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Customer Care for Businesses Requires a Different Approach

image credit: ID 138207799 © Fizkes | Dreamstime.com

Many aspects of customer service are the same no matter what kind of customer you’re serving — residential or business. You want to make sure they have the power they need, when they need it. If anything goes wrong, you want to make sure service is restored as quickly as possible. And you want to provide compatible offerings — like energy saving tips and products — to help them optimize their power use.

However, there are also many differences between residential and business customers and, therefore, different approaches to consider. These factors are well worth studying, given that corporate customer satisfaction can lead to an enhanced reputation, business from other companies, and partnerships for organizing community events and furthering energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives.

Dedicated Customer Care Reps

Business accounts are more unique, so each one requires a dedicated representative who understands the company and its needs. The rep should be available any time someone from the company needs to get in touch with your utility and they should have the resources to work with other departments to address company concerns. This approach reduces the likelihood of duplicated efforts and takes advantage of the rep’s built knowledge of each business customer.

In this way, relationships with business customers are more of a many-to-many relationship (for example, on a billing issue, several utility departments may need to interface with several customer departments) than the one-to-one (customer to customer service rep) relationship typical with residential customers.

While you should encourage residential customers to help themselves as much as possible — through resources like apps, online resources, and chatbots — you should urge business customers to take advantage of their relationship with the rep. The difference is based more on the likely complexity of business customer issues than on placing a greater value on business customers.

Long-term Relationships

While it’s important to ensure residential customers stick around as long as possible, the loss of business from a company has a bigger impact on your revenue. Therefore, acknowledge that relationships with residential customers are more transactional in nature, while those with business customers require a more relational customer journey.  

Many elements of this journey are the same as those for residential customers. Business customers still involve people, and people want frictionless service and an excellent customer experience (CX) with solid CX software to back it up. You still need ways to solicit customer feedback and a proactive communication to inform customers about important developments that affect their operations.

However, you may find that, with residential customers, success means getting their problem solved as quickly as possible and letting them get back to their lives. Conversely, with business customers, more time spent together means more opportunities to learn about their concerns and how you can better meet their needs.

Personalization

As with residential customers, business customers need to be able to choose how they communicate with you. But this might look different for each group. Residential customers want to seamlessly switch between text, social media messages, and voice calls, with each interaction visible to each new agent. Business customers want the same level of flexibility but tend to prefer different options, such as chat, video conferencing, and email.

Recommendations to increase energy efficiency for a household might involve a simple text message, while the same for a business could include a longer process of an audit and several face-to-face meetings with various stakeholders.

Naturally, there are some similarities whether you’re serving a household or a company. Basic services, customer care, and an eye toward maintaining good relations are all critical for both. But the way you achieve these ends varies between the two.

How does your customer service differ between residential and business customers? Please share in the comments.

Karen Marcus's picture

Thank Karen for the Post!

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Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 26, 2019 12:52 pm GMT

Business accounts are more unique, so each one requires a dedicated representative who understands the company and its needs

Smaller accounts don't typically warrant such a rep, but that's where personalized automated energy reports and digital portals can do a lot to empower the smaller customers as well!

Karen Marcus's picture
Karen Marcus on Nov 26, 2019 7:23 pm GMT

Good observation, Matt. Thanks for pointing that out. 

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