The Differences Between B2B and B2C Customer Service

Updated: Dec 25, 2019

differences between b2b (business-to-business) b2c (business-to-consumer)

They can make or break you in seconds. Who? Your clients. Whether you single-handedly manage an organic soap shop or an international corporate company, you know that satisfied customers are a must. The good news: You already have your eyes on the prize. But what is often much less clear is how to get there.

One of the most important factors of ensuring clients love your brand is providing top-notch customer service. However, how you define excellent support depends on the specific case and all its distinctive factors. Like an algebra equation, the need to solve for X remains the same but the variables will change.

These differences may seem minute, but that could not be further from the truth. In this article, we’ll focus on the client's factor. B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer) oriented brands dramatically change the way you strategize and implement your customer support.

No need to dust off your old algebra notes, we are going to explain everything you need to know about the differences between B2B and B2C customer service.

Knowing the habits of your audience

B2C: Help customers help themselves

In a nutshell, B2C support is trending towards a more independent and self-service oriented approach. The best tool to provide your patrons is an intuitive knowledge base to help them autonomously find the right articles and answers they need. Most of us, clients included, head straight to Google for answers. That’s why having a SEO-friendly knowledge base plays an important role in getting your content found on the first page of search results. For repetitive issues, you’ll be able to structure your knowledge base based on clients needs and help them find the answers fast.

B2B: Addressing complex and intricate issues

Any decision made from a business-to-business interaction can cost (or save) a company millions of dollars. This is why having a dedicated and professional support team can ensure that the job gets done right. Yet, often when dealing with B2B clientele, there are multiple people using your product or service from the same customer account. You could be receiving a plethora of tickets about a variety of issues from the same company - like the infamous mythological monster, the Hydra. Utilizing a help desk software is vital in this sense, as all customer interactions are kept in one place, which means your support reps will have all the necessary information at their fingertips, anytime they need it. This will avoid duplicating efforts and ensure that every issue is tackled as efficiently as possible.

Defining your relationship status

B2C: Short, sweet and to the point

Supporting individual customers requires providing lightning speed answers. For your business, that means having a trained support team to ensure each customer receives the solutions they need in a timely manner. If your team delivers the right answer in one reply, this will significantly improve your first contact resolution (FCR) and can be a good indicator of overall customer satisfaction. Let’s be blunt, this relationship is as surface-level as they come. Often, the average B2C customer will see support agents as faceless brand representatives - and that’s okay, as long as the job is done. Of course, the ideal scenario is to aim for more personalisation on both sides of the line - a major customer service trends of 2019. To clarify, this means that on one hand, your customer is treated with the utmost care of their specific characteristics, and on the other hand, your representatives let more of their personality surface during the interaction. This can only improve the quality and durability of the bond the customer will feel with your brand. How to reach personalization? Start by practicing these fundamental empathy tips in customer support.

B2B: In it for the long run

In contrast, business-to-business clients require a deeper, more tailored, and often long-lasting relationship when it comes to receiving assistance. Why? B2B customers hold monetary value - from thousands to millions of dollars. You may only have a small handful of clients, yet the revenue they represent is generally higher than B2C clients. If you lose a client by not providing adequate support, this can result in a substantial loss of both revenue and trust. One way to distinguish yourself and capture your B2B client's heart is to offer a dedicated account manager or support agent who will understand their needs and foster a positive relationship. Reasonably, you’ll know them by their first and last names, just like you would a significant other.