Robert C. Johnson, CEO
The basic tenet of B2B customer support and B2C customer support is the same for all companies: Answer the customer’s issues and resolve their problems as quickly and completely as possible. However, there are several major differences between supporting a business customer and a consumer customer.
More Complex Issues
As a general rule of thumb, issues in the B2B space tend to be more complex and have more back and forth communication than issues in the B2C space. Our research shows that the first contact resolution (FCR) rate for B2B customer tends to be lower than for B2C which is due to the more complex issues generated in a B2B environment. As a result of this, the FCR metric is not as critical in the B2B space since customers are often quite technically savvy and know they are contacting their vendor about complex issues that may not be trivial to solve.
Fewer, but Larger, Customers
In many B2B scenarios, the dollar value of the sale is much higher than a corresponding B2C case. Many B2B companies are selling large and complex products to their customers, so each interaction with a customer has more revenue implications.
In a B2C scenario if one customer gets upset and returns your product, the company may be out a few hundred dollars. In a B2B environment, the deal sizes are often in the tens of thousands of dollars and are often into the multi millions. Clearly, if a customer support incident goes wrong in a B2B environment, it could have very serious revenue implications.
Know your Customers
In a B2C environment, it is very rare to know your customers – Generally, each interaction is with a new customer and, while you may have some data about them, it’s rare that there is a relationship with them. Often, in a B2C case, products are sold through retail channels so the very first contact the company ever has with the customer may be through the call center.
The B2B environment is generally the other way around – There has been a sales process that the company was involved it and there is already a great deal known about the customer. When that customer calls about a support issue, as much information as possible should be available to the support agent so they don’t have to ask the customer for basic information that the company already knows.
Often in B2B environments companies will end up with good relationships, and sometimes even personal friendships, with their customers. This doesn’t happen often in the B2C space and is one of the great things about selling to businesses.
Multiple Potential Contact Points
A B2C contact is, almost my definition, with a single person. One person purchased your product, and they are calling about an issue with it.
While this can also happen in a B2B sale, often times in a B2B environment multiple people are using the product within the customer company. This means that multiple people could all be calling about different issues, but be part of the same customer.
The implications to B2B support is that the agent should have access to the other tickets created by the company so they can both be informed and potentially see interactions with issues.
The B2B world is different from the B2C world, and this should impact your technology purchase process. When looking at help desk software for your operations, make sure the tool you are looking at is well suited for the B2B space and has the right feature sets you need.
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