How to Solve the Biggest B2B Customer Support Challenges in 2021

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Customer support is a vital part of all successful organizations. Almost 90% of people are more than happy to pay extra for a product or service, as long as they receive high quality customer support.

That being said, B2B organizations face very different issues to B2C companies, and with 2021 and the post-pandemic era arriving, the challenges are becoming even more specific.

B2B companies must be prepared to adapt their current practices to ensure that their customers are satisfied now and in the future. In this article, we will be addressing the major B2B customer support challenges, and the best techniques you can use to tackle them.

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Communication

Developing reliable and efficient communication practices with customers is key for any business. Research shows that almost 50% of B2B customers will stop business with a company because they do not have clear and frequent communication. Regular interaction with your clients helps you to develop and improve your professional relationship, which is vital in a B2B environment.

But, providing good customer support through communication can sometimes be more challenging in a B2B setting.

As the name indicates, B2B is a business interacting with another business. This means that, often, your communication needs to reach a whole business, not just one individual. Not only do you have to communicate with multiple people, but in some cases, different departments.

B2B customer support agents must handle multiple cases with differing or even similar problems. One of the most significant mistakes B2B customer support teams make is assuming that the business they are interacting with has an all-in-one IT communication solution that transfers information between departments.

This means that they expect their customers to relay the solution or information they have provided to their colleagues. When this doesn’t happen, it can result in loss of data, misinformation, general confusion, and, eventually, angry callers.

The solution

The three most essential things B2B customer support agents should be aware of are who is calling or communicating with them, what they want, and whether or not they have previously communicated with them.

Communication with the customer improves when communication between customer support agents improves. This means that B2B businesses should be utilizing all the tools available to them, such as team collaboration tools, slack, or any alternative app to Slack.

These tools will ensure that customer support agents know all the relevant information needed to tackle the customer’s issue. Repeating information to various agents should be a thing of the past. Customer support teams in 2021 need to ensure that they have all customer conversation history to hand, because 70% of customers believe they shouldn’t have to bring agents up to speed.

Another thing to note is just because your business communicates one way, it doesn’t necessarily mean your customer does, and nor should they have to. Your customer service representatives need to be proficient in using various platforms to interact. Statistics show that almost 70% of customers use at least three different channels to communicate.

There’s more pressure

Consider this scenario. Let’s say you’re a B2B company that provides sales software to boost conversions for businesses. Unfortunately, your software faces technical issues and goes down. This will have drastic effects on all your clients’ ability to generate revenue.

This means that, unlike in B2C, the stakes in B2B are much higher, and there is far more pressure to deliver excellent customer support in times of struggle. Failure to do so can cost your clients a large amount of money, and your company its reputation in the industry.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about uncertainty for many businesses, which means that in 2021 there will be even more pressure for customer support teams to bring about results.

The solution

The best method to ensure that your customer remains cool in these stressful, high stakes situations is to develop trust. This doesn’t begin when the situation has already occurred. It starts from the moment they become your customer.

The essence of building trust is showing your clients that you genuinely care about their issues. This means not only solving them when they arise, but also predicting problems and addressing them before they manifest.

For example, let’s say you’re an automobile manufacturing company, and due to a design issue, one batch of car parts is faulty. You must communicate this issue and replace the parts ASAP before the client reaches out to you.

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Automation

You also need to remember that these high pressure moments are difficult for your customer support agents. They are often time-consuming and require an agent, or sometimes, the whole teams’ undivided attention. This can result in other customer support tasks being put on the back burner.

Automation is vital in B2B business as it allows these simple, back burner, low priority tasks to be completed without taking up valuable agent time. Using robotic process automation (RPA) for mundane tasks such as email processing and case routing can significantly reduce human error and improve customer support.

But most importantly, automation keeps your employees more engaged. Statistics show that companies that automate tasks improve their employee engagement by a third. 97% of employees stated that they are more productive and generally happier when engaged at work. This is critical during high pressure scenarios.

Educating customers

Your aim as a business should be to add value to other organizations. But, a product or service is only valuable if the individual using it understands its capabilities.

B2B products and services are often far more complicated than B2C products. Usually, the product or service is specifically designed for the customer, so the solution isn’t as simple as researching it online or reading a manual.

The other concern is that due to the products’ complexity and specificity, customer support staff may find it challenging to solve issues that they are presented with. Social distancing and remote working have also raised another issue because some solutions require sending out a specialist or engineer to resolve the complex problem.

With many businesses in 2021 committing to the remote working environment, it is vital that B2B companies find a way to ensure that clients are fully educated about their product or service. If not, customer support staff will become overwhelmed, and issues will begin to pile on.

The solution

It’s all well and good claiming that your company provides the best business apps for Android devices, but your customer needs to understand your software so they can agree. This is why onboarding is a crucial step that, if done correctly, will resolve many future customer support problems.

Good customer onboarding helps your client to integrate your product into their day-to-day activities seamlessly. It also allows them to visualize how your product will enable them to reach their desired goals. It increases their engagement with your company, helping to build a professional relationship and reduce customer churn.

But, onboarding shouldn’t be the only time your customer receives valuable information. As the market changes, your product uses may also change. So, you must supplement this education with additional webinars and Q&A sessions. Research shows that customers who attend live events such as webinars retain up to 40% more information than if it was written down.

Personalization

In the same way that you believe customers should value your products, your customers believe that you should value them. Providing your clients with a personal and user-specific journey is business and ecommerce 101. Research shows that 2021 will be the year of hyper-personalized customer support interactions.

The main issue is that personalization can sometimes be difficult to implement in a B2B setting. 54% of B2B experts state that it is much harder to personalize in B2B compared to B2C, due to the scale of the interaction. Another problem is the lack of budget many B2B companies set aside for personalization. This means they are not able to acquire sufficient tools and staff.

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The solution

Personalization isn’t just a marketing strategy. It is an essential part of customer support. Statistics show that almost 80% of B2B customers expect all interactions to be specific to their needs. This can only be made possible with data.

Data collection and analysis are crucial to providing excellent customer service. Collecting data about your clients, including their preferences, previous requests, feedback, sales data, marketing data, etc., and then unifying this data by ensuring all customer support staff has access to it is critical.

Not only will this allow you to address your customers with incredibly specific information and terminology, but this data can also then be used to group your customer base into specific categories. This is known as segmentation. Segmentation in customer support allows you to better understand your customers and direct specific customers to specific agents.

For example, let’s use the automobile manufacturing example again. If you segment your clients by car type, such as electric cars, any issues these customers have can be directed towards an agent who is accustomed to handling electric car problems. This will improve both the personalization and quality of your customer support.

To sum up

2021 will bring about a new set of customer support challenges for B2B companies, but many old ones will still remain. B2B organizations must realize their unique problems, such as communication, product complexity, personalization, and higher stakes, and invest in the right tools and proper training to ensure that they reduce churn and satisfy their customers.

1 COMMENT

  1. Great article Samuel! I am going to share this in my LinkedIn post with my network. I think that there is sometimes too much focus put on gaining new customers and business and not enough time spent thinking about how to keep current customers happy and maintain those long-term B2B relationships that are so vital to lasting success.

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