The Difference Between B2B Customer Support and B2C
B2B is simply shorthand for “Business to Business”, and it generally refers to who you sell your product to. If your company sells a product or service to other businesses, you’re a B2B company.
The inverse of B2B is “B2C” – This means Business to Consumer. Your company is a B2C company if you sell to individual people (consumers) as opposed to businesses.
Most of the team here at TeamSupport comes from a B2B background, and our customer support software was written for the B2B marketplace. While we do have a number of customers who are in the B2C space, and we have some great features for this group, our features tend to be more focused on the needs of the B2B space.
How is B2B Customer Support Different from B2C?
The basic tenet of customer support is the same for B2B and B2C – Answer the customer’s issues and resolve their problems as quickly and completely as possible. However, there are several major differences between supporting a business customer and a consumer customer.
More Complex Issues
As a general rule of thumb, issues in the B2B space tend to be more complex and have more back and forth communication than issues in the B2C space. Our research shows that first contact resolution (FCR) for B2B customers tends to be lower than for B2C which is due to the more complex issues generated in a B2B environment. As a result of this, the FCR metric is not as critical in the B2B space since customers are often quite technically savvy and know they are contacting their vendor about complex issues that may not be easy to solve.
Fewer, but Larger, Customers
In many B2B scenarios, the dollar value of the sale is much higher than a corresponding B2C case. Many B2B companies are selling large and complex products to their customers, so each interaction with a customer has more revenue implications.
In a B2C scenario if one customer gets upset and returns your product, the company may be out a few hundred dollars. In a B2B environment, the deal sizes are often in the 10s of thousands of dollars and even into the multi millions. Clearly, if a customer support incident goes wrong in a B2B environment, it could have a very serious impact on revenue.
Know your Customers
In a B2C environment, it is very rare to know your customers – Generally, each interaction is with a new customer and while you may have some data about them, it’s rare that there is a personal relationship with them. Often, in a B2C case, products are sold through retail channels so the very first contact the company ever has with the customer may be through a call center.
b2b-relationships.jpgThe B2B environment is commonly the other way around – There has been a sales process that the company was involved in and there is already a great deal known about the customer. When that customer calls about a support issue, as much information as possible should be available to the support agent so they don’t have to ask the customer for basic information that the company already has.
Often in B2B environments companies will end up with good relationships, and sometimes even personal friendships, with their customers. This doesn’t happen often in the B2C space and is one of the great things about selling to businesses.
Multiple Potential Contact Points
A B2C contact is, almost by definition, with a single person. One person purchased your product, and they are calling about an issue with it.
While this can also happen in a B2B sale, more often in a B2B environment there are multiple people are using the product within the customer company. This means that many different people could all be calling about different issues, yet still be part of the same customer. In fact, with a B2B customer many different people could be calling about the same issue.
The implication to B2B support is that this can lead to duplicate efforts by support agents as well as a lack of understanding of the customer as a whole. Support agents should have access to all the tickets created by anyone at a customer company so they can both be informed and understand recurring and/or concurrent issues.
The B2B world is different from the B2C world, and this should impact your technology purchase process. When looking at help desk software for your operations, make sure the tool you are looking at is well suited for the B2B space and has the right feature sets you need. A perfect example is a customer database – most support software built for B2C does not offer this feature, because there is no need for it. So it is literally impossible to see all of the data, issues, and interactions associated with a customer company. You can only see issues one ticket and one individual at a time. This greatly reduces visibility of the customer at the company level and means missing important trends and indicators about your customers.