For B2B customers, great support is a critical deciding factor in staying with a vendor. The Harvard Business Review found that elements of excellent support – expertise and responsiveness – were the biggest determining factors for customer loyalty in B2B transactions.
So how does customer support help you retain customers? Beyond the obvious solution of fixing problems that frustrate your buyers, your customer support teams are the front line for continual customer interactions.
Think about it: after your sales teams close the deal and onboard your latest customers, how do you find out if they're having great experiences with your product? Feedback like five-star reviews and metrics like contract renewal rates offer part of the answer. To get customers to that point, however, requires a proactive approach to support.
This is where a lot of companies slip up. They're focused on building the next product release – the next big thing – and they wait for customers to come to them with feedback. But, if your customer is always bringing problems with your software to your teams, then these negative experiences are the direct impression they will have of your company.
Your B2B customer retention rate is tied to positive customer support interactions. A reactive approach might seem easier, but it'll cost your business in the long run. If you offer a seamless and pleasant experience and consider how to get ahead of problems before they occur, you're making it easy for your customers to continue working with your product for the long haul.
As you're building out your customer support teams to match customer demand, you should ensure that every customer feels like they matter. You can immediately implement a few tactics to get started with improving your customer retention rate.
Make it easy for customers to connect with you
When your customers have a problem with your product, they want to reach you to find out how to fix it. Problems can slow down their business functions, and time lost on broken software is frustrating for teams of all sizes. Your customer support team exists to relieve this burden and give time and energy back to your customers so that they can get their own business done. With this in mind, you can build out several channels to guide your customers to your support teams and solve their most troubling issues.
An easy way to get out in front of this issue is to run a quick audit of your website and make sure you have a contact link on every page. When your customer is already frustrated by a problem they can't solve, adding to the frustration by not providing enough paths to reach you won't help your cause. Whether your support team has only a single email address or uses a developed omnichannel customer support system – with support presences on email, phone, chat, and more – making the path more prominent shows your customers that you want them to contact you with questions and concerns.
Companies can also stay ahead of problems by setting up recurring calls with customers with team members from both customer support and customer success. You can check in on their experiences with your company on a regular basis and work through any issues before they escalate. Not only that, but you can also form a stronger relationship that isn't based entirely on solving their problems with your products. It creates a healthier line of communication with your customers and shows that you care about them having positive experiences with your offerings. That goes a long way toward retaining your current customers and having them spread the word about your business to other potential customers.
Add a personal touch to customer support interactions
Just about everyone has had that kind of customer support experience, the one where you feel like you're only another number or ticket. When you're struggling to solve an important problem on a tight deadline, feeling like you're lost in the support shuffle leaves the worst kind of impression. When it comes to your business, you could make your customer support interactions feel very personal when you only had a handful of customers. But as your number of customer accounts grows, how do you continue to provide a meaningful personal touch to every interaction?
A capable customer support software system can be useful in setting up your support agents with the solutions they need to personalize interactions. If you have support forms with fields to fill out, or a customer puts their name and company in their emailed ticket, you can use that information for personalization. For example, add their name to the first line of your response. Like any other email messages your team would send, every support email and ticket response leaving your team should be targeted to one person and feel like it's unique.
The right software can also help your team follow up to show they're still thinking about the customer and ensuring they have the best experience possible. For example, if your support agents can view the usage of your software and see that a customer hasn't tried the solution you provided, they can follow up with another email to see if more support is needed. You can share additional resources, like an article or video discussing the problem more in-depth and provide other means to help your customer.
In addition, you can also examine your industry and consider how else you can personalize a customer support experience. A small gift on a regular basis can serve as a great reminder – holiday treats are a common way to do this – but think about what else you could offer to keep your company top of mind. If your industry doesn't allow for gift-giving, even something as simple as a hand-signed thank you card can set you apart from the pack. You can create memorable support experiences because of the good elements you provided on all fronts.
Create a self-service portal that has great content
An often-overlooked way of simplifying your customer support experience is letting your customers solve problems on their own. Put yourself in your customer's shoes: Isn't it far easier to spend a few minutes with a DIY article than to go back-and-forth with a support agent via email for days on what should be a simple fix?
Make it easy for your customers by building a self-service portal. As your support agents take on more tickets, be sure you're cataloging the most common issues. From that list, you can draft the most important articles for clients to use to fix issues themselves and add them to your portal. Your customers can solve common problems with no hassle while your agents don't spend time answering the same questions.
Self-service content also gives you flexibility on how to explain a solution. Embedded video solutions can save your customers a lot of time by showing them the exact steps to take for solving a highly complex problem. Good customer service software can track data on common problems and provide you with the information you need to develop the right kinds of content to answer these problems.
Overall, B2B companies are still run by people, and these people want and expect an excellent experience with your product. Proper software and self-service content create the basis for a strong customer support program. When your support team is enabled to provide attentive service with a personalized touch, your B2B customers will walk away with positive experiences they'll remember when it's time for them to decide whether or not to renew with your business.