Effective customer service goes beyond the product.
Especially for the B2B businesses, where 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better service experience.
It should prompt you to bring customer service to the front and center if it already isn’t.
And the first step to this is acknowledging that B2B customer support is altogether a different ballgame than B2C customer services.
Where both B2B and B2C customers expect the same level of product quality and services, a B2B customer will look for competitive prices, faster issue resolutions, and streamlined solutions.
That means you can’t afford to overlook the importance of effective B2B customer service. Otherwise, the customers will leave along with their wallets.
What is B2B customer service?
How do you think a company like Amazon runs? It lists products to customers, but to make it happen, it needs a website, payment system, delivery infrastructure, and so much more.
No matter how big a business is, it needs other businesses for support and services. It’s called a B2B system.
And a B2B company sells its services to another business instead of customers directly.
B2B customer service aims to provide the necessary guidance to clients before, during, and after the onboarding.
B2B vs. B2C customer service
Engagement: Unlike the B2C model, a B2B customer service needs to engage with multiple business stakeholders. It demands a more involved relationship where you know your customers by name and aim to build a personal connection for better business relationships.
Data significance: A B2B client holds data as the holy grail. To cater to these clients better, you’ll have to orient your team to be more data-centric. And you must be prepared to substantiate your claims with relevant and accurate data.
Priorities: When two companies provide the same technology, a B2B client will go with the one that has a better reputation for servicing its clients. Since B2B clients incline toward a longer relationship, they want to extend their hand to a company that will value their needs and opinions.
Selling cycles: You can’t rely on aggressive marketing and catchy phrases to attract prospects in the long run. A B2B customer measures the company on a long list of parameters, including trust, cost, security, backups, and features. It often leads to longer selling cycles, making patience an essential quality for your customer support and sales team.
Custom solutions: A B2C customer takes what’s served to them without even thinking of asking for a unique feature for themselves. But that’s not the case with B2B customers who might come around looking for a custom solution.
B2B customer service best practices
Now that we know what B2B customer service means, let’s take a look at how you can master it.
A quick on-feet customer support
Serving businesses is always a high-stakes operation. Each issue and delay in response cost your clients revenue and their reputation.
That’s why fast and proactive support is essential for serving every B2B customer.
Here are some ways you can improve your B2B customer support.
- Introduce omnichannel support to streamline customer communication.
- Add resources to provide 24/7 customer support.
- Invest in reliable live chat services for instant response.
- Allow customers to self-serve with proper reference documentation.
Easy to navigate UI
B2B customers are short on time and have hundreds of tasks on their to-do list.
You can’t expect them to spend their whole work day navigating your product.
An effective product isn’t just simple and effective; it’s intuitive too. Let’s see how you can do that without starting from scratch.
- Start with optimizing your website and application. Make it load faster and eliminate repetitive steps or clicks to reach an end goal.
- Provide helpful links along with each feature to understand how it works.
- Predict the users’ next steps and use pop-ups to guide them better.
- Break bigger modules into smaller sections so that the user isn’t overwhelmed.
Glitches are part of every product, even the best ones.
In those moments, a genuine connection with the client can buy you some extra time and leniency to resolve the issue.
But, a B2B customer relationship isn’t forged in a single day. It takes persistence and patience. Here are some hacks to accelerate the process.
- Ensure that you are talking to multiple people in the organization. Otherwise, if the single point to contact moves out, you’ll have to begin afresh.
- Stay in regular touch with the client. Asking if everything is going fine or if they are facing an issue is the simplest way to initiate conversation.
- Keep them updated about the latest product developments. It will maintain their interest in the services.
- Schedule training for every new feature and choose face-to-face meetings over the virtual connection.
- Train your team with best practices for B2B customer communication, especially when they’re frustrated.
B2B customer health score
A B2B company has limited clients which you can monitor and track to ensure smooth functioning.
A customer health score is a metric used to gauge the client’s performance and predict churn and revenue.
- Identify key customer actions that are positive and negative for your business. For example- if a client adds new users to the dashboard, it’s a positive action. Or, if they haven’t logged in for a week, it’s a negative action for your business.
- Automate triggers if a customer’s health dips too low.
- Stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the client’s business so that you can plug-in relevant solutions.
- Schedule quarterly business reviews for the B2B customers to help them optimize their processes.
Resolving issues swiftly is good, but you know what’s better– preventing issues from happening.
Service quality is a crucial deciding factor for B2B customers. One with which they won’t like to compromise.
- Set up a dedicated support team that monitors the B2B customer performance 24/7.
- Take corrective measures as soon as an anomaly is observed.
