The Difference Between B2B and B2C Customer Service

The Difference Between B2B and B2C Customer ServiceWhether your business is focused on B2B, B2C, or a combination of the two, it’s important to understand some of the key differences between them.

While both groups have the same basic goal — to purchase a product — they typically have very different needs and motivations. These differences should be used to inform your customer service approach toward each segment.

Using your CRM system to manage customer service for both groups in the same manner is problematic. They have different budgets, time frames, approval processes, and so on. Their customer service needs and expectations will vary widely, making a one-size-fits-all approach unwise.

To better understand how your customer service approach should be tailored for each group, let’s look at some of the key differences between the two:

CRM and B2C Customer Service

Individual customers are, unsurprisingly, individuals. They are typically looking for a product or service to fill a specific, immediate need in their life. Often they are the sole decision maker and have a shorter timeline, smaller budget, and fewer customer service needs than business clients. To accommodate their needs, you need to:

  • Qualify Leads – With B2C, there are more leads to manage. It’s important for you to quickly and accurately rank those leads and direct your efforts towards the most qualified.
  • Respond Quickly – B2C leads usually have a product in mind that they want to buy within days or weeks. Your first contact with a qualified lead needs to occur within minutes or hours.
  • Address Motivation – A B2C purchase may be based entirely on logic, entirely on impulse, or anywhere in between. Your customer service needs to identify and address a lead’s motivators for buying.
  • Establish Metrics – When dealing with a high volume of B2C leads, you can only measure success accurately if everyone is following the same process and collecting the same data.

CRM and B2B Customer Service

Business customers need solutions for their entire division or company. Their buying cycle is longer, their budgets are higher, and they have high expectations for individualized customer service. Rarely is there a single decision maker, and you’ll probably have to find a way to balance the needs and wants of several parties. To do this, you’ll need to:

  • Identify Needs – You’ll have to identify and address the short- and long-term customer service needs of each division and all relevant personnel.
  • Manage Contacts – You’ll often deal with multiple decision makers, each of whom may be responsible for a different aspect of the purchase decision. It’s up to you to keep their identities, responsibilities, and concerns straight.
  • Develop Relationships – A B2B customer spending thousands (or millions) on a product will expect a much more personalized customer service experience.
  • Extend Focus – Your customer service should focus on helping the B2B client pursue their long-term goals, not just on the short-term goal of selling them a particular product.

Similar But Different

B2B and B2C do share some overlap. There are common best practices that will help you improve your success in both areas. Enterprise CRM vendors offer a lot of tools to help you capitalize on those common areas, allowing you to effectively double the impact of your efforts.

Once you get beyond those common areas, CRM vendors also offer an array of features for better targeting specific segments. Understanding, and using, those tools will help you avoid the “one size fits all” approach that dooms so many customer service efforts. Knowing which segment you’re targeting, and what their expectations are, can help you better focus your efforts.

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