Business to Consumer (B2C) support is different than Business to Business (B2B). For example, B2C support usually comes into play after a new customer comes on board. It is typically related to an individual, and is often problem-focused. Think of any purchase you make for your self, your home, etc. You contact support when something breaks or isn’t working as expected. You fix the issue and move on. The focus of B2C marketing is to communicate your brand’s value to consumers and convince them to make a purchase.

On the flip side, B2B support is much more of a marketing strategy, and a key component of building a long-term relationship while providing positive customer experiences. The marketing focus in B2B is much broader – to be successful you must understand the entire customer relationship, from spreading your message to onboarding new customers and further – into the ongoing relationship customers have with customer support. This cannot be overlooked, as word-of-mouth is still the best form of advertising and to ensure positive growth you must promote customer satisfaction and retention.

The Role of Customer Support
To understand how customer service is a great B2B marketing strategy you must understand the various interactions a customer has with your business. We refer to this as the 3 Legged Stool of Customer Experience, which includes Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service.

  • Marketing: The goal of marketing is to identify potential customers and move them through the sales funnel by qualifying or disqualifying and providing valuable information to help the prospect understand the benefits of your product or service.
  • Sales: The goal of sales is to take these qualified leads and convert them into a paying customer. They focus on the customer’s unique needs and provide a solution to address those needs. Once they “close” a new customer, they are on to the next challenge.
  • Customer Service: Once a customer is brought on board their final journey with your company begins. This is where the relationship is nurtured and ??. The goal of customer service is to make, and keep, customers happy – so that those customers will not only stay customers, but grow and refer you to others. It is the longest, and arguably most essential, leg of the CX stool. In fact in many cases a customer’s interaction with support begins BEFORE they become a paying customer, as they test your product to determine a fit.

If you think about it, the customer service team acts as marketers and even sales every time they interact with a customer. They are the ones who answer questions, provide information on new features, and even recommend upgrades or cross-sells when appropriate. They are also the ones who will most likely determine (through their actions) whether a customer will remain with you long-term, or go in search of a new provider.

Understanding the Customer as a Whole
Focusing on customer support as a marketing strategy is important, because it enables organizations to better understand their customers – ranging from pain points to product suggestions and even best practices. There is valuable information gathered during customer service interactions which can be used by sales, marketing, and even product development teams.

Tools that provide customer intel, like B2B customer support software, and allow sharing of information among teams not only provide a central database to collect customer information and transaction history they provide insight into patterns and even spot potential red flags. The key is to have a central database that is accessible to various teams throughout an organization including marketing, sales, and customer support. This allows them to work together to improve the customer experience. This also help businesses truly understand their customers, so they can enhance future marketing efforts and foster long-term relationships.

Collaboration is relevant at all stages
The key to executing a successful marketing strategy based on customer support is collaboration. This includes collaboration within teams, as well as among different areas of the organization.

To be effective, B2B organizations must have participation from marketing, sales, and customer service from the very beginning and continue this throughout the client relationship. Without full participation customer satisfaction and retention will be hard to achieve. The ideal situation has sales and marketing sharing the unique needs of a particular customer, such as pain points and challenges discussed during sales calls, with the support team. Likewise, customer support should be sharing feedback, questions, and industry issues with the rest of the organization so that both sales and marketing, and product development are kept up to date.

Using a collaborative customer support software helps your entire organization maintain focus on the customer experience. With collaborative access to a client’s history, interactions with customer service, goals, and organizational data, the company can align goals and efforts to assure long-term success.

Acting on Insights
Once collaboration and customer focus are instilled within a company, the next step is deciding how to act on the insights gathered from these various interactions and the information collected.

Using these insights and sharing data among teams allows companies to move to a proactive approach to customer success. This, in turn, can help reduce customer churn, which results in higher profitability since retention is cheaper than acquisition. From allocating valuable marketing resources more effectively to improving customer satisfaction, customer service can help you focus on the right customers and create long-term relationships.

There is also a side benefit – when teams are aligned, organizations can ensure they are providing a consistent and relevant message to customers and prospects.

Of course, none of this is possible without the right systems in place. B2B customer support software that enables collaboration and provides insight into the entire customer relationship is critical for businesses that aim to reap the benefits of integrating customer service into their marketing strategy.