Digitalization has increased the use of chat functions as part of many companies’ customer service. Consumers who chat are used to getting service quickly and easily almost any time of the day. In addition, the companies might have noticed that chat greatly improves customer service and reaches easily customers where they already are. The benefits of chat are clear especially in B2C but how does chat work in the B2B sector?
Convenience is appreciated
In the consumer market, customers want seamless, high-quality service across multiple online channels which has driven companies to invest highly in digital services. An example of this is chat service. In the corporate market the situation of digitalization is different. For example, e-commerce in B2B is dragging behind consumer markets even though customers are ready to buy. The digital transformation is still in its early stages in B2B. However, B2B customers equally appreciate the convenience and ease of e-commerce.
When considering the digital rigidity of the corporate market, it’s good to remember that the B2B buying process differs in some ways from the consumer markets. Perhaps, the most obvious difference is that in companies, the decision making processes are more complex and more people are involved in them than in the consumer sector. B2B sellers also encounter very different buying personas within and between organizations (CmsWire 2018). While the needs and practices are different from those of the consumer trade, the B2B website is usually browsed by a user who is accustomed to the convenience of e-commerce in the B2C sector.
As a result, one can see a shift in policies from consumer markets to the corporate markets. On both sides, the ease of doing business, fast delivery times, easy accessibility, different payment methods, understanding customer needs and personal touch are appreciated. So far, in consumer markets these needs have been met better. However, a big change is happening in how companies buy from other companies. Digital interfaces play a critical role here. One such interface is a chat service that, when integrated properly, adds value to both the service provider and the customer.
The importance of digital solutions is being emphasized – Chat plays an important role
The benefits of chat are similar in both B2B and B2C segments. First of all, chat supports customer’s information search and buying processes, and increases customer satisfaction. It has been studied that over 88% of B2B decision makers begin their information search online and on social media. Also, 60% of the buying decisions are made before contacting the seller. In chat, the information search and the buying process of companies can be steered at all stages from need recognition to the post purchase phase. And just like in the consumer sector, chat delivers B2B customers, a better and multi channel customer experience. In addition, it’s noteworthy that millennials are very used to chatting to begin with – and today these same millennials are decision makers in many companies.
Also for many, the website is the first contact with a company. With the help of chat customer service, the customer can have an immediate interaction with the representative of the company. In this way, communication becomes interactive and many times more fluent than, for example, using an online formula. Usually, at the same, the conversion rate of the site improves significantly – just like in B2C sector. Furthermore, similar things matter in both B2C and B2B: there must be enough visitors on a website, the site must have a defined conversion goal and the conversion must have a high business value.
It’s also a fact that cold calls are very challenging. Only about 0.5-5% of these calls lead to an appointment. Chat channel is a more customer friendly tool for reaching high-quality leads because customers who visit the website already show interest in the company. Leads that come through chat are usually very ready to buy or to make a decision. Thus, as a sales channel, chat is very good.
It’s good to remember that chat analytics and statistics help service providers in the business sector to develop business and customer understanding. Hence, it is fair to say that there are no barriers for chat in B2B – quite the opposite. Chat matches well with the ongoing shift in buying behaviour in B2B. It allows businesses to reach customers in the digital context that is familiar to them. Moreover, it has been found that B2B companies that succeed in creating digital customer experience in the right way, can gain immediate advantage over their competitors. (CmsWire 2018). Given this, one can say that chat channel fits extremely well into this equation.