Business Practices | | Published August 03, 2015

Why Customer Visibility is a Challenge for SMBs

We recently commissioned a study through GetData* to better understand the customer service challenges faced by small and mid-sized businesses. (SMBs). Not surprisingly, a lack of resources, such as customer service reps or budget, is the biggest challenge reported. What we found really interesting though is that the second most common challenge is not having enough customer visibility.


If you follow us at all, you know that TeamSupport is a huge supporter of better understanding your customers in order to provide an exceptional customer experience. We also strongly advocate using a customer support software that focuses on the customer rather than on tickets or complaints, because that will help you gain that deeper understanding of your customers. This means full visibility into EVERY interaction - from support calls, to emails, to sales and even accounting interactions. It means seeing live chat conversations, social media posts, and records of phone calls (ideally all in one central system of course).

When you have full visibility into your customers' dealings with your company, you start to get a better picture of their needs, pain points, features they'd love to have, and overall your relationship with them. If you are a B2B customer service provider, then it goes a step further and means you see all of that at an individual contact level, as well as at a company level - so you can unite the data and understand the entire customer relationship.

This allows you to become a true partner for your customer, one who anticipates their future needs and solves problems before they actually become a problem for the customer. You become their ally in facing the day to day challenges that arise in running a business, and you work together to improve the relationship on an ongoing basis. Customers like these are not only a joy to work with, they become your loyal advocates and help your business grow, both from their own parallel growth, and their enthusiasm to spread the word and get others working with you as well. 

The 3rd most commonly reported challenge reported by SMBs is a lack of integration between the customer support system and other business systems like CRM and development software. This is so important because again, it relates back to understanding your customers better - to provide an exceptional experience you MUST align your small business CRM (customer relationship management) and support systems. These will account for the greatest number of customer interactions, and so to get that visibility, it is a necessity. We would argue the same for your product/software development programs - while your customer data won't be included there, your product & development teams should also be closely aligned with sales and support. How else will they know what issues/bugs are the most common, or what features are most often requested? How can you build a product roadmap without customer feedback? And why would you do that manually when you could integrate your systems to do it for you, at least the heavy lifting. Software integration is more closely aligned with customer satisfaction than you would think - as our CEO, Robert Johnson, likes to say: "the closer your development team is to your customer, the better your product (and their satisfaction) will be." 

Our final point - the remaining 3 customer service challenges reported by SMBs were high support costs, unhappy customers, and too many support requests. We would be remiss in not addressing these, and pointing out that with the right customer support software each of these will be addressed by default - along with the top 3 noted above.

Looking for a customer support software that will help you get better visibility at a customer level? Watch our short intro video, and contact us with any questions - we're happy to help!

*GetData is the independent research arm of GetApp, the biggest online marketplace for business apps. GetData aims to answer questions about how the world of SaaS impacts small and medium-sized businesses.