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When people talk about customer service, the focus is often on individuals interacting with retailers, restaurants, and other B2C industries. Customer satisfaction is just as important for wholesalers and other B2B businesses, though, and that means having a top-notch strategy for taking care of the companies you work with.
What’s the secret to exceptional B2B customer service? While every company (and customer) is different, taking the tips below to heart is a great place to start.
Why is B2B Customer Service Important?
Puran Deep (PD) is the owner of Wild Wheat Bakery in Kent, Washington. They operate as both a customer-facing restaurant and a B2B wholesaler of baked goods, with roughly half their revenue coming from each side of their business.
Wild Wheat’s strong customer service is one huge part of their success, and they have numerous Best of Kent awards under their belt to prove it. When UpFlip talked to PD about his seven-figure success, he pointed to his customer service as a key pillar of his revenue growth. As PD says:
“At the end of the day the customers are the ones paying your bills, so you’ve always got to remember that…if your customers are happy, everything is good. If you’ve got a bad batch, you’ve got to make it right. You have to have the right mindset, take care of the customers, and know their needs. And that goes a long way, if people know when they have an issue it gets taken care of right away.”
So how do you put PD’s advice into practice? Here are our top 5 tips.
1: Know (and respond to) your customers’ pain points.
Knowing what your customers need is good advice for any kind of customer service, but it’s especially crucial in the B2B realm. Business customers have unique needs and issues. The better you understand those issues, the more successfully you’ll be able to resolve them.
What do we mean when we talk about “pain points”? In short, they’re the specific issues that your customers are experiencing. The needs of B2B clients are often more complex and unique than those of B2C companies. Effectively addressing those concerns starts with a full understanding of their problems.
2: Collaborate with your customers to come up with solutions.
Business and corporate customers are more likely to have a thorough understanding of their unique needs and problems than the average individual. Working with them lets you take advantage of this knowledge. It also helps ensure your solution will work for both you and the customer if you solicit (and listen to) the customer’s feedback along the way.
This starts with effective client communication. Make sure there’s an open 2-way dialogue and look at the methods you use to get feedback from your customers. They’ll appreciate being brought in on the process and you’ll save yourself a lot of wasted time and effort.
3: Optimize your processes to cut down on response times.
Customer service response times for B2B businesses can run long out of necessity. This is unavoidable sometimes, since solving issues can require more research. Even though individual problems have unique details, however, you can establish processes for types of issues that will help you find a solution as quickly as possible.
The faster you get back to your customers with a solution, the happier they’ll be. You’ll also waste less time if you build on past experiences to fix the customer issues on your plate in the present.
This starts with keeping strong records of past customer complaints and analyzing them to identify patterns. You can then use this information to establish a routine, with clear steps to follow for each type of issue that comes up.
4: Create a self-service option for common issues.
There is always a level of reactiveness in any customer service process. Even so, it will benefit you to be proactive in any way you can. Anticipating potential issues and establishing a way for your customers to solve them on their own can go a long way in this regard.
Many companies have their own internal departments with expertise in solving internal concerns. They’re businesspeople, too, so if you make resources available for them to solve their own problems, it’s likely they’ll know what to do with them. This can be as simple as creating an FAQ support page with steps for solving recurring issues. Video tutorials and how-to guides can also be helpful in this regard.
Providing these options for clients to solve the “easy” issues on their own gets them back up and running faster, which they’ll appreciate. It also frees up your customer support staff to focus on the more difficult or unique complaints that come up.
5: Use tools and technology to your advantage.
Automating some aspects of your customer support is another excellent way to free up more of your staff’s time, letting them focus on more important and complex tasks. Using software and other tools also helps you stay organized, so you can keep track of how long complaints have been active and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Customer support management software like LiveAgent give you a ticket system and manager to automate and streamline your customer service process. They’ll also monitor your social media comments and can let you add features like a real-time chat or auto-responses so you can be more responsive to your customers on all platforms.
What’s the Bottom Line?
No business can run without its customers, and that’s as true of B2B companies as it is for retailers and other B2C industries. Effective customer service is crucial for holding on to long-term customers and can do more for your business growth than any advertising or marketing plan.
Problems happen sometimes, and other businesses understand this all to well. With effective customer service, you can turn those potential negatives into net positives, impressing your clients with your responsiveness and ability to meet their needs. Following the five tips above will help you become the kind of company others are happy to do business with.