4 Elements of Perfect B2B Customer Support
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
I was recently asked to give a presentation about elements that would make B2B SaaS customer support perfect. This was an interesting topic, as the answer could depend on the business and product/service in question. However, I narrowed down to 4 crucial elements that are applicable to all businesses and products. They’re all game-changing elements that can make or break your customer support!
#1. Self-service is offered for the customers
Customers expect to have self-service options available, like a Knowledge Base or other ways to do basic actions themselves.
Self-service can be offered in a variety of formats. For example, you can offer chat that is connected to the knowledge base. There should be a smooth transition from browsing a KB to talk with a live support representative. This means the customer can easily trigger a conversation with a representative (either a live chat or via email) without repeating the question again or jumping to another window to trigger this action. Ideally, the support representative would also see which knowledge base articles the user already checked, before starting to assist the customer.
Basic actions like changing subscriptions or profile information should be available for customers to do themselves. These actions should be easy to find and easy to do. If customers are unable to find answers within a few mouse clicks, it’s likely they’ll become frustrated and that leads to a poor overall experience.
#2. Support is provided fast
Several surveys reveal that customers expect fast responses. Social media, chat and phone are the most speed critical channels, but nowadays, customers have the same expectations even for emails!
With speedy responses, I do not mean an automatic notification confirming the request was received, but instead, an email offering suggestions to solve the issue or asking additional questions in order to troubleshoot it. First Response Time (FRT) should be kept low but it can (and should) vary between different communication channels.
Just as important as FRT are periodic updates, which are shared with the customer. If the request was complicated and can’t be answered with only one email, the next responses from the support representative should be sent quickly. It is crucial to keep the customer informed about progress and to show them you’re actively working on their request.
#3. Support representatives are friendly & knowledgeable
When customers contact customer support, they need to be treated well and with friendliness. If one of your communication channels is through phone, it is important to remember that even smiles can be expressed through your voice. If the majority of your communication happens in written format, the right attitude can be conveyed by using certain phrases and words.
It’s a good idea to set up internal values and identity for your customer support team, so that everyone follows the same guidelines and has the same understanding of what “friendliness” means in your company. You can read more about internal values from the blog post “Getting started: STEP5 - Identity”.
Friendliness takes you only so far, but when that is paired with top-notch knowledge, that is a winning combination.
Knowledge about the service / product is extremely important as this is the reason why customers contact reach out for help. They need answers, they need help or assistance in regards to your offering. It is the customer support team’s responsibility to provide this in an efficient and effective manner.
As mentioned in other blog posts, lack of knowledge is one of the reasons why customers feel like they’re receiving bad support. Maintaining the customer support team’s knowledge is an ongoing task, and some ideas on how to do that can be found in the “5 Ways to Increase Your Customer Support Team’s Knowledge” post.
#4. Customer Support knows their customers
When offering products/services for other businesses, it is much easier to get to know the people who contact your customer support. This is because in B2B usually the same people are contacting you, enabling customer support representatives to build personal relationships that can strengthen support experiences. Having such a relationship can help to bring friendliness to the next level, such as a more familiar and relaxed level, while retaining professionalism of course.
Knowing customers means also understanding their situation product-wise. Customer support should have visibility into customers orders or other contact points e.g. with the sales or success teams. (This should also work the other way, e.g. sales should be aware if a customer is facing challenges with the product, meaning that might not be the best moment to try to upsell!) Such features are incorporated in many ticketing systems and integration points to the CRM/ERP systems are provided, so that customer history can be shown.
Having clear visibility of customers’ history and orders can open the possibilities to:
1) talk about several open requests with a single point of contact
2) upsell or provide marketing about (new) features
3) share tips and tricks proactively with the customer
These 4 elements are all central to providing high-quality, performant customer support. Don’t settle for less, and ensure your provide your customers with excellent services from start to finish.