Over the years, many people have subconsciously developed a negative association with the term “customer service”. Flashbacks to the turn of the century come to mind, waiting on hold only to be hung up on or so you can speak to a totally clueless agent that can’t solve your problem.
Fortunately, the internet has evolved and drastically changed the way B2B companies communicate with customers. From live chat to self-service, customers have more options than ever before to get their issues resolved. So, with these changes, why are businesses still so focused on traditional “customer service” and all of its negative baggage?
In reality, many businesses are no longer worrying about customer service, but instead they are focused on the true success of a customer and their business efforts. Thus, a more accurate term, customer success is starting to emerge that factors in all facets of communication within a company and how these conversations impact the bottom line.
Here are some of the major reasons why B2B customer success is the new customer service…
Customer success is more than just an “answering a question” service model – Arguably the biggest change businesses see when they focus on customer success relates to direct communication. In traditional customer service, a “what are your business hours?” inquiry is a throw-away conversation. Under the lens of customer success, a micro interaction such as the question above is also given a macro focus. It isn’t discarded at all; in fact, it’s being analyzed and stored by customer success software so additional steps can be taken. Months from now, leadership can review this information to see what time of day people are asking about hours. If a lot of the inquiries are right after closing time, it may make sense to change employee shifts to grant an additional hour of coverage. Customer success takes conversations that seem meaningless and attempts to decipher their true value and purpose so positive customer experiences can come to life.
Customer service is departmental, customer success is company-wide – For too long, punting conversations to the customer service team has been a crutch for other departments. And, to be fair, sometimes leadership even encouraged it! However, it’s now time for these departments to change their way of thinking. Customer service is more than just assisting customers with basic requests, the conversations happening in this department impact sales, marketing, product development, and many other areas of a business. With service having this type of impact, the mindset that they are the only team responsible for the happiness of customers’ needs to end. With customer success, it’s all about being on the same team as your customers to create a working environment that fosters joint success every single day. This means key employees across the entire company have direct access to customer success software and are jumping in to help customers as needed.
The link between the success of your B2B customers to your business is very real – Relationships in the business world are like a chain in the sense that they are only as strong as the weakest link. But, when your livelihood as a business relies on smart customers making good decisions, sometimes that chain can fracture when they make the wrong call. This means lost revenue for your own company and stunted growth. To avoid these scenarios, focus on customer success by changing your B2B company culture to be proactive with every customer and have regular check-in meetings. Extend the conversation beyond traditional service metrics and take the time to get a better understanding of their business. Learn about the “health” of each customer, such as key deals won or lost revenue, as well as their upcoming plans. The more knowledge your business has, the better it can plan for future success to keep both you and your customers happy.
In short, B2B customer success is the new customer service because it creates a much-needed fundamental shift in business communication. The customer becomes more than just dollar signs and a fancy name for advertising on a website or marquee. Customer success is all about making the customer the focal point of business operations and viewing their happiness as the top priority. In addition, technology is leveraged as a true backbone within the customer success model to ensure customer needs are being met and that even the smallest conversations have an impact. Customer success may be a change in corporate mindset, but at the end of the day it’s a selfless shift in perspective that, in turn, provides great benefits to your own business.
About Robert C Johnson
Robert C. Johnson is the co-founder and CEO of TeamSupport.com, a cloud-based, B2B software application built to help customer-facing support teams serve clients better through stronger collaboration, superior teamwork, and faster issue resolution. A seasoned executive and entrepreneur who has founded and invested in numerous software and high-tech companies, Robert’s industry experience as a business leader and a customer inspired him to create TeamSupport to give Support Desk teams the tools and best practices to enhance customer loyalty and positively impact product sales.
Prior to founding TeamSupport, Robert was President and CEO of Sundance Digital, one of the world’s leading providers of automation software to television and cable broadcasters. The company was sold in 2006 to Avid Technology (Nasdaq: AVID).