What B2B customer support can learn from B2C
It's International Customer Service Week which is a great opportunity to explore these lessons that B2B customer service teams can take from leading digital B2C brands.
The definition of true customer success may vary from business to business, but it’s safe to say that when it comes to providing an optimised customer experience, there are a lot of well known B2C brands that are getting it right. And it’s not just a matter of offering more selection, better prices or ‘same-day’ delivery to the masses. B2C businesses are looking at customer experience on a person-by-person basis and focusing on making themselves as easy as possible to do business with, and they are doing it in really intuitive ways.
Understanding Your End User
Many well-known consumer brands are transforming customer service because of their focus on the individual. What these brands are really good at, and what some B2B brands could be better at, is showing that they truly understand their end users’ needs.
Many brands are deploying technology to predict what a customer may be interested in, and then personalising content accordingly and to make it easy for us to navigate. Yet in the B2B world, we often forget about the individuals behind the organisation.
B2B companies sometimes spend their time looking at the overall customer relationship. However, if you neglect a focus on the individual, there’s a real danger that you may forget about who is ultimately benefiting from the product or service you are providing.
So, what’s the solution? One way is to get support teams out on the road with your professional services consultants, so that they get to understand how the customers use the product – how they use it to solve their business problems. The added bonus end result of this is that when support consultants are on the phone or exchanging emails with customers, they have an awareness of what’s going to happen within an organisation with their suggested change.
Adopt a B2C User Experience Mindset
Investing in user experience is critical for companies to survive. More organisations are flattening their structures and giving a voice to people who would not have previously had any say in future purchases.
Companies need to make themselves easy to do business with – internal processes and policies should not get in the way of getting a customer set up and working with your product or service. In the B2C world, customers are used to downloading an app or putting in our payment details quickly to access new features or functionality, and we need to do the same in the B2B world.
We believe that if a customer wants access to new functionality within a piece of software or needs a new licence key, it should be really easy for them to get this. There shouldn’t be endless hoops to jump through. This becomes even more critical as traditional on-premise software companies move their offerings to the cloud.
Any Time, Anywhere
Availability at a time that suits is also key. In the ‘always on’ world, we are used to getting an answer to our problem or query at a time and place that suits us. We want to be able to access information in the evenings and the weekends at a time that works around our work, lifestyle and friends.
Most B2B customer service teams operate a traditional 9 to 5 Monday to Friday but moving forward, B2B companies should think about how they can continue to support their customers even if they don’t have someone at the end of the phone.
Investing in community forums, self help, quick videos and virtual assistants are great ways to help customers even when the phone lines are not available. A robust, up to date and easy to use knowledge base is also crucial to help customers resolve those problems and queries that are outside the normal expectations of how your product works.
Lastly, it’s essential to understand scope and impact. What may seem like a small change to your customer service team could be a giant leap for any given customer, and might just end up being the difference between them choosing your brand over another.
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Head of Customer Success at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK, Elaine has dedicated her career to improving customer service and experience in the enterprise. Prior to joining Wolters Kluwer, Elaine was Director of Professional Services at Experian Data Quality UK.