You know your B2B company has to provide great customer service if you want clients to return. But the standard assumptions about customer service for a B2C company don’t always succeed in the B2B environment. Here are 6 realities of B2B customer service you must understand and act upon to beat your competition.
1. B2B customer bases are usually small.
B2B’s tend to deal with a hundred to a few thousand customers. Each transaction can amount to thousands of dollars in business. Unlike B2C’s, which can stand to lose a few customers here and there without terrible repercussions, if a B2B company loses a customer it can impact the company’s entire year or worse. Customer service plays an even more important role in keeping these small bases happy and loyal to your B2B business.
2. B2B’s customer bases are consolidating.
Most B2B’s derive 80% of their business from 20% of their customers. Many of the customers for B2B’s are consolidating or becoming more concentrated because of mergers. After a merger, customer service may be the reason your company is chosen to continue as the vendor of choice.
3. B2B’s long-term customer relationships can lead to complacency.
You may have served some of your customers for years. These long-term relationships can occasionally lead either the customer or the business to take the other for granted. Let’s say a long-term customer has a bad experience but lets it slide once or twice and doesn’t say anything. The next time a bad experience happens, the customer goes directly to the competition without a real explanation. There is a delicate balance maintained with long-term customers. B2B’s always have to be aware of what’s happening in each of their customer relationships. Provide great service to every customer, every time.
4. B2B’s love data.
The more numbers the better. Generally B2B’s, like B2C’s, want actionable data. Seeing a customer’s needs and issues helps the B2B company maintain a connection just like a B2C company would. Having this data allows B2B’s to see trends or catch bad habits in different departments and fix them before they become permanent.
5. B2B’s compete not just on product innovation but service quality.
With many B2B’s, the product changes very little from year to year because there is product or brand loyalty and innovations need to be only small tweaks. That means many B2B’s compete on the quality of their service. When two companies or brands offer similar products, options, and pricing, customers choose based upon their service experience and word-of-mouth.
6. Word-of-Mouth Drives New Business in B2B.
Between 30-40% of B2B customers offer referrals IF their customer experience was a pleasant one. With the impact that word-of-mouth can have on B2B companies, these referrals can be worth their weight in gold when it comes to locating new customers. Now more than ever customers are looking to their peers for input on upcoming purchases and take their advice very seriously, making referrals a great way to get customers educated and headed in your company’s direction. If their experience with your company is good, they should become not just satisfied customers but repeat customers.
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