How Technology is Transforming Customer Service for B2B Businesses
As many businesses this week celebrate National Customer Service week, it’s a great time to examine how customer service has evolved. Customer expectations are certainly higher than ever thanks to the many advancements in technology. In the B2C world, consumer customer service has accelerated to a new level to meet the needs of a new generation of consumers who've become accustomed to the instant gratification that technology provides. The reliance on these technologies in everyday life, is rapidly transforming the customer service landscape for businesses in the B2B space as well. Companies of all sizes and industries are feeling the pressure to keep up and meet these growing demands. Just as we continue to see on the consumer side, B2B companies are implementing more advanced technology to simplify their approach to customer service.
Here’s a glance at some of the key technology transforming the B2B customer experience.
Technology that Meets New Customer Expectations
Customer’s today expect speed and efficiency when it comes to customer service and resolution. B2B businesses today are adapting to these new expectations by moving towards more technologically advanced support methods. Communicating through methods of communications that customers use and prefer like web chat, video conference, social media, and online community platforms have become necessary in order to meet the demands of customers today. Providing customers with a variety of options when it comes to obtaining support has become essential. While phone communications will always be a staple, newer methods for contact and more self-serving options online are becoming increasingly more important. Whether its placing an order, asking a question or removing a service, implementing the technology and tools that can support a customer’s changing needs is more important than ever. As customers and businesses continue to make a digital transformation, online communities and online support documentation on support pages of websites provide customers with the control to find the answers they need, without the hassle of contacting support, especially beyond regular business hours.
Integrating Systems, Employees and Processes
One of the biggest complaints about contacting customer service is when customers have to repeat themselves to various representatives in the company. We’ve all experienced this frustration first-hand. This is a clear red flag to customers that the business is operating outdated systems and immediately results in a negative customer experience. Here is where the integration between systems and employees is hugely important. Regardless of the role or department, having every employee unified on the same communications platform is a must. Unified communications systems are instrumental in keeping employees in communication with one another, regardless of the size of the business or where employees are located. Traditionally, when we think of employee collaboration, we think of internal teams working on projects or brainstorming ideas. However, workplace collaboration today has evolved into a more strategic tool to connect workers, systems and processes to solve customer issues. Unified communications systems feature built-in chat applications, real-time presence, video, audio and web conferencing, and advanced phone features like intercom across locations, enabling seamless communications across an entire organization.
Beyond unifying communications services and methods, integrating a company’s communications system with their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications is also critical. Employees are often overwhelmed by having to administer multiple systems and as a result, the customer experience suffers. CRMS are great at centralizing important customer data for support and sales organizations. Integrating these powerful systems, streamlines the entire customer service process and allows employees to operate out of one system. This not only saves time, but it empowers all employees with the information they needed to deliver a more informed and efficient customer experience.
Enhancing the Customer Experience, Not Hindering it
The use of automated services, like auto attendants, can be incredibly beneficial to businesses. They help to streamline call management, ensuring customers are directed to the appropriate person or department and reduce staff time required for answering calls for general information like directions or business hours where a recording will suffice. And, when used properly, these features can really enhance how the customer experiences a business. However, we’ve all experienced a lengthy recording, menu tree or worse, no option to reach a live person. This is where taking the time to define a truly seamless customer experience and testing it goes a long way. Every customer is looking to speak to someone that can assist them with their particular issue, but timing is key. Ensuring a live person is accessible at all times and is also available quickly via the menu options defined by a business will ensure the best experience not only for the customer, but for the business as well. No customer wants to be lost in a complicated and lengthy menu tree. The same applies for call queues in your contact center. The technology implemented should be viewed as a positive from both the customer and business perspective, with the purpose and intent to improve customer service, not degrade it.
Customer service is a top priority for every business. With so much competition, the quality of service delivered and the way in which customers experience a brand will either enhance or diminish a customer’s loyalty and a business’ reputation. Understanding how these new technologies can help to meet customer needs and implementing them effectively, will ensure businesses are able to successfully meet the expectations of customers today.