Customer support is one of the most critical aspects of a B2B business, and having a support community is the best way to provide this support effectively. There are a number of reasons why B2B businesses need a support community and this article will touch on 5 of the most important reasons.
When B2B businesses chose to implement a support community, it has a noticeable impact on the way that these businesses build and maintain relationships with their customers. That being said, there are still many B2B executives that continue to shun the idea of a support community, dismissing it as something for the spotlight-grabbing B2C world.
This, however, couldn't be further from the truth.
In fact, while there may be some overlap, B2B support communities differ in that they often have a more serious undertone and embody professionalism and brand values. For the most part, these communities serve as a place for professional discussion and peer-to-peer support. They also tend to be smaller, more exclusive and built on a foundation of collaboration and sharing valuable ideas.
The fact that B2B companies rely on close and lasting customer relationships should be reason enough to develop a robust support community. But in case you need more convincing, let's dive into our 5 key reasons why your B2B business needs a support community.
1. Customers Expect It
A support community is actually exactly what your customers want, and they expect it!
With a large majority of your customers turning to Google to get their answers, you better have a support community available for them to find. If you don't, well, let's just say that 67% of customers are willing to switch providers due to poor customer service.
So to make sure you're not one of these businesses left in the dust, you should provide customers with what they want: a support community!
As you can see from the chart above, B2B businesses need support communities because they help to enable some of the top 5 factors of customer experience. Most notably, having a customer support community will provide your customer with assistance wherever and whenever.
This is something that, in todays age, every customer expects; service whenever and wherever they are!
2. Maximize CLV
Most businesses invest a lot into expanding their customer base and reaching out to the right target audiences. While this is obviously important, it shouldn't ever be done at the expense of paying less attention to your existing customers.
That’s why it’s just as important to focus on your customer lifetime value (CLV). When this is done properly, you will be able to keep existing customers for longer, increasing sales to them and lowering the cost of serving them.
Providing your existing customers with an online support community is one of the best ways to do this. A support community provides your existing customers with the opportunity to be a part of something that:
- Helps them get more from your products/services
- Gives them the ability to exchange ideas, solve complex business problems
- Will allow them to receive customer support whenever and wherever
- Connect with other customers using the product to discuss best practices
3. Improve Your Business
Professionals use B2B support communities to find mutually beneficial relationships with other customers, as well as your company. Given that support communities are a place where your product and services are discussed by your customers, it has become an important source for product development and improvements.
Ultimately, support communities don’t just help your members solve problems. They also help you develop better products and services through instant access to valuable feedback.
From feature requests to business process suggestions, your B2B support community serves as your first port of call for research and development. If you want to learn more about the impacts of community on organizations, take a look at our recent research report, Online Communities: The Benefits and Impacts on Organizations, 2019.
4. Save Money
It's no secret that B2B businesses are under constant pressure to provide an impeccable level of customer support. They know (referring back to reason #1) that if they don't provide stellar support, customers will leave.
Further, B2B businesses are often bound by contractual commitments to respond to issues and solve problems within given deadlines. Keeping your side of the bargain, however, is much more difficult when your customer support team is overrun by support tickets and the queue just keeps getting longer.
Online support communities tackle this issue: they directly work to reduce the number of support tickets, which saves you money. This is because support communities harness the value of crowd-based support.
Online support communities improve customer service by providing the option for customers to get support from each other. Customers want this too - the fact of the matter is that they trust other customers more than you, and this is way more convenient than submitting a support ticket.
Whatever the case may be, it's good news for you. Crowd-based support helps you to save money. Take a look at Wave: in 2017 when they decided to get a support community, they saw a 30% decrease in support tickets in the first four months. If that's not telling, I don't know what is!
5. Empower Your Brand
Having a B2B support community is much more than just providing your customers with 24/7 support. As many businesses make the move towards subscription-based payment models, especially in the B2B sector, there’s an increased emphasis on the importance of customer engagement.
This trend is fuelling the shift towards advocate communities in which your best customers become some of the most vocal and influential members of your community.
A B2B support community is the ideal platform for rewarding and empowering your most valuable customers with a voice. These are the people who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with others and inspiring loyalty to your brand - a B2B community is the best environment for that to happen.
This is because:
They will be sharing their thoughts in your environment
You can implement gamification features that enable and reward your most vocal advocates
Potential customers will trust you more if they see good reviews from their peers
Hopefully now, you can see the value that a B2B business can gain from having a support community. If your business values providing the best customer service standards and delivering what your customers actually want, then you should think about it.