Gone are the days when your sales personnel could drive the process of customer acquisition with their gift of the gab. Today, buyers rely on informative landing pages, websites, educational videos, blogs, and user reviews to choose vendors in an informed manner. Forrester indicates that 68% of B2B customers prefer to research online independently.
In addition to up-to-date and relevant digital channels, buyers also expect speed and efficiency when it comes to customer service and query resolution. Consequently, B2B companies are rapidly adopting technologically advanced support systems such as live chat, social media, cobrowsing, etc. to offer their customers real-time support. Online community platforms and support pages are also becoming popular to provide customers with the answers they need, without reaching out to support, especially outside working hours.
Importance of Customer Support for B2B Sales
For most B2B companies, products or services offered are more or less stable. Thus, when it comes to choosing between two brands offering the same product or service, the company that provides best and consistent customer support almost always wins.
According to a survey, 70% of customers believe that the quality of support reflects how much an organization values them – which means that keeping your users’ waiting is a reflection of your indifference towards them.
In terms of sales and transactional value, 7 out of 10 U.S. consumers will spend more money to buy from a company that delivers great customer service. The opposite scenario is 51% of consumers will never buy from the company after one bad service experience.
The message is clear, isn’t it?
In an era where better customer experience means higher engagement and sales, offering better and consistent support to your customers across multiple touchpoints could be the key to trumping your competition in the market. Below, we share five tips or best practices that will help you optimise your customer support channels and boost your sales effectively.
4 Best Practices to Improve B2B Sales
1. Customize the support package
All B2B buyers are not the same. Besides, the presence of multiple decision-makers in a single company makes it imperative to customize your support package as per your customers’ preferences.
For example, if your target companies comprise young teams, you may benefit from integrating self-help options, such as AI-enabled chatbots that enable quick, as well as 24-hour customer support. Gartner points out that “By 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions will be completely handled by AI, an increase of 400% from 2017.”
2. Serve your niche segment
Most businesses today work on wafer-thin margins and are continually looking for solutions to improve their operational efficiency. By establishing yourself as a thought leader in a particular niche, you can win the trust of businesses in that field, naturally inclining their purchase decision in your favor.
One of the best ways to achieve this is by publishing thoughtful, research-backed, useful content on your website and other places, focused on resolving the key issues faced by your buyers. If you are looking for inspiration, visit Hubspot to check out their fantastic blog with various ‘how to’ articles exemplifying the inbound marketing methodology.
Remember, there’s no point in being a jack of all trades and master of none. Instead, focus on a particular niche and establish yourself as a master!
3. Compete on “service quality” by defining Service Level Agreement
A multi-level service level agreement or SLA could be the defining factor for your company by making customer service the heart of your organization. An SLA of this nature defines service quality, creating specific standards of service to be achieved by every department, including sales and marketing. A good SLA also standardizes the sales process, making each employee within a department understand his or her role better.
4. Investment in customer support tools
Customer support technologies such as live chat can reduce the response time significantly while enabling you to connect to your users in real-time. By integrating live chat software on your website, you empower users to connect with you at the precise moment they need help on their purchase journey – leading to higher customer satisfaction and more sales. No wonder then that vendors that use live chat increase their chances of conversion by up to 3X as compared to businesses that don’t.
Enabling seamless live chat support across your website and mobile devices enable customers to reach out to you on-the-go, making it easier for them to purchase from you, which could be a key differentiator in the market.
Here are some stats that highlight the importance of live chat in B2B:
- Reduce Costs: Live chat enables your support staff to engage more than one customer at a time, making it almost 50% cheaper than handling phone calls.
- Build Trust and loyalty: A study by Oracle found that 90% of customers feel confident about buying on a website when they see a live chat button and 63% of consumers are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat.
Of course, only incorporating live chat software on your website isn’t enough. You need to train your support staff to use this feature optimally for best results. For example, your staff can ask for contact details at the start of any conversation to provide a more personalized experience. In case the chat user is not an existing customer, the staff can ask them whether they are interested in receiving news and promotional material from your company.
Live chat software may also provide demographic information about users, as well as, their recent browsing history, enabling sales agent to connect with them better.
Here are some tips to empower your customer-facing team for best results:
- Have a ‘best-practices’ manual for the support team to reduce effort within workflows.
- Adopt a customer-centric business approach through focused recruitment programs and tools.
- Use performance analytics to determine best behaviors that click with clients.
- Provide digital assistants, such as chatbots, live chat, and co-browsing software to reduce workload, optimize costs, and gain relevant and useful insights.
Integrate your Customer Relationship Management Software with Customer Support for Better Customer Experience
Many businesses use customer relationship management (CRM) software, such as SugarCRM, Salesforce, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM to track data of individual clients. Such information helps the sales team understand customers better and offer more personalised services. However, most businesses use separate customer support software, and integrating their CRM system with customer support software can provide a much better customer experience.
An integrated CRM system ensures consistent communication by creating a unified system that provides your agents with complete customer information across their sales journey. An integrated system also makes it easier to track and manage customer information as information from multiple teams (marketing, sales, and customer service) is stored in a single place. Talking about customer experience, an integrated CRM system not only leads to higher personalisation but also complete automation. With an integrated CRM, you can directly convert customer emails into tickets using a common email ID, send automated responses, create impactful email marketing campaigns, and save new data centrally.
The world of B2B is constantly changing. Today, customers are not only interested in knowing about your product or service. They also want to know how your product or service can solve their existing problems or help them meet their business goals effectively.
Thus, simply enumerating the benefits of your product will not take you anywhere. However, adding a personal touch to the sales process through targeted content and seamless omnichannel support can take your business a long way.