- Inform the client before they highlight the concern to you.
- Be open and accountable if there has been a shortcoming at your end.
- Implement the right technology for handling calls, emails, chat, and tickets. If 24/7 availability isn’t feasible for your business, try outsourcing the B2B customer care services.
- Introduce automation with the help of artificial intelligence to predict possible errors and help avoid them.
Introduction of SLA to Agreement
SLA (Service Level Agreement) is introduced to the master contract for setting the service expectations right.
It defines the metrics that will judge the services, the escalation matrix, and the penalties to implement if the expected services aren’t delivered to the B2B customer.
- Choose the metrics that are in your control to manage the results.
- Provide honest and transparent criteria for performance evaluation.
- Pay attention to the details in the agreement to avoid any miscommunication.
Key Accounts Manager Allocation
Since the B2B customers of a company are limited, you can distribute them among a dedicated team of managers. These managers will be the single point of contact for your B2B customers and ensure the account’s success.
- Train your team not to act as extended support but provide proactive assistance for the account growth.
- Allocate 30 or so accounts to each key accounts manager for more efficiency and focus.
- Define clear key performance indicators of your team like revenue, churn rate, and C-SAT to measure the efforts.
Customer service in B2B businesses should set sail with one goal– to keep the clients happy.
Unless your processes and team align with a customer-centric goal, it isn’t possible.
- Plan a personalized plan of action based on the B2B customer journey and milestones.
- Take regular product feedback and ensure to pass these on to the relevant stakeholders in your team.
- Add a human touch to your conversations instead of too-formal notifications.
An All-hands Effort
B2B customer support isn’t a one-person or a single team’s job. B2B customer care needs the coordination of the whole organization.
Here’s how you can bring everyone on a single page and fast-track your success.
- Product team: Ask for NPS (Net Promoter Score) from the clients to understand their opinions about the product and work on it to improve your product.
- Sales team: Plan how you wish the account handover to proceed from the sales to your account management team for a smoother transition.
- Marketing team: Create a detailed buyer persona to stir relevant content for each customer stage. They can create content such as whitepapers, blogs, case studies, etc.
Outsource B2B Customer Care
Efficient customer service in B2B means a lot of hard work and capital.
But you can play smart here and provide the same expert services with affordable resources by outsourcing the B2B customer support.
- Start with a small process to test the waters. Like outsourcing call support at odd hours.
- If you find the services as expected, you can scale up the team.
- Outsourcing allows you to add or remove resources in the team at short notice without the hassle of hiring. It will enable you to serve the B2B customers swiftly.
- You can even offload some burden from your in-house customer service team and boost their productivity.
B2B Customer Service Examples
Leverage the Power of Community- Freshworks
Freshworks provide services to businesses to manage their customer communication. Since their product directly impacts the B2B client’s revenue, they have created an innovative approach to boost customer engagement.
They have built an online community where their B2B customers can discuss specific topics, ask queries, and share customer service best practices.
- Provide a platform for your customers to share their opinions and suggestions
- Increases brand outreach and act as an ‘aha’ moment
- B2B customers learn from the community about the best practices
Self-service For B2B Customers- Hiver
Self-services reduce your team’s burden and empower the B2B customers to navigate your product on their own for quicker resolutions.
Hive has built a whole directory of FAQs and guides to help the customers with self-onboarding.
- It saves clients’ time in calling you for help
- Lets them stumble upon other features too
- Reduces repetitiveness for your team while answering client’s queries
No Suspense Over Plans: Hubspot
B2B customers appreciate transparency, and since the cost is a crucial determiner for choosing a service provider, they don’t want to chase you for it.
Hubspot has listed their complete plans on their website so that the new customers can decide if it’s something that would fit their budget or not. Even the existing customers can take a call if they wish to upgrade their plan.
- It saves time for your team as only genuine leads reach out to you.
- All the features are listed so the client knows what they can enjoy in the subscription.
All set to level up your B2B customer service!
B2B customer service isn’t easy. But no good thing has ever been.
All the hard work and patience pay off in the long run with better clients and more revenue.
And since the B2B clients weigh word-of-mouth and referrals over anything, the more promotion you can gather, the better it is.
Suppose you are running a business or managing an overworked team; in that case, it makes perfect sense for you to find some reliable resorts that deliver results without wrecking your budget.
We’d suggest you give customer service outsourcing a try. Irrespective of whether you’re just starting or scaling up, it will at least take the worries of effective customer service off your plate.
I help businesses grow with content and copywriting. I’m a marketing writer with immense love for reading. When not in front of a backlit device, I can be found contemplating stoicism!