Call Center in Mexico and Philippines
It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, whether it is B2C (Business to Consumer) or B2B (Business to Business), the customer service you provide is one of your most competitive differentiators. That’s old news to most, but it still surprises me how many companies have not spent enough time and effort developing their most competitive marketing weapon.
In the retail or consumer world, the discrepancy in customer service between good and bad companies is obvious. Customers have so many choices – consider the multitude of options when it comes to retail clothing stores, restaurants, hotels, airlines and more. These companies are all front-line companies. With so many competitors vying for the customer’s business, the effort a company makes to deliver better service can really make it stand out. Consider the reputations of Nordstrom, Lexus, Ritz-Carlton. These companies are all known for having a strong customer service reputation, and that reputation fuels their growth and success.
However, it is typically different in the B2B world. Manufacturers, distributors and other organizations that sell to other businesses —not consumers — have a different challenge. There may not be as many competitors as in the B2C arena, which is why customer service becomes even more important. The customers generally have fewer choices, and when they find a vendor they like, they tend to stick with it. And, the customer isn’t a consumer. It’s a company that is represented by someone or a group of people who work for the company. The way business is conducted, especially at the customer service level, is different.
In retail, the interaction between a company employee and a customer is a major touch point. That’s not always the case with B2B organizations. The “Human to Human” (H2H) factor is sometimes lost. Enter TeamSupport, a company that provides customer support software focused on B2B companies. It recognizes that even in big business, there are human beings on both sides of the interaction. Recently, I had a chance to connect with the company and get a few tips on how to create the H2H connection in B2B customer support. As usual, my comments follow the tips.
1. Understand the customer: Customer support agents must have information about the customer — both the company and its employees. Support must be able to see the entire picture, which includes the customer’s profile, history of purchases, problems and more. A good system should be able to bring all of that information together. And while you may get info on the company as a whole, you must remember that you are dealing with a person (or people) inside that company. Having access to this information is essential, as it is the basis for delivering a good customer experience.
2. Provide omnichannel support options: Giving customers options for how they connect with you is prevalent in the B2C world, but not as much in B2B. Still, customers from any type of business want to be able to connect with you in the way that’s most convenient for them. Cater to those preferences. Some may want to use the phone. Others might want to engage in chat, a ticket system, or even a self-service option. Not all options may be used, but all may need to be considered. Furthermore, the system you use to manage your customer support must consolidate all of the customer’s information, regardless of the channel the customer uses. It must appear seamless.
3. Use multimedia support tools to save time and provide clarity in communications: This is one of my favorite ways to deliver support. Using video, audio, screen sharing and other multimedia tools can create a great customer experience. For example, an agent can create a custom video for the customer. That is a powerful way to interact. Something as simple as a how-to video can be just as effective when presented the right way. Using company employees as the “stars” of the video also creates a Human-to-Human connection. There are many ways to use multimedia to enhance and humanize the customer’s experience.
4. Use metrics: This is another favorite topic of mine. Measuring performance and analyzing data can help identify which customers need more help and support. Companies can be proactive in reaching out to help, rather than reacting to incoming support requests. Measuring performance can help you spot where more training is needed. TeamSupport suggests that tracking customer satisfaction can shed light on “at-risk” relationships. For example, if a particular agent gets negative reviews from a customer, while the rest of that customer’s reviews about other agents are positive, it may indicate a personality conflict. Again, a good software system can spot this and give the company the information needed to build a stronger relationship with its customers.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of these four tips from TeamSupport. They may seem simple — almost common sense — but they are powerful. Take advantage of customer service and support, using the interactions to build trust and confidence. Creating a personalized, H2H experience will help solidify the relationships you have with your customers. People don’t do business with a company. They do business with the people inside that company.