From Chaos to Harmony: Why It Might Be Time to Change Your B2B Customer Support Software
As published in CustomerThink.com, June 2, 2020.
In everyday life, people are bombarded with the concept of “change” and “switch.” Whether it’s driving by a billboard advertising a cool new car or seeing a phone company commercial on TV and wondering if you can get more data for less money, there is always someone out there trying to paint a picture of a greener pasture.
It happens in our work life, too. It’s common to get multiple emails a day requesting meetings or inviting us to webinars to learn about various software solutions. Companies want you to switch, but when it comes to B2B (business-to-business) customer support software, how do you know when it’s a good idea?
To get started, here is a list of questions to ask yourself so you can better understand if you need to make a change with your support software.
- Can managing support interactions be chaotic? Believe it or not, some companies are still relying on spreadsheets to manage different areas of customer support. This is often a clear sign of chaotic support interactions. Other signs include no software integrations (which creates duplicate work), software built for B2C (business-to-consumer) when they are B2B, and no set standards for responding to customers based on issue severity.
- Are your different support channels talking to each other? If your support team all too often tells a customer one thing via chat and another via email, it’s time to think about switching. A support software solution should be a home point for all customer interactions with information that is visible and accessible to support, sales, and product development teams.
- Are agents frustrated with support workflows? If a support team has high turnover and poor collaboration, it’s a major red flag that your support software is probably making internal communication difficult. Support software should simplify how team members work together and enable smooth customer interactions, not make it all confusing and frustrating.
- Is there an uptick in negative agent reviews and comments? Negative agent reviews and comments can fluctuate, but when they start feeling like the norm, it may be time to switch your support software. This is especially true if complaints are continually being escalated to the executive level because it’s the only way they can get resolved.
- Can your current support solution grow with your business? Surviving as a business is rarely about remaining at status quo, and companies who think like this are often left behind. Ensure your support software meets the needs of today but can also grow with your business through key integrations, automated technology, and much more.
Once you have asked yourself these questions—and answered them honestly—here are five steps for how companies should go about choosing their new B2B support software solution.
- Sit down and prioritize “needs” over “wants.”If your company is looking to switch your support software, you are likely feeling the pain of your current solution or workflow. Do internal research and figure out what key things you need in your support software solution, not just what you want to have. Examples include a key software integration or a ticket deflection capability.
- Figure out which support solutions fit your needs.To get started, look at sites like Capterra and G2 for comparison information. Keep an open mind, because you may actually find needs you did not even realize existed. One common example, some companies use support software built for the B2C industry because they may not know there are solutions built specifically for B2B with the macro-level customer/company relationship in mind. Features such as visual support, as another example, may not have deemed a need initially but can become one as they help streamline support operations.
- Determine a budget. Collaborate with your finance leader to set a budget that will take you through the entire transition. Even if a support software solution you like is slightly higher than your budget, you might negotiate a discount or pricing concessions. Better yet, ask the provider you are considering to demonstrate an ROI.
- Ask software providers for a demo.You may already know a support software has what you need by reading its website, but nothing matches an actual live support software demo with a product expert. They can frame how the software will meet your business needs and will get you started down the road of implementation and solving your pain points. Make sure they are actually listening to your needs and answering your questions, not just running through a standard demo.
- Always read the fine print.This is an important step for people new to buying software, and they often skip it. When you get a proposal or contract from a support software provider, be certain you are getting the price and features promised. Some support software companies will attempt to “lure in” customers with low prices, saying their solution has everything to meet the needs of your customers. But it won’t be able to meet these needs at every price tier, and the salesperson may not tell you this. Read over all documentation closely and understand the full scope of switching to your new solution.
Lastly, once you have chosen a solution and you are ready to make the switch, here are a few tips for managing the process and properly utilizing your new support software:
- Outline all the steps involved—from technical to training—and create a timeline for each task. Then prepare colleagues and vendors for their part in the switch. Neglecting even one person in the process can throw off your entire timeline.
- Organize existing assets and get them ready for the move. Most companies have existing information they want to migrate over from their legacy support software. Examples include self-service content, customer attachments, and historical tickets. After all, you want your support software to be the hub your team works out of, so it needs to be the home for all the information they need. This is also a great time to review and refresh content, such as self-service articles and placing priority on content that is frequently used and referenced by agents.
- Work with an onboarding specialist from your new provider.Once everything is ready, from the self-service content to the integrations, it’s time to actually make the switch! The best support software companies provide an onboarding specialist who will lead the charge in making the transition to their software.
- Get training and establish a new vendor relationship.The switch itself may be over, but there are several additional steps that still need to occur to ensure success with your new software. The first is professional training, sometimes onsite, by an onboarding or product specialist who will then hand your account off to a customer success manager who will be your long-term contact for any questions or issues that arise. They should check in frequently, especially in the initial weeks, to make sure everything is going smoothly and that you are happy with your decision.
Changing support software is a lot of work, but it can cause a monumental positive shift in the way a business operates and interacts with its customers.