There is a tendency for many startup founders and SME business owners to focus on customer acquisition as they are looking to grow their businesses.
However, studies conducted globally by leading firms such as Forrester have shown that success in B2B markets will be contingent not simply on your company’s ability to acquire customers but in its ability to retain them such that they will also serve as your company’s advocates.
In B2B, it is this customer advocacy that is a key driver in acquiring the kinds of business customers and growth you seek.
A key factor in turning your current business customers into advocates is to have a well thought out B2B customer service strategy to meet their ever-changing and demands needs.
Here are 10 tips for developing an effective B2B Customer Service Strategy
Customer feedback is a must
- Develop a process to obtain feedback from stakeholders with your customers
- Your aim is to get feedback on whether your products, services, systems and process are working or not
- Determine both WHY and HOW these elements must be improved
Understand B2B customer needs and expectations
- What do they expect from the outset in terms of training, support and advice?
- What are your customers’ expectations in terms of issue resolution, answering queries, service restoration?
- What channels do they want to use?
- What kinds of service levels and/or service guarantees do they seek?
- Understand your customers’ current needs and pain points as well as potential ones
- Where are there possible “points of failure?”
- What could possibly go wrong? How will you resolve the issue?
- What information should you make available to them? In what formats?
Co-create your B2B customer service strategies
- Develop and test your service strategies with your some of your business customers
- Be sure to include some from your key target segments and/or key accounts
Don’t assume that all B2B customers want self-service
- Business customers often have different service requirements such as the information and training requirements, channels and service levels
- Know when customers may require human interaction to resolve an issue
- Make it easy for customers to get human interaction and support
Remember all customers aren’t equal
- Some customers will undoubtedly be more valuable to you than others
- Consider having a tiered service strategy for different customers based on their value
- For instance, the “Gold-level” service for your most valuable customers may include additional reporting, 24/7 customer support while the “Bronze” service level may consist of primarily online self-service and call centre support
Engage with your business customers regularly
- Liaise with your business customers at regular intervals to discuss the relationship and business performance
- Continually examine and consider ways to improve both your product/service offering as well as the service and support
Empower your customer support staff
- Ensure that your customer support staff has both the required knowledge as well as the authority to be able to resolve issues and complaints in a timely manner that meets the expectations of your customers
Manage the entire customer relationship – not just individuals!
- Be sure you are managing and meeting the needs of key stakeholders across the organisation and not just the individuals you have a strong relationship with
- Your aim is to get widespread buy-in and support
Do what you say you will do!
- Take action based on the feedback you receive
- Be sure to communicate back to your customers letting them know actions to be taken and when
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About Michael Haynes
B2B Customer Acquisition & Growth Strategy Consultant
For over 20 years, Michael has worked with micro-businesses to large corporates alike across Australia and Canada, developing and implementing business growth strategies and programs.