Most companies today are collecting large amounts of customer data (often whether they want to or not). Many are finding that information useful for the purposes of marketing, sales and product or service improvement. By analyzing customer data, companies are in a better position to personalize service for each customer, and take advantage of opportunities that might not be otherwise visible.
According to research from Gartner (News - Alert), however, too many companies are still ignoring or wasting the data, perhaps because they don’t have the analytics solutions or expertise to crunch the numbers. For organizations selling lower cost products, they may not believe that the expense of reaping intelligence from raw customer data is worth it. For business-to-business organizations whose customer relationships tend to have much higher value, there may be enormous benefits from using customer data correctly, according to a recent article by Robert C. