire year or worse. Customer service plays an even more important role in keeping these customers happy and loyal to your B2B business. Additionally, many of the customers for B2B’s are consolidating or becoming more concentrated because of mergers. After a merger, customer service better be the reason your company is chosen to continue as the vendor of choice.
- B2B’s long-term customer relationships can be a two edged sword.
You may have served some of your customers for years. That’s great, but are you taking them for granted? Say a long-term customer has a bad experience but lets it slide once or twice and doesn’t say anything. The next time they have a bad experience the customer goes directly to the competition without a real explanation. B2B companies always have to be aware of what’s happening in each of their customer relationships. Complacency is your worst enemy.
- EVERYBODY loves data.
For any company, the more information and actionable data the better. Unlike B2C, B2B customer support has to see the customer as a whole picture. Seeing all the customer’s needs, issues, and concerns helps you maintain a complete connection. Having this data allows B2B support teams to see trends or catch bad habits and fix them before they become significant issues.
- It’s hard to find good B2B customers.
With the impact of social media, a bad customer experience can be lethal. In addition, making the wrong decision about how to do B2B customer support can be career ending. On the other hand, 30-40% of B2B customers will refer your company if their customer experience was an exceptional one. Good word-of-mouth can solidify the decision for B2B companies; these referrals can be worth their weight in gold when it comes to locating new customers. Now more than ever customers are looking to their peers for input on upcoming purchases.
- B2B companies compete on service quality.
With many B2B’s, the product isn’t extremely dynamic. Stable products don’t require a significant amount of tweaks and changes. That is why when two competitors in the B2B space compete they are doing so on the quality of their service. When it is all said and done, the company who offers the best and most consistent customer support experience will win.
In conclusion, beating your B2B competition is all about providing better support and valuing your customers more. Being "right" isn't as important as having referenceable customers who will not only continue to do business with you but will also help you acquire new business.
Want to take the next step in learning about your B2B customers? Download our eBook on Reporting and Metrics in the B2B Industry to understand the key metrics to improve efficiency and increase customer retention.