Due to contractual obligations like service level agreements, one of the biggest challenges facing B2B companies is solving customer problems.
These problems are often exponentially more complicated than those B2C customers face. After all, your customers often rely on you for mission-critical products and services. If you’re unable to get them the maximum return on their investments, it doesn’t take long before they look elsewhere.
Many B2B organizations spend more time solving problems, with things like service quality and product support, than allocating their resources towards company growth. From a customer’s perspective, that’s exactly the way it should be – but giving your customers the support they need doesn’t have to take so much time and energy.
It’s safer to take a proactive approach, realizing that the break/fix support model just doesn’t cut it anymore. Here’s how.
#1. Build a Self-Service Portal
One of the biggest reasons why customers choose you over your competitors is because they’re expecting impeccable customer support. That’s not likely to happen if they spend a big part of their daily routines opening support tickets or waiting in a queue on the phone to speak to a customer service representative. That’s why a self-service portal – such as an online knowledgebase and customer support forum – is critical to empower users with the ability to solve common problems on their own.
A healthy B2B self-service community is driven by reliable information gathered by existing customers and their experiences. Instead of having your support team allocate precious resources to solve trivial issues, customers will be able to find solutions to common problems with a quick search through your self-service knowledge base. This also empowers your best and most experienced customers to become advocates, building trust and loyalty in your brand.
#2. Develop Problem-Resolution Strategies
Chances are you’ve collected a great deal of valuable information from your existing online communities and customer interviews. The next big step is determining which feedback and resolutions to listen to, and how to best prioritize problems and develop resolution strategies around them. Prioritizing issues starts with classifying problems based on the impact they have on your customers, and their intensity and frequency.
There are few better ways to develop a clear understanding of your customers and the challenges they face than by leveraging the potential of online communities. With a closely monitored and active branded community, you’ll be better able to build meaningful relationships with your customers.
This is why B2B companies must treat their customers as business partners rather than customers, and create problem-resolution strategies that align with their individual needs.
#3. Provide Multiple Ways for Customers to Reach You
Given that your reputation is now primarily in the hands of your customers, there’s very little room for error when it comes to B2B customer support. While a self-service community can drastically reduce the number of support tickets inundating your customer service team, it’s not the be-all and end-all. You need to be consistently present and ready to resolve new problems that don’t have any viable solutions posted.
While still extremely important, a peer-to-peer support community isn’t a replacement for traditional customer service channels. It might be the front line for today’s customer experiences, but your customers need to reach you in a way that best suits their needs. That’s why many B2B companies also offer live chat functionality and more traditional communication methods, such as telephone and email. Providing as many options as possible will ensure that customers’ frustrations don’t end up dominating public channels like social networks and online review platforms.