While the responsibilities of a B2B and B2C customer support team are, for the most part, the same — answering customer issues and resolving their problems as quickly and completely as possible — B2B customer support teams generally deal with more complex, challenging issues than those in the B2C space. For this reason, B2B customer support teams must take the time to truly understand the complexity of a customer’s business and their unique issues. Below are three building blocks that can provide a solid foundation for successful B2B customer support teams.
1) Provide proper training
When training B2B customer support agents, most organizations focus on the obvious, providing information-based skills like industry insights, company vision, and product knowledge as well as behavioral skills like problem-solving and time management. While this training is necessary, companies must go beyond the foundational level of training and ensure their agents understand the complexity of a customer’s needs. It’s imperative to know what’s important to their customers and then use their diverse set of skills to solve problems as they arise.
For B2B customer support teams, it’s all about establishing a relationship, rather than conversing in a one-time interaction. This isn’t the B2C industry where a customer will complain about not getting a gift card and then disappear afterward. Customers will expect you to not only understand their problem but also know what has happened in the past, what product they’re using, and if they’ve had a similar issue before. When companies don’t take the time to develop a well-designed training program for support agents, they risk losing customers and negatively impacting revenue and overall business success.
2) Have the right technology in place
Training gives customer support agents the foundational layer of knowledge they need to successfully resolve issues and establish relationships, but without the right technology, you’re making it difficult for them to work with customers.
With a B2B customer support software solution in place, agents have the ability to work together on any ticket, which enables and encourages collaboration within the platform. While all agents should be qualified to answer routine questions, working as a team on a ticket will ensure the answer is exactly what the customer needed.
In addition to collaboration, customer support software that stores all actionable customer data matters in the B2B space. The B2B environment isn’t the same as B2C. Businesses spend money differently than typical consumers do, more people are making decisions without the same goals in mind, and pain points aren’t the same across the board. For these reasons, it’s important for customer service agents to have a software solution that puts all customer information in one easy-to-access spot.
3) Tap into existing customer support data
Customer support is an area of business frequently overlooked for valuable insights. Having the right technology in place can give B2B customer support teams data to manage their team. This information is valuable in improving support and driving revenue. Here are four different ways companies can leverage customer data within a B2B support system: sentiment analysis, service level agreements, overall customer distress and customized reporting.
Sentiment analysis: Using artificial intelligence, sentiment analysis helps B2B customer support teams quickly determine how a customer feels based on the tone of their communication. For example, if an irate customer emails a junior customer support agent, they can immediately see the sentiment score and send it to their supervisor for assistance.
Service level agreements (SLAs): Creating a mutual agreement about response times and level of service establishes a foundation so customers don’t feel ignored if an agent isn’t responding fast enough. Leveraging sophisticated customer support software allows customer support agents to monitor SLAs in real-time.
Overall customer distress: Through a customer distress index (CDI), support teams have an immediate idea of how often a customer is interacting with the team and how quickly their issues are being resolved. Information like sentiment analysis and SLAs can be combined with metrics like the total number of tickets and average ticket close to aggregate a score, informing teams how unhappy or happy a customer is. This information helps B2B customer support teams to strategically craft communication with the customer.
Customized reporting: Utilizing B2B customer support software not only helps support agents better do their job but also provides the right data companies need to make essential decisions. Metrics like actions by user, average time to close and ticket source, in combination with information from other departments, help paint a larger picture of each customer, including their praises, pain points, and areas of growth.
Customer support data is not only essential to business growth, but it also helps customer support teams succeed in daily tasks. When a support agent communicates with a customer, they are engaging in an opportunity to gain perspective about their business while providing a helping hand. All of this is done to establish a strong customer relationship.
With B2B support teams handling more complex issues at higher stakes, companies need to take the appropriate time and care when building their customer support team and technology stack. In doing so, B2B companies can feel confident they are providing better experiences and reducing churn.