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Large Companies Find B2B Customer Support Success with Chat

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Large Companies Find B2B Customer Support Success with Chat

June 02, 2016

  By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

While every company should be striving to get customer support right, B2B companies have more at stake with each customer interaction. Each person who reaches out may hold the key to millions of dollars of business in his or her hands, so “we just had a bad day” excuses simply can’t happen.

B2B customer support faces some unique challenges. For starters, the support desk or contact center may be dealing with different people or different departments for the same customer account. The dangers from competition are high: if you have a good customer, chances are that another company would love to poach on that territory. Finally, you may build a relationship with one person at the company, only to see that person leave. That leaves you with the responsibility to build the relationship all over again.

In a recent article for B2B E-Commerce, Paul Demery writes of the experiences of soft drink giant Coca-Cola, which has had to get creative about the strategies and channels they use to service their largest distributors.

“Coca-Cola Refreshments maintains a large business-to-business distribution network designed to keep customers stocked with its refreshment products,” wrote Demery. “And it lets its business-to-business customers research products and place orders on a dedicated B2B e-commerce site,”

That unique type of business connection of course produces a lot of questions from customers. To ensure they remain at buyer’s sides (in a digital way) at all times, Coca-Cola has built an effective live chat system that gives customers and customer service agents an alternative way to communicate outside of telephone calls, email and in-person dialogue, Marta Dalton, director of e-commerce for Coca-Cola Refreshments, a bottling and distribution unit of The Coca-Cola Co., told Demery.

“Coca-Cola has realized several gains in how live chat gives customers the information they need as it also improves the efficiency of its customer service department,” he wrote.

Chat is becoming one of the most popular channel when it comes to customer support for both consumer and business-to-business. It’s instant…customers can expect resolution before they log off. At the same time, chat can be convenient at times when phone calls are not: on a crowded train, at a sporting event, in an office cubicle and more. From a company’s perspective, chat is a great time- and money-saving tool: agents can engage in more than one chat at a time, unlike a telephone call. This boosts productivity and brings down costs.

For all these reasons, customers have taken to chat for support issues. A recent study by Forrester Research (News - Alert) Inc. and eMarketer found that 90 percent of customers consider live chat to be helpful, and 63 percent are more likely to return to a Web site that offers live chat.

What’s critical, however, is that the chat be dovetailed with other forms of customer support media so it doesn’t operate in a vacuum from the other facets of the customer relationship. For business-to-business companies, this means choosing a customer support software channel that builds chat right into the primary support foundation to take advantage of the knowledge bases and synergies that can come from a true omnichannel approach. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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