Companies operating in the business-to-business (B2B) space must constantly find ways to be better partners to their clients. Rather than operating on a ticket-by-ticket system, these businesses must understand their customers well enough to anticipate their needs proactively with the help of robust B2B customer support software. As this perspective quickly evolves from optional to mandatory, more organizations are taking a proactive approach to customer support.
In fact, researchers from Forrester predict that in 2016, more organizations will explore proactive engagement in their customer service strategies and leverage insights from those interactions to improve operational performance and even predict future behavior. As client-provider relationships evolve and customer expectations of support continue to rise, business must adopt proactive strategies to ensure their long-term success.
B2B vs B2C: Proactive support is a key differentiator
In an ideal world, both consumer- and business-facing organizations would approach customer service proactively. The reality is, that although in B2C it's a bit simpler, when it comes to B2B reactive client support simply isn't good enough. Businesses sign contracts with software companies and other services because they need to tap into third-party expertise to make their operations and visions possible. In this sense, companies that serve other businesses are directly tied to their clients' success, so customer support is really about maintaining the value of that relationship.
B2B customer support teams should go above and beyond to tap into their clients' needs and pain points, reaching out when it appears a client is struggling and even offering suggestions that could help improve the customer's operations. Ideally, a proactive support organization will understand the customer's business and processes thoroughly, and offer ongoing suggestions for improvement and/or best practices to strengthen their position as a valued partner..
Technology makes proactive service possible
Of course, customer service teams depend on technology to make proactive support possible, which is why collaborative customer support software is so valuable in the B2B space. For one, this type of technology enables cross-team collaboration so businesses can share insights and innovate to find new ways to improve the client's experience with their product or service.
In addition, powerful B2B customer support software empowers staff to access in-depth customer databases, which allow service teams to understand their clients at a company level. Finally, equipped with the right tools, customer support teams have access to features which can assess patterns and threats to provide a visual understanding of the customer's situation including potential risk, and allows them to reach out (proactively) to the client with solutions and longer-term strategies.
"Proactive support can boost customer retention by 3 to 5 percent."
Success and proactive support go hand-in-hand
Proactive customer support leads to long-term success for B2B organizations as well as their clients. Companies that regularly reach out to their customers with solutions, optimization strategies and best practices help those clients improve their own operations and increase their overall longevity. As a result, businesses that take this approach to customer service have a better chance of reducing customer churn and maintaining lasting, profitable relationships.
Beyond the positive impact of proactive support on client relationships, businesses that move on from reactive practices are well-positioned to save on operational costs. In fact, Forbes cited data from OpenSpan that reveals proactive customer service has the potential to:
- Reduce inbound customer service call volumes by 20 to 30 percent over a 12 month period.
- Lower call center operating costs by as much as 25 percent.
- Boost customer retention by 3 to 5 percent.
When support teams take the initiative to be better partners to their clients by reaching out with solutions and anticipating their needs, time spent routing issues is reduced while customer satisfaction increases. Not only does this approach translate to long-term success for clients, it means businesses save money on lost customers and lengthy solution processes.