Worthy goal: merging B2C and B2B customer lists
I received a really interesting inquiry recently from an SSPA member regarding best practices for identifying when a consumer customer deserves special treatment because they are a VIP on a corporate account. Though this is a potential issue for a growing number of firms, it turns out few companies have procedures in place to address the problem.
In the three years I’ve been with the SSPA the formerly separate worlds of B2B and B2C have merged. Though lots of member companies have both B2B and B2C divisions (Dell, Xerox, Symantec, etc.), we’ve seen consolidation creating new hybrids, such as Cisco/Linksys. I don’t think it is overly controversial to point out that the B2B customer experience is different from the B2C customer experience. B2B support engineers are more technical and highly trained than the average B2C agent…as is the customer. B2B customers are often dedicated system administrators, while consumer customers may have no technical experience at all. And let’s face it, with the huge volumes in consumer call centers, and often complex volume management involving inhouse agents and outsourced agents, the consumer experience can be iffy.
According to the SSPA Benchmark, 85% of B2B customers say they were satisfied with the handling of their case, compared to 44% of B2C customers. 59% of B2B customers say they were very satisfied with the handling of their case, compared to 35% of B2C customers.
So the question is: When the CIO at a big B2B customer account calls in as a consumer about his/her home computer, how do you make sure they receive exceptional service so as not to negatively impact the B2B account standing?
Theoretically, the answer is merging the customer records, so when you open an incident for the consumer record you are automatically flagged of his B2B status, and the B2B account owner is notified. However, I checked with several companies and it appears no one is doing this (which I expected–so much for the “360 degree view of the customer”).
Most companies said they had no way of handling this situation, even if an angry consumer identified themselves as a VIP on a corporate account. If the organizations are wholly separate, being a VIP in one area doesn’t give you any advantage in the other area. Other companies said they train consumer agents that if a customer identifies themselves as a B2B VIP, the call is immediately escalated.
Not a single company indicated that the B2B team has access to the B2C customer records, nor does the B2C team have access to the B2B records. So even if agents are trained to handle things on an exception basis, the disparate CRM systems are not updated to let a B2B account manager know what’s going on.
It is unlikely that 2009 is the year that these companies will start a huge master data management project to consolidate onto a single customer master. But it would sure be interesting for someone to do an ROI analysis on the cost of negatively impacting B2B accounts with poor B2C service. Do I hear any volunteers? If your company has both B2B and B2C accounts, how do you handle it? Any best practices to share? Please add a comment or drop me an email; I will respond to all. And thanks for reading!