Hints and Tips | | Published December 03, 2015

How to Provide Effective Customer Service for B2B Customers

Providing effective customer support is essential for any kind of business, but customer service for B2B companies is different than B2C, and it's important you treat them appropriately.

Some key differences
B2B customers are generally part of a smaller customer base, and they need more attention because their problems can't be as easily resolved as many B2C customer challenges. This means B2B customers must be treated as partners more so than a typical customer. As noted in the Gallup Business Journal, your customer service team needs to completely understand the businesses they support, including their industry and their own customers. A centralized customer support software solution can make customer service easier by cataloging every bit of customer information gathered over the course of the partnership in one place.

Additionally, B2B customers tend to be a part of your customer base for longer periods of time than B2C customers. The overall lifetime value is quite high in the B2B sphere, which means it's paramount for your business to provide the right kind of support for all of their needs. Many B2B companies get a portion of their business from referrals, so focusing on long-term partnerships with businesses not only helps improve customer retention, but it also has a positive impact on customer acquisition. Still, these aren't the only differences between B2B and B2C customer service.

"In B2B customer service, you work with multiple people spanning several departments."

B2B problems usually involve many different parts of the business
One of the most apparent differences between B2B customer service and B2C is the relationships themselves. B2B customers typically include multiple people. This requires you to maintain focus while working across a number of departments and with several different people. B2B customer support software makes it easier to keep track of all customer data so nothing is lost while assisting multiple departments or teams. The difference is that a B2C solution typically won't include a customer database or be able to consolidate information at a company level. Since these teams are often divided up and operate in silos it can make understanding the company as a whole very difficult, but it is essential in order to understand your customers and solve any problems efficiently.

Bringing in a senior leader to help facilitate service recovery can be smart.

Senior leaders are important for service recovery
While it might not seem worth it to bring in a senior lead for customer issues, doing so can have a positive influence on the situation. When senior level management is a part of the service-recovery strategy, customers become aware of how important they are to the business. Also, when senior leaders are able to back up their account and customer service reps, customers begin to have faith and trust the reps that service them, making customer ties even stronger. Your customer support team can help facilitate this process by providing senior leaders with all the information they need to know to address the customers. They can issue a sincere apology or assurance that any problems will be resolved in a timely manner. While you don't want to have senior leaders be a part of every customer interaction, their presence can help customers stay engaged during service recovery.

By focusing on treating B2B customers as the unique entities they are, you can work to provide even better customer service.

Since B2B customer support issues tend to be more complex, collaboration can help solve those issues faster. Learn more in our white paper: Leverage Your Team's Collective Knowledge for Better Customer Support