By Dr Thomas Brown | June 18 2018
In the same way that marketing feeds sales, your services should feed marketing, highlighting the growing importance of B2B customer service strategies.
You offer the latest software, you’re a trusted vendor partner, you frequently attend or speak at industry events, and you 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.
Rarely have they considered the significance of satisfied customers as one part of their inbound marketing strategies.
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 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 a human, it’s natural to want to share your 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.
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 strategy needs your marketing, sales and service 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?
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 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’, writes HubSpot on its new customer service software launch earlier this year. ‘Now you can understand their needs, improve customer satisfaction, and ultimately exceed their expectations.
It is 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 is old news, but in a time when sales and marketing professionals are feeling the pressure to grow traffic and win deals, it can be easy to undervalue your current customers. The numbers in your CRM are more than just digits. We’re talking about real people with real needs, people who have taken the leap and invested in your products or services. It’s time we started taking better care of them.
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.
Principal Copywriter at BabelQuest. PhD Creative Writing from the University of Southampton. Novelist with Sparkling Books.
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