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Avoid These 5 Pitfalls When Using Technology to Deliver a Great B2B Customer Experience

By Special Guest
Robert C. Johnson, CEO, TeamSupport
September 28, 2018

Your company’s success hinges on your ability to provide a great customer experience.  People look for value and innovation as well as specific features when evaluating new products and services.  When new technologies emerge and generate a lot of buzz, it’s tempting to embrace them, but it’s important to assess their utility in delivering a great customer experience.  That’s just as true for the business-to-business (B2B) world as it is in the business-to-consumer (B2C) sector.

Support technology allows companies to personalize the customer experiences to an unprecedented degree.  But, while advances in technology have the potential to enhance the customer experience, there can be pitfalls along the way, and it’s wise to avoid them.  Here’s a look at some of hidden traps support organizations can fall into when using technology, and strategies to steer clear of them for a competitive advantage.

Treating customer support technology like an ala carte menu

A common trap some companies fall into is adopting a mixed array of support technologies that don’t communicate with one another.  Technologies like web chat, self-service tools, and knowledge bases give customers a lot of options.  But, maintaining multiple systems or implementing services as add-ons that aren’t integrated into a centralized support platform makes it impossible to provide a seamless customer experience.

Customers expect a consistent B2B support experience when they move across channels to access help.  They don’t want to have to indicate – yet again – which product(s) they use or explain their issues repeatedly.  Who can blame them?  Businesses can deliver a better customer experience when all customer encounters (including live chat, email, telephone, etc.) are stored on a centralized support system that everyone can access.

Using self-service tools as a replacement for live support

B2B customers are increasingly using self-service options.  A Forrester article on top customer service trends in 2018 notes that self-service tools were used more than all other channels for the past three years.  Self-service is cost effective and available 24/7, which can broaden a company’s global appeal.  But, it’s a mistake to think that self-service tools can replace a live support rep altogether.

A better strategy is to think of self-service as part of a continuum.  Well-designed self-service tools give customers a way to rapidly find answers to basic questions, which allows them to quickly resume using your products or services.  But, self-service also frees customer support agents to handle more complex issues that require greater know-how, and it enables support teams to spend more time building relationships and focusing on customer success. 

Thinking AI will solve all your customer support issues

According to Gartner, 25 percent of customer service and support operations will use virtual customer assistants or chatbot technology by 2020.  Augmenting customer support with AI is a great idea, but, as with self-service, it’s crucial to view it as part of a broader customer support strategy rather than a panacea.

AI can’t replace agents or solve all B2B support issues, but it can help agents work faster and smarter.  For example, an AI-enabled support solution can analyze customer sentiment, identifying the degree of urgency in incoming messages to help customer success teams prioritize actions and communicate more effectively.  AI can also analyze usage data and topics in a knowledge base to identify patterns and gaps quickly, allowing businesses to improve their resources.

Using support technology designed for B2C instead of B2B

When providing support to another business, it’s important to not only resolve individual tickets from users, but to also manage the overall relationship with the businesses you serve.  That’s why it’s crucial to choose support software that addresses the specific needs of B2B support teams.  Trying to customize B2C support technology for B2B use wastes time and money, creating frustration for everyone involved.

With the right solution, companies can ensure that all customer inquiries are converted to tickets in a central platform with a single database, providing access to all relevant information while also tracking overall customer health.  This provides a competitive edge over businesses that use solutions built for the wrong industry, and it gives you visibility into how support impacts the B2B relationship overall.

In summary, there are several measures you can take to stand out in customer service, like providing customers with omnichannel support options, using AI to gauge customer sentiment, and deploying self-service tools.  Using support software built for B2B can greatly improve your success by bringing all information into a single space that everyone can access.

Just remember that technology should enhance the journey, not replace it.  To truly stand out in B2B customer support, you’ll need a cohesive strategy that includes swift issue resolution and management of the overall customer relationship.  Avoid the pitfalls mentioned above by focusing on the big picture so you can consistently deliver a great customer experience – and turn it into a competitive advantage.

Edited by Erik Linask
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