It’s one of the most important factors by which you can differentiate yourself from competitors: good service delivery. So you’d think everyone would just get on with it. Yet B2B companies in particular keep dropping this particular ball.
Customers want attention – as every entrepreneur knows. The fact is that most companies pay the lion’s share of that attention at the front-end of their sales process. This is especially true of B2B players. As soon as the deal is done and the product or service delivered, they barely give their customers a second glance. They’d say otherwise, of course. But then they’d have to admit to a lack of structured systems capable of managing this process in an intelligent way.
Grab a quick pizza
Yet service matters now more than ever. This has a lot to do with how accustomed we are to getting good service in our private lives. Although ‘spoiled’ is perhaps a better word here. If I want a pizza in half an hour? Not a problem – pop to Thuisbezorgd.nl [Home-delivered.nl] and it’s sorted. If I’ve got a complaint, I can immediately find the number to call on the website. And when I’m done, I can review the restaurant.
Many other consumer brands – which have been around the block a few times – have in recent years taken their customer contact to a higher level in a similar way. I recently phoned to put a question to the supplier of my home internet and television. I was connected to someone within 30 seconds and two minutes later, my problem had been solved. We expect the same level of service from companies that operate B2B.
Unhappy customers tell the world
Of course, every company has its share of dissatisfied customers. You too will have to deal with them, however hard you and your colleagues try. But the last thing you should do is file complaints away and forget about them. A happy customer shares their experience once or twice; an unhappy customer does this ten times on average. This figure on its own should be reason enough to consider customer service as the backbone of the organisation. As a department that’s not just there to process complaints, but one that makes a real contribution to your company’s growth.
To make this happen, you need structure. A well-organised system that makes it significantly easier for your employees to continue serving customers properly after their purchase. At many B2B companies, this happens haphazardly. A customer phones the company with a complex question about a product they bought a year ago. Your colleague who takes the call struggles to pull up the correct information on their screen. The account manager who might have known more is on holiday. The conversation ends with the promise that an email will be sent. A day goes by. Then another. And yet another. No less than four days later, the customer is back on the phone, finding it hard to conceal their irritation.
Become a service-driven organisation
One reason why many B2B companies have not yet succeeded in this relates to the quantity of sales. On an evening, Thuisbezorgd.nl might fulfil something like 2,000 orders across the whole of North Brabant. Over a period of three months, a company selling machines or software in the same region might acquire no more than a handful of new customers. This appears to minimise the sense of urgency to deliver good service.
Are you ready to become a truly service-driven organisation? The first thing to do is map out the whole customer journey. In particular, ask yourself what happens after a product has actually been delivered. What happens with a question or complaint, for instance? Is reception the right office to handle this? And how long might such a question be batted between different departments, without the customer receiving an answer?
Only once you have a clear picture of all this, can you start to build in structure. A system that ensures your customer always feels they are being heard, even after paying the invoice. The outcome is easy to guess: happier customers and a significantly higher chance of repeat purchases.