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How Customer Service Can Help or Hurt Your Online Reputation

Now, more than ever before, customer service is vital to business well-being. Word of mouth, always the most powerful endorsement a brand could get,...

Now, more than ever before, customer service is vital to business well-being. Word of mouth, always the most powerful endorsement a brand could get, has been supercharged by social media, online reviews and friends recommendations have become so prevalent in today's society that those factors can make or break a business.

This article will include statistics that show what a crucial part customer service plays in the success or demise of your business. We will focus on customer service best practices that help ensure that your business thrives on word of mouth and online reviews from satisfied customers.

The Importance of Customer Service for B2B Companies

B2B businesses must focus on customer service just as much as a B2C business, it just manifests in different ways. Unfortunately, in a B2B environment delivering excellent customer service is often overlooked. Just as B2C business must be concerned about happy customers posting online reviews and telling their social networks about their experience, B2B companies have an even tougher job in some ways because they must make an entire business happy. Businesses likely have larger networks and larger average order sizes. It would be a shame to lose a large account due to poor customer service; it’s even more unfortunate when another business gives your company a negative online review or tells their own large network about their poor customer service experience.

Customer Service Statistics

Do you think you know your customers and what they want? You might be surprised by many of these customer service statistics from HelpScout.

  • A typical business only hears from 4% of its unsatisfied customers. For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 others stay silent.
  • 78% of consumers have opted not to continue a transaction because of bad customer service.
  • It costs 6 – 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.
    • Probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%.
    • Probability of selling to a new customer is 5 – 20%.
    • It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative experience.
    • News of bad customer services reaches more than twice as many people as does praise for good service.

B2B Companies Find Success in Replicating B2C Customer Service Practices

B2B companies should look to B2C best practices in customer service and replicate them for their own business. There are many times where B2B businesses use different tactics, or do not even think about customer service, because they are dealing with a company. Remember that each company has people that appreciate customer service and being treated right, and they are also the ones who make the decisions to continue or end a business relationship. Replicating B2C customer service practices can include customer retention efforts, social media marketing, and collecting for feedback from your customers.

  • Customer service is the key in driving B2B customer retention.Making current companies happy is something that all companies should focus on because it costs far less to make a current customer happy, and that customer is much more likely to purchase from you again vs. marketing to acquire a new customer.
    • Case Study: Oracle. Oracle was able to find that engaging directly with the decision makers of the companies that did business with them, their retention rates increased by 20%.
    • B2B companies should use social media marketing too. Many B2B companies overlook social media as a form of marketing and communicating with customers. Just because your customers are other companies does not mean that you shouldn’t interact and engage those businesses on social media. In fact, the potential for increasing reach is multiplied by larger social networks of businesses and the open dialogue social media creates can help smooth out any customer service issues before they cause problems for your business. Monitoring your social channels can help you find leads, engage with customers, and get to know them better to provide better satisfaction.
      • Case Study: Maersk. Maersk is a Danish shipping company that because using social media to raise brand awareness, gain insight into the market, increase employee satisfaction, and get closer to its customers.  On their Facebook page, they shared stories about how their shipping containers navigate through the frozen Baltic Sea in winter. The landing page hosted a form that could be filled out to download a brochure about the company’s anti-freeze services. Anyone who downloaded it was considered a “hot lead” and they acquired 150 unique leads just from that one Facebook campaign. Maersk also uses Twitter to discuss company activity and facts about their staff.

 

Photo Credit: eConsultancy.com

  • Keeping a pulse on customer sentiment and desires. Asking for feedback and communicating with the businesses that are your customers is another area where B2B usually falls short. Getting feedback, reviews, and questions answered from your customers will help you to better understand their needs and provide them with the best experience. Customer reviews and feedback are just as important for B2B companies as it is for B2C companies. Online reviews are a great way to get the pulse of your customers and make adjustments based on their feedback.
    • Case Study: Ecco. Ecco provides backup alarms and lights for trucks. Their main customer is truck manufacturers. They treat customer service very seriously. They get a handle on what customers want by talking to customers and making themselves always accessible. They mailed simple surveys to their customers. The surveys only had six or seven questions asking their customers to rate product reliability, delivery times, and similar service related areas. The last question was “If you ran Ecco, what is the one thing you would do?” The owners followed through on the surveys by implementing what they learned. This included having a live person answer the phone and having flexible manufacturing operations so that they could modify products based on customer requests.

 

Conclusion and Takeaways

How can you improve your B2B relations and customer service? One of the best ways to accomplish this is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you don’t know what it is like, then you must ask them. Think about the things that are important to them and then implement them in your business. Can you save them money? Can you help them? Can you modify what you do to accommodate their needs? These are all important questions to ask during the process of developing your B2B customer service plan.

Bio: Elizabeth Victor is Brand Advisor for iSentia. She enjoys sharing media monitoring, PR analysis and monitoring tips, as well as general business tips and ideas. At the end of the piece. Thanks!