B2B Customer Support: Up in the Cloud or Down on the Ground? Part 1

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Once you decide to implement a new B2B customer support software, the first step is determining if the system should be cloud based or on premise.

You want to stop focusing only on getting tickets closed and instead work on building strong relationships with your customers. You’ve determined that e-mails and spreadsheets are no way to manage support interactions. And you want to break down the silos between support, sales, and product development and improve collaborations between these departments.

Based on our eBook, B2B Customer Support: From Discovery to Onboarding and Beyond, once you decide to implement a new B2B customer support software solution, the first step is to do an internal assessment to determine how to choose the right provider. That includes determining if the system you choose should be cloud-based (a server hosted in the Cloud) or on-premise (application is installed and maintained on the company's internal servers).

This blog series will give you a good starting point to understand the basic differences between the two as it relates to B2B customer support.

Cost Effectiveness and Flexibility

Cloud: B2B companies often handle large accounts with high volume and order value, so the ability to scale up or down quickly in response to customer needs is key. With no capital investment and little to no implementation costs, SaaS (software-as-a-service) subscription-based pricing—enabled by the Cloud—allows customers to pay monthly according to what they need and add contacts as they grow.

What it also means is that they can end their subscription at any time. Customer support organizations must have tools and strategies in place to allow them to take a proactive approach to retaining customers and look for opportunities to grow revenue from existing customers.

 On-premise: Large capital investment and high up-front implementation cost make it prohibitive for small- and mid-sized firms. It’s also not as dynamic when customers scale.

Speed of Implementation and Training

Cloud: Simple set-up lends itself to a fast implementation and efficient onboarding of staff. Support departments, and the entire business, can start realizing benefits of their B2B customer support system almost immediately.

On-premise: A complex set-up leads to a long implementation and complicated training process. Installation may require you to hire outside contractors. Additionally, an IT team will likely be necessary for the upkeep of systems, and you must factor in additional costs for maintenance, power, and upgrades.

Customization

Cloud: Cloud-based SaaS B2B customer support systems tend to be fully customizable when serving the unique needs of each business and easily allow for scaling without additional IT configurations. There is no need to purchase and install additional servers to support the growth of your company; it is handled automatically by the software provider.

In addition to seamless updates to customizations, frequent system updates with new features are added on a regular basis.

On-premise: Tailored solutions that are customized onsite allow for more complex customizations and scalability. And upgrades and new features require an IT team.

Visibility

Cloud: Any approved user has access to your B2B customer software system from anywhere on any device with a secure login. 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 the company level, so you can unite the data and understand the entire customer relationship.

You can also get a true sense of how each customer is using your system. This is particularly important for new customers as you want them to experience all of the benefits your software offers as soon as possible.

On-premise: Visibility is limited to just as the name implies—on premise.

Particularly in these current times when work from home is common, and in many locations, mandatory, it’s important to maintain the access to your B2B customers’ activities, usage, status of tickets, and sentiment. All of which can be accomplished with a cloud-based system.

But what about security? We’ll address that in Part 2 of this blog series. Don’t play well with others in the same sandbox? That’s okay, we have a solution for that as well, also in Part 2. See you there!