B2B customer support is a very different beast from B2C customer service. For starters, each transaction tends to have far higher monetary value. Secondly, a B2B agent may have to offer support to multiple people within the same organization. This the raises the stakes for miscommunication and conflicting information. Mistakes can make any B2B company seem bumbling and incompetent to customers.
It’s also important to remember that customers are not like Borg from Star Trek: a collective consciousness. B2B may involves businesses, but businesses are made up of people, noted Laura Ballam (News - Alert) in a recent article for Business2Community.
“When evaluating the state of their customer service, businesses tend to focus their attention on the overall situation,” wrote Ballam. “They implement policies that span their entire support teams and take a top-down approach to fixing any issues. Customers, on the other hand, view support as a series of interactions between themselves and the business they’re dealing with. They come to their conclusions on a case-by-case basis, taking each encounter as evidence of a business’ success or failure.”
When businesses craft their customer support or help desk services from their own perspective, chances are good that they’re missing opportunities with customers. They’re certainly not going be able to offer a great customer experience. Customers want to be treated like people, not like trouble tickets or a series of phone calls.
“Adopting the customer’s point of view will help a business improve its support efforts overall,” wrote Ballam. “Focusing on the individual customer reveals valuable insights that can then be applied to others. As each of these experiences switches from negative to positive – or, better yet, remains positive – more customers are satisfied.”
Increasingly, companies are talking about the “customer journey,” as this is part of the process of turning customer support on its ear. Instead of starting in the contact center and planning the route to the customer, start with the customer and plan and evaluate backwards to the contact center. In a B2B scenario, this may be quite an undertaking, particularly for a vendor that has to deal with multiple departments and different people. To succeed, companies need to evaluate their relationship with each customer in a B2B relationship.
“This personal touch is what customers want, after all,” wrote Ballam. “Gallup noted B2B customers have high expectations for individual customer service. They can’t always articulate those expectations, however, so it’s up to the B2B company to anticipate them before they turn into major problems. Businesses can prepare for these needs by evaluating the support tickets of similar customers. For example, if one customer has an issue with a particular software update, B2B suppliers can assume another customer in the same industry will have a similar problem. They can then act proactively instead of reactively, establishing clear communications and steps to solve the dilemma at hand.”
Once they build a strong foundation of good customer experiences for the B2B customer, one poor experience is less likely to endanger the entire business relationship. It can also provide guidance for support personnel providing service to that company in the future.
Edited by Maurice Nagle