Comparing the differences in customer service between business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) means understanding the scope of each approach. Both methods are designed to adapt to a large and diverse customer base, but the behavior of these customers is what really sets them apart.

Especially for B2C, providing help for daily consumers is very different from positioning and customizing support for business-related needs. B2C companies need to invest in features that explain their consumer behavior; especially when they “when”, “how” and “why” buy your products and services. In order to avoid B2C businesses wanting to understand how frustrated (and huge) their customers can become, they need to proactively seek out how to best help them.

5 must-haves for B2C customer support

Table of contents

  1. Case management
  2. Self-service/Knowledge management
  3. Digital engagement channels
  4. Mobile support
  5. Integrations

1. Case management

The foundation of all effective customer service is case management: a system that can differentiate and optimize customer support based on cases.

For B2C, a case management system must be capable of:

  • Can accommodate a variety of tickets: Selling and selling products to everyday consumers means that customers will have different backgrounds, knowledge and familiarity with your products. This will be reflected in their admission ticket, which means that similar questions will be asked in different ways.
  • Including customer information database: easy access to customer information can establish rapport with customers. If returning customers encounter new or unresolved problems when they come back, it can also keep agents informed.
  • Provide consumer-oriented problem solutions: multiple contact points and simplified workflow can generate quick solutions for B2C support. Business-oriented case management is too complicated and time-consuming to effectively help consumers.
  • Workflow supporting various touch points and communication channels: Consumers will contact them through the most convenient channels: e-mail, SMS, social media, etc. Introducing it into an omnichannel solution ensures that every customer can hear it.
  • Assign, route and report cases according to client and complexity: You will need ticket management and internal routing to accommodate the growth of your team, unless you want to find a new system. Plan a system that is dynamic enough to scale according to the growth you want to achieve.

2. Self-service/Knowledge Management

Compared with B2B, consumer-oriented issues are generally more indiscriminate and lack professionalism. They usually lead to first contact resolution, and the level of technology is usually much lower.

But this does not mean that B2C support will be easier. If a worrying problem occurs, the ticket backlog may suddenly become overwhelmed, such as a large e-commerce site suddenly unable to process orders.

In order to reduce the number of tickets arriving at agents, B2C companies should help customers self-service through self-service. Here are some tools that can help reduce the number of tickets:

  • Custom-branded help portal: This is where customers can find the best way to help themselves. The portal provides a series of contact points (your help center, support address, social media channels, etc.). This is true for your brand and customer-facing identity. Companies with many products can benefit from portals with multiple unique brands. Zendesk calls it “multi-brand” and has been used by clients such as Aurora Fashions, Cotton On Group and Big Fish Games.
  • The help guide (often called the knowledge base) is a collection of articles that provide self-service educational information. This includes operating methods, step-by-step procedures, and other clear details about the product or service.
  • Community Forums: Do you want to provide a space to host customer conversations? Community forums are places where consumers can help each other without contacting support staff. In addition, they can highlight what is working, what is not working, and the difficulties that your product may encounter. This feedback is useful for optimizing self-service.

Problems solved through self-service are usually “how to”, such as password reset, changing account details and managing basic settings.

In addition, the structure of the help information is equally important. Your knowledge management must be centralized and formatted with an information architecture that makes sense to your consumers (that is, everyone). Understanding how customers seek self-service may involve some user experience (UX) research and testing.

3. Digital engagement channels

The customer experience is intertwined through various engagement channels. For customer service, this includes the support you provide via phone, email, and interactions via social media.

B2C support is designed to reach a wider audience, while still being able to personalize settings for unusual queries. The participation channels that B2C companies should focus on are:

  • Live chat: Interaction or discussion by an agent is one of the fastest and most effective ways to solve consumer problems. Chat sessions can be at the core of the problem by providing free interaction (such as collaborative browsing, screen sharing, or helping you complete forms).
  • Email management with automated answers: Email support is still the most common form of customer service, but when it comes to consumer needs, the fastest email support will use autoresponder. This allows B2C companies to provide immediate response and maintain a competitive advantage when investing in other communication channels.
  • Virtual customer assistants: Virtual Customer Assistant (VCA) simulates human conversations to deliver information or execute transactions on behalf of customers. Many of them are supported by AI algorithms such as machine learning and deep learning, making them more and more capable of helping many customers. For example, Dollar Shave Club uses Answer Bot, our own AI-driven VCA, designed for ticket deflection.

4. Mobile support

B2C businesses not only require mobile support it is essential for long-term success. The lack of a mobile experience may cause customers to be unwilling to solve their problems, which is related to 90% of consumers who report a poor customer experience when seeking mobile support.

Extra care must be taken to ensure that the support strategy is translated into a mobile experience. For B2C, this can be achieved by investing in mobile engagement channels such as SMS or Facebook Messenger. If your business provides a mobile application, it may be worthwhile to embed customer support into the application (to prevent customers from switching from mobile devices to PC browsers) like Le Tote did.

B2C mobile support is more widespread in industries where customer expectations are high (such as hospitality, air travel, banking, and telecommunications), but as consumers become more aware of smartphones and tablets, all B2C companies are increasing The more B2C mobile support is needed.

5. Integrations

Your case management system may not be immediately suitable for your organization. Fortunately, integrations can fill the gap.

The right system will provide integration that simplifies the B2C workflow and enhances customer engagement. For B2C organizations, this is usually related to better self-service and mobile support. Both Rovio and Swiftkey are done by using Zendesk’s Mobile SDK.

Integrations are usually tailored to meet the needs of specific industries, such as the Shopify app, which displays customer and order details in the e-commerce company’s ticket. However, there are many integrations that have nothing to do with the industry to help you time-tracking, analytical insights, and even employee training.

The most powerful solutions include APIs for various third-party integrations, or, if the company feels bold enough, it can use internally created integrations to address the company’s specific B2C needs. The game studio Riot Games is a good example: they created their own AI-based virtual customer assistant that can quickly answer customer queries.

Source: Zendesk