Not Making the Grade

Jupiter gives B2B companies bad marks in customer relationships

May 17, 2001  I know one thing; if my report card looked anything like the Jupiter Media Metrix assessment of customer service in the B2B space, I would still be grounded!

According to the report released today by Jupiter, B2B companies need to take a serious look at their customer service capabilities. And we're not talking about the lack of new, $2 million CRM systems  we're talking about the ability to offer and respond to basic customer service functions on a Web site. For instance, according to the research, only 41 percent of B2B companies respond to customers' e-mail inquiries within six hoursand of those that do, only half offer an accurate resolution. And, on top of that, only two percent of B2B companies have Web sites that feature an easy-to-search knowledge base for customers to use on their own.

According to Jupiter analysts, B2B companies must improve their customer support competencies by leveraging online networks that allow for customers and service staffers to share knowledge. "A recent Jupiter survey found that 45 percent of B2B buyers do not go online because they do not trust suppliers. Slow and unresponsive companies further erode the opportunity to build trust in online relationships, missing valuable prospecting opportunities and disenfranchising their existing clients," said David Daniels, Jupiter analyst. "The low level of accuracy in B2B companies' responses will eventually drive customers to other, more costly communication channels and will lower confidence in e-mail as a customer service channel. Collaborative support networks can facilitate customer confidence by providing a repository of knowledge for customers to access."

Key findings and analysis from the latest Jupiter CRM research  which will be discussed in greater detail at Jupiter's Ground Zero 5 conference, May 22-24 in Boston  include the following:

 --  While 96 percent of B2B companies offer e-mail customer support, only 67 percent post a toll-free customer support line on their Web site. Moreover, just four percent of the sites tracked offer text chat with collaboration.

 --  The Jupiter WebTrack data show that B2B companies are not using e-mail effectively as a customer service tool. According to the data, 65 percent of B2B companies responded to e-mail inquiries within 24 hours; 29 percent did not respond to basic customer service inquiries at all.

 -- While 65 percent of B2B companies offer online self-service, the WebTrack data show that all but two percent are nothing more than stagnant Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) pages.

"Previous Jupiter research has found that 70 percent of experienced Web users will leave a site if they can't find the information they need. B2B buyers will follow the same trend," Daniels said. "A highly collaborative customer-to-customer Meta-Service Network can capture the highly skilled knowledge of a company's clients and take the burden off their costly support engineers. Some companies leveraging similar systems have been able to identify a dozen customer enthusiasts that regularly answer customer support questions."