In business, nothing is more important than your customers. As such, sales are the lifeblood of every company, and it will be your most loyal, repeat customers who drive a significant portion of your bottom line. And this doesn’t even speak to the ever-important value of word of mouth and recommendations to bring in new referrals and leads to convert into business.
For all these reasons, customer service must be paramount, especially in B2B settings. After all, you must keep your customers happy, and beyond the sales metrics, it’s just the right thing to do as a business that strives to operate responsibly.
But the times, they are a changin’. So, you need to not merely rely on the way things have always been done. It’s time for all organizations to reevaluate their customer service practices and modernize to keep up with today’s expectations. The following three steps will help you in that journey.
1. Prioritize Your Top Relationships
This should be obvious, but your top customers and clients need special attention. If you represent a small shop with just a few major relationships, keeping track of all this may be relatively easy. But larger firms that have dozens — or hundreds — of key vendors, suppliers and other partners need to have ways to monitor everything.
Unfortunately, many companies still maintain various processes for dealing with different stakeholders. On the one hand, they have a customer database, but this is maintained separately from other platforms for partners, suppliers and vendors. While there may have been a time when there was logic to that setup, it lacks efficiency and means there will continue to be a lack of consistency in how contacts are tracked and managed.
By combining these key contacts into a single system with multiple functional capabilities to log relationships in a uniform fashion, everything can be maintained in a much more comprehensive way. Ultimately, this will allow for a better approach to customer service across the enterprise. And perhaps most importantly, in today’s world, it will allow for enhanced analytics and one-to-one breakdowns of all your most valuable B2B interactions and history.
2. Streamline Everything
Almost anything can be a barrier to sales. So you must work tirelessly to remove everything that can present friction to growing the bottom line. In customer service, there are many potential sticking points. Every moment someone spends on-hold or is otherwise unable to resolve a problem is another opportunity for them to find a new provider.
You need to root out these hurdles. Be sure to constantly reevaluate every aspect of your communication channels. This can be as simple as having outdated contact information on a website, a broken URL on a social network post, or failing to proactively contact a key customer if their rep leaves the company. Other times, phone systems have glitches that prevent proper re-routing of calls, voicemail inboxes are too full to accept more messages, or firstname.lastname@example.org email addresses bounce back with error messages.
Such problems might seem small, but they loom large in the mind of a frustrated customer. Bottom line: You have to put yourself in their shoes. They have an issue that, while perhaps not an emergency, is a real problem. Every tiny annoyance in the path to fixing it is another reason to just give up and go somewhere else. There are always other options in the B2B space, so don’t assume your customer loyalty will save you from yourself.
3. Embrace the IVR Innovation Wheel
The advent and ongoing improvement of interactive voice response, or IVR, systems have been a major leap forward for customer communication. And as high-level cloud software solutions have expanded over the years and integrated with clients’ needs, this powerful tool has become an even better option for organizations.
For example, one leading call center in the cloud IVR solution from Aspect offers modern capabilities for customer service — such as caller intent prediction, touch navigation and wait-time callback options — by embracing the IVR Innovation Wheel. Its seven principles serve as a solid benchmarking guide that will help any firm mature its goal of going digital, providing proactive engagement and decreasing hold times.
Modernization Never Stops
Innovation can never stop. If you’re not actively getting better every day, you’re actually backsliding. Because you can rest assured your competitors are doing everything they can to eat your lunch and steal your top customers.
To stay on top, you need to continually keep your best customers top of mind, streamline your customer service practices and innovate in your communication offerings.
There are certainly other areas to consider addressing as well. But by laser-focusing on these three aspects, you’ll be tackling the top demands of the modern enterprise — and helping to ensure your happy customers stay, well, happy.