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Meeting the Needs of B2B Customers Different Than Working with B2C Customers

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Meeting the Needs of B2B Customers Different Than Working with B2C Customers

July 30, 2015

  By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

While the onus is on companies today to begin offering multichannel customer support, much of what is written about the practice pertains to business-to-consumer (B2C) interactions. But consumers have different needs than business-to-business (B2B) customers, so it doesn’t always make sense to simply adapt a B2C solution to a B2B environment. In fact, it could be harmful to the quality of support you offer. Many customer service platforms today that are designed for consumers include social media support. But is social media support necessary in a B2B scenario?

Not so much…at least today in 2015. Research conducted by GetRank and highlighted in a recent blog post by TeamSupport found that although social media it is being used more commonly today among small and medium businesses (SMBs), its adoption numbers are still very low. Telephone, email and Web forms are still the most preferred channels for B2B customers. This makes sense: B2B inquiries are often complex and telephone is still one of the best ways to handle complex support interactions.

For more general inquiries B2B customers reach for email or forms on a company Web site.

“Email or Web forms are the preferred channel for general support inquiries, and a close second for technical assistance, showing that business customers are becoming more and more reliant on digital media,” wrote TechSupport’s Laura Ballam. “Email and Web forms are also the winning channel when it comes to making complaints – since email is a more neutral method of outreach, it gives a slight distance to the customer, who may feel slightly uncomfortable complaining directly to a human being.”

For this reason, business-to-business providers should ensure that they are putting emphasis on telephone, email and Web forms, and also that they are handling and answering these channels in a prompt way. But they should also leave room to grow, since chat is becoming more popular in B2B transactions.

“Live chat, another increasingly popular topic in business customer service applications, shows a strong 18 percent preference (3rd) for both technical inquiries and complaints,” according to TeamSupport. “Since live chat is fundamentally the best of both worlds (quick and digital but still a real human being) we expect this to trend upwards significantly over the coming years as business to business customer service evolves.”

“Room to grow” may also mean leaving a bookmark in social media customer support. While it may not be popular in B2B channels – yet – younger workers in the so-called “Millennial generation” are heavily reliant on social media, and as these people take professional jobs, they may bring their channel preferences with them. The advice experts give is to look for a B2B support solution that handles the channels you want now, but also be sure that it provides “room to grow” for channels you may need in the years to come. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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