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B2B Support Isn't B2C Support: Consider Unique Metrics for Help Desk Success

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B2B Support Isn't B2C Support: Consider Unique Metrics for Help Desk Success

April 26, 2016

  By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

B2B contact centers are a bit of an awkward step-child. They frequently rely on technologies, management strategies and even workers better designed for (and suited for) B2C contact centers. But B2B isn’t B2C, and assuming it is will shortchange customers and even risk valuable accounts to loss to competition.

Key performance indicators (KPIs), or the metrics used to track success in a contact center, are something else that may not transfer well from B2C to B2B, according to a recent blog post by B2B support solutions provider TeamSupport.

“[KPIs] vary according to industry and department, meaning business-to-business KPIs are different than those of a business-to-consumer organization,” wrote the blogger. “Similarly, a sales team has different KPIs than those of customer support in the same company.”

So if you wouldn’t use sales metrics for the help desk, why would you use consumer customer support metrics for business support?

While some metrics will be similar to B2C: customer satisfaction, for starters, and response and resolution time, others will be quite different. Average handle time (AHT), a popular metric in B2C organizations, can’t even begin to tell an accurate B2B story, and keeping that metric low could actively harm customer relationships.

According to TeamSupport, cost-per-ticket is one of the most critical for any business customer support organization…as long as it’s figured with customer satisfaction in mind.

“To understand the efficiency of your support organization, consider the cost per ticket - that is, the total cost of running customer support divided by the number of tickets,” wrote Team Support (News - Alert). “The more efficient your team is, the lower your cost per ticket will be. Each business must determine for itself the appropriate cost per ticket, especially in relation to the quality of support agents provide. Customer satisfaction is also a factor in revenue, so you should never sacrifice customer satisfaction for a lower cost-per-ticket average.”

Lowering cost-per-ticket without sacrificing the quality of customer support relies heavily on another metric: volume of tickets. To keep both metrics in check, it’s important to have an easy-to-use and robust self-service strategy that customers will actively want to use.

“There are many simple questions customers can answer themselves through self-service support alternatives such as knowledge base and FAQ sections,” according to TeamSupport. “These must be easily located and clearly advertised so customers know contacting the support desk is not their only option. In addition, self-service support must provide clear instructions customers can understand.”

The number of tickets per customer and number of tickets per agent can also yield valuable intelligence, and can allow managers to understand which parts of the help desk are running smoothly and which need attention and remedial training. First, however, be sure it’s not the fault of unevenly distributed work: are some agents getting all the tough questions and others the easy ones? If so, it may be time to redesign your routing strategy, as well. Ensure agents have the ability to help one another with the tougher questions by putting a solid collaborative customer support solution in place. And remember that your organization is unique in its needs, so one B2B support strategy won’t fit all. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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