As businesses, we all strive to keep our customers happy. One of the key ways of doing this, outside of material factors such as price and location, is to create a successful customer support offering. We’ve all been there before – waiting on hold for twenty minutes only to speak with a clueless agent – and nothing is more frustrating than working with a business that continually fails to meet customer demands. But, instead of always focusing on the negative experiences, there are many businesses out there who understand the value of support and take it seriously. These businesses have already taken the time to create solid plans and processes for assisting customers.
So, for the businesses who work hard at support, how can they keep up the best practices they’ve built over the years as technology is emerging and being demanded by customers? Let’s look at some key ways to use technology to sustain best B2B support practices and even consider how to make some incremental improvements…
● Utilise technology to understand evolving customer needs – Over the years, you’ve likely built positive relationships with your customers. After all, business is about relationships and making sure the customer is happy. But, like many aspects of life, things change over time. Maybe a close contact at a business gets promoted and is no longer involved with support issues. Or a customer could experience huge growth and now five people oversee support instead of just two. This is where technology, in particular customer support software, truly shines because it manages these business relationships at both the contact level and the company level. Using software, it’s much easier to take a step back and understand how a single issue impacts the entire business. Making sure an individual contact is happy remains important, but keeping a company as a whole satisfied with your business is the end goal, and this is easier to do with business-to-business support software.
● Technology sparks better and more efficient internal communication – Another way technology also makes it easier to keep companies happy by simplifying and improving internal communication. A direct line between a customer and a single agent was once fine for customer support, but in many industries customer issues have become more complex and require assistance from multiple agents or even departments. Technology such as collaborative customer support software makes managing this complexity easier by creating an environment where agents can work together better than in the past. For example, let’s say the wrong server is shipped to a customer. Instead of playing tag via email or phone, all internal parties (shipping, ordering, support, etc.) can work together within the software so they can figure out what went wrong in a single activity stream. Here employees can be added as needed and get caught up on the conversation in minutes so they can help easier. This seamless and organised collaboration means the customer is getting the right answer faster.
● Let technology store information for both customers and agents to use – The reason why collaboration works so well with support software technology is because it’s also a repository of customer information. It’s simpler than ever before to send and receive information from other technology systems within customer support software – from payments to inventory and everything in between – so when there’s a mix-up with a server delivery you can quickly pinpoint the error. Once a customer knows you have this level of powerful information at your fingertips, they also view you as a resource. While not a traditional support inquiry, they may reach out to ask how many times a specific server was ordered in the past year. Sure, the customer could figure this out on their own, but they’d rather be on the phone for two minutes with you than dig through all their files. This is a great way to capitalise on demands born from customer support interactions and this type of communication relates to a key B2B customer support principle; the more a customer relies on you, the more valuable your business is to them.
● Craft a support plan for the future that is centered around technology – Creating an info-centric support location for employees to work together is a great use of technology in B2B support. But what are some other more forward-looking ways to use technology? In general, automation is standing at the forefront of making all businesses look smarter and more connected to their customers. They are now using support software for an array of needs, ranging from quantifying customer happiness (by monitoring metrics such as ticket volume, response times, and more) to triggering automatic alerts when certain events occur. For example, if an agent has a conversation with a customer and fixes an issue for them, configurations can be made so the customer will know immediately via support software when the issue is fixed. The benefit is twofold as the customer knows the exact moment when the issue is resolved and the agent doesn’t have to take the time to create a follow-up response.
In short, there are several ways to use technology to sustain best B2B support practices. Customer support software is an important technology to implement as it easily shifts the focus to both a contact and company level. Software not only adds automation elements to the customer experience but it also facilitates improved collaboration among employees. These efforts lead to faster ticket close times and happier customers. The use of this technology, as well as its ability to store an array of customer information, makes it an ideal centralised system for meeting the needs of your customers.
Robert C. Johnson, co-founder and CEO, TeamSupport.com
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