Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) models of Customer Service.

Customer Service takes variety of forms based on the nature of the business and the target market.

I would like to take a closer look at B2B and B2C models, and reference it to my resent HostingCon presentation “Building a Customer-Focused Company” where I looked to brands outside of hosting industry – to the hotel and service businesses – to determine how to develop an effective CS strategy.

Historically B2B and B2C categories of customer service followed independent paths in their evolution. However there has been some convergence and cross-pollination of ideas, innovations, and best practices across these categories

Let’s take a look at the basics of both Business Models:

Business-to-business (B2B)

B2B describes commerce transactions between businesses, such as between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer.

Business-to-consumer (B2C)

B2C (sometimes also called Business-to-Customer) describes activities of businesses serving end consumers with products and/or services.

General Buying Cycle
1. Acknowledging the need
2. Awareness
3. Research
4. Consideration (the short list)
5. Evaluation
6. Purchase
7. Applications
8. The Experience
9. Reaction
10. Opportunity for advocacy

Differences between B2B and B2C sales

1. Speed of Sales Process — B2C sale is typically faster
2. Number of Decision Makers — B2B usually has more
3. Simplicity of Buying Process — B2C sale is usually simpler
4. Quantity of Leads — B2C sale starts with more leads
5. Role of Emotion — B2C sales involve emotion more than in B2B.
6. Value of Sale — B2C smaller
7. Uniformity of Offer — B2B tend to be a more customized product offering.

Differences between B2B and B2C marketing

Relationship driven Product driven
Maximize the value of the relationship Maximize the value of the transaction
Multi-step buying process, longer sales cycle Single step buying process, shorter sales cycle
Brand identity created on personal relationship Brand identity created through repetition and imagery
Educational and awareness building activities Merchandising and point of purchase activities
Rational buying decision based on business value Emotional buying decision based on status, desire, or price

Differences between B2B and B2C customers

B2B  buyer B2C buyer
often understands your product/service better than you do looking for the best price
wants or needs to buy products or services to help their company stay profitable, competitive, and successful often looks for trusted brands
has high interest in – and understanding of – your product will research the competition prior to shopping
interested in quality customer service interested in quality customer service

B2B and B2C Customer Service innovations

from B2B to B2C From B2C to B2B
provide value-based service add human touch when automate online interactions
promise service levels and deliver on them Exploit consumer-centric interaction channels and rich media
take a process-centric approach to customer service, allowing seamless and trackable collaboration generate revenue from marketing and sales through POS (point of service) captive marketing
digitize and integrate paper-based communications maximize customer service RAS (reliability, availability, and scalability)

Conclusion: Service innovation and POS revenue generation are becoming key to business performance. To stay true to Stage 5 “Continual Improvement” I talk about so much companies need to stay dynamic and continually innovate in service. The businesses have to think outside the box and look at companies outside their own industry sector and even companies that are based on different business models, and apply fresh innovations relevant to their own business.

“Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time.”
– Bill Gates