B2B customer service strategies play an important role in both attracting and retaining customers today. Why are they so important now and how are you serving your customers?
In the world of B2B especially, customer service is everything. You might offer the latest software, be a trusted vendor partner, frequently attend or speak at industry events, and beat the competition on cost. But your customers won’t remain your customers for long if you don’t meet their service expectations.
We know this because we see it every week when talking with B2B prospects.
A business owner or someone else from the board picks up to the phone to us because their marketing isn’t working and they don’t know why, or they want to increase revenue growth and profitability. But when we dig into this with them, that's really the tip of the iceberg, because there's no point fixing lead generation when the customers who do close don't buy again or renew.
"We talk a lot about funnels and flywheels. Well this business? It's a sieve, and its customers are leaking straight through."
The modern B2B environment is a hotbed of challenges. Why is good customers service so important to your marketing performance and how can better serving you customers help your generate more revenue?
The growing demand for service in the IaaS space
Earlier this month I read an article published by Cogeco Peer 1’s vice-president Susan Bowen about the growing demand for management services in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) space.
"Customers apparently now have high expectations from their cloud IaaS providers," revealed Cogeco Peer 1's vice-president Susan Bowen.
They demand market-leading technical capabilities, according to Gartner with “a depth and breadth of features, along with high availability, performance and security”. They also, crucially, expect management rather than simply “hardware” infrastructure features," Susan revealed. "In other words, they demand service."
Susan’s insights are based on a study conducted by managed technology provider Cogeco Peer 1 aimed at IT decision makers, but the trend is indicative of a growing demand across B2B industries for service that better meets customer expectations.
The importance of B2B customer service today
The digital space has never been more competitive. You’ve found yourself shouting louder, investing more budget into your sales and marketing processes to keep the pipeline healthy, but your competitors are doing the same, and their new customers are the people your service is currently letting down.
As humans, it’s natural to want to share our experiences with others (good or bad). If a customer’s experience is especially positive or negative, you can rest assured they’ll want to broadcast it. Today, this is often online and for the world to see — including your prospects.
If your business fails to meet just one customer’s expectations, this can escalate into negative feedback that becomes detrimental to how others perceive your brand. That’s why delivering exceptional levels of customer service are crucial — especially in B2B industries, where sectors are niche, competition is fierce, budgets are tight, and a trusted referral can expedite months or sometimes years of relationship building.
Start winning with this B2B customer service strategy
Here’s a thought: instead of the traditional sales funnel, where you lose visitors, prospects, and marketing-qualified leads at each stage, look at sales, marketing, and service as a flywheel. A flywheel is the part of an engine that is designed to keep it running smoothly, and once it’s spinning, it's hard to stop.
When viewed in this way, your B2B customer service strategies need your marketing, sales and service activities to be in balance. All of your communications with the outside world are marketing, they are also sales, they are also service. If these are not coherent and working together, your flywheel won't spin smoothly.
In the same way that marketing should be feeding sales, it's your services that should be feeding your marketing. What do your customers, your suppliers, and your network think about your services? What do they say? What do they think the value you add is?
Build a modern customer service system with the HubSpot Service Hub
Cogeco Peer 1’s study revealed "the vast majority of respondents (85%) believe that their organisation’s most prominent current IT vendor can improve its service, with only 14% stating that they are satisfied with the current service they receive."
"Over half of those in our survey (54%) stated that their IT vendor’s service is one of the most pressing things they could improve," Susan wrote. "This may mean something as simple as having dedicated technical account managers, fast-turnaround on enquiries and 24/7 support."
Investing in B2B technology, specifically customer service software, that makes it easy to connect with and truly help customers is another way businesses across the B2B space are achieving this.
"Service Hub gives you modern customer service tools to adapt to today’s empowered customers," HubSpot writes on its new customer service software launch earlier this year. "Now you can understand their needs, improve customer satisfaction, and ultimately exceed their expectations."
The growing importance of B2B service excellence
It's more important than ever that your website is optimised for search and your content satisfies new visitors when they click through to your site. But whichever sector you're in, you’re missing a huge opportunity by not better serving your existing database.
"Inevitably there will be some casualties as the market continues to settle," Susan writes, on the disruptive development in technology currently sweeping the IaaS space. "The key to not becoming one of those casualties is to understand that some things — such as the value of good customer service and having the trust of those customers — is vital, both in keeping the goodwill and custom of those customers, but also in learning to anticipate and fulfil their requirements in a fast-changing space."
For many, the importance of B2B customer service strategies is old news, but in a time when sales and marketing people are feeling the pressure to grow traffic and close deals, it's easy to undervalue your current customers. The numbers in your CRM are more than just digits. You're selling to real people with real needs, people who have taken the leap and invested in your products or services. How could you better serve them?
- How to Create a B2B Buyer Persona in 7 Simple Steps
- There and Back Again: The Importance of the B2B Buyer Journey
- How B2B Leaders Are Using Inbound to Adapt Their Operations (Part 1)
- How B2B Leaders Are Using Inbound to Adapt Their Operations (Part 2)
Learn how you can maximise the value of your database and increase revenue by talking to one of our experts. Click below to get in touch.