At a time when economic, social and political complexity dominate headlines and minds, companies need to follow their customers and provide services that sit at the edge of expectation
Frictionless, convenient, consistent and fast. These are the keywords that define business-to-business (B2B) customer service and, according to PwC, are the route to ensuring that the organisation raises the bar and retains customer loyalty. It is echoed by McKinsey in the B2B Pulse survey that found the winners within B2B customer service are those paying attention to digital excellence and personalised service. As Quintin van Zyl, Head of Managed Services at qwerti, emphasises, the key is to follow the customer by providing an architecture of services that deliver value.
“Right now, customers want value that extends beyond just the services they pay for,” he adds. “They want to know that your company is interested in their company beyond the bill at the end of the month, and this means deep engagement with customers that goes down into budgets, costs, architecture and scale.”
This is particularly relevant for managed services providers. Customers often feel that they lack visibility into costs and service structure and this can create tension, particularly when they don’t feel that value is part of the equation. This can be as simple as refining expenditure along with the client, or as complex as redefining the architecture provided to the customer so that money can be freed up through optimisation.
“This doesn’t bypass the absolute necessity of providing exceptional hands-on service to customers 24/7,” says van Zyl. “Nothing is going to alienate a customer faster than poor service and limited problem resolution. While most will be accommodating of a troubleshooting process and of limitations around third-party service providers and the levels of complexity that surround certain problems, it remains critical that the customer always feels that there is momentum when it comes to solving their problems.”
Maintaining this momentum while smoothing ruffled customer feathers requires a culture shift. Support teams can’t dismiss the stress of an employee unable to print, for example. They need to show that they are invested in resolving the problem and provide the customer with clear timelines. This provides the customer with a sense of control and visibility, and it shifts the dynamic to one of agile responsiveness.
“In the past, support often would simply say that they would call back later and leave users feeling frustrated,” says van Zyl. “This may have worked once, but not anymore. The market has changed and users want to know timelines, they want to know how a problem will be resolved, and they want all of this within a package that emphasises service delivery and security.”
Security is absolutely key. It underpins the foundation of any managed services solution and should be the priority when it comes to planning support and providing a service. Companies must have clear policies in place to ensure that the person providing support is who they say there are, that limit access to critical customer information, and that provide ongoing visibility into the threats that could potentially affect the customer’s company. This means end-user training and constant visibility into phishing, fraud, scam and ransomware threats so everyone is aware of the risks.
“You need to ensure you can protect against the risk of a rogue employee, poor security hygiene and lack of security understanding,” says van Zyl. “This is perhaps one of the most important spaces where companies can add value to their customers. Ensuring that security is a priority alongside rigorous training and visibility means your clients feel that they’ve invested into a trusted ally rather than just into a service provider.”
Providing truly engaging and value-based B2B customer experiences within the managed services market is complex, but not impossible. It just needs to be frictionless, cost-effective, and transparent while building relationships that cement trust.