If one theme in our coverage of customer service has been crystallized, it’s that for high quality customer service management you need to know who your audience is. Having an overview of your customers is the basis for tailoring your service to their specific demands. One important difference is whether your business operates in the B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer) markets. What approach should you take for B2B and/or B2C and what does it means for your customer service management?
Different requirements towards B2C and B2B customer service
Whether your organization is focused on businesses or individual clients it has a huge impact on what your customer service needs to achieve. To get a better idea of how to tailor your customer service to your clients, I will take a closer look at the distinctions between B2C and B2B customer service.
Amount and value of customers
The most notable discrepancy between B2C and B2B customers usually lies in their number and their value which have an inverse proportional relation to each other: In B2B you generally work with a rather small number of high value accounts. Meanwhile in B2C you are often in contact with a vast quantity of customers who individually do not contribute as much to your profits.
Volume and intensity
The respective ratio of active consulting with customers also differs significantly in both areas. For B2B contacts – among other things due to the aforementioned higher value of individual accounts – it is more important to deliver more active, more intense, more personalized consulting. On the other hand, it is more crucial in B2C customer service to be able to service large amounts of people and to provide them with an extensive self-service offering.
Level of individuality
Another aspect is how individualized – i.e. how personal and intimate – service can be in B2B and B2C respectively which has a noticeable impact on escalation management. If anything goes wrong in B2B customer service, it is crucial to act quickly and decisively, since failing to deliver in this situation can lead to dramatic monetary losses. However, due to this more personal customer service, you generally get to know your contacts a lot better, can create an in-depth profile, and therefore deliver more tailored services and consulting. On the flipside, escalation management in the B2C area is more concerned with promoting and maintaining the public company image and – since there are so many customers – it is rarely possible to create detailed profiles on each of them.
Technology and personnel resources
Last but not least I would like to address the different requirements you need to be able to fulfill when it comes to technology and personnel. Elsewhere we had already discussed the different aspects of omnichannel and multichannel strategies and they are critical for successful B2C customer service. Offering multiple relevant channels is a key pillar for allowing hundreds and thousands of customers to be serviced right where they are. These channels need to go hand in hand with customer service employees who can process large amounts of tickets quickly and efficiently – and, of course, without making any mistakes. By contrast, B2B customer service still happens – more often than not – far off any multi- or omnichannel considerations. Consultants either meet their clients in person or talk to them on the phone or in some other personal manner, and they need to be able to explain, analyze and discuss complex topics in a way that is meaningful and tailored to each respective client and situation.
What this means for your B2C and B2B customer service management
One thing that B2C and B2B customer service management have in common is the fact, that they are both driven by processes. The question is which processes are integral and what resources are required to keep these processes efficient and operative. For both areas, the right Customer Service Management Software can be of help, although not every ITSM is equally fit to support your operations in each sector. For B2C it is important that your software can sort, process, and manage large quantities of tickets effectively and on multiple relevant channels. An ITSM tool for B2B customer service on the other hand must be able to manage fewer but significantly more diverse and complex tickets while giving you a holistic view on all customer data points.
When it comes to B2B customer service, our own Customer Service Management solution software provides you with tailor-made support. The Serviceware Enterprise Service Platform can service and maintain large B2B customer service centers – on-premise or as a SaaS model – even for complex, consulting-heavy products and services. Learn more about our solution and request a free software demo.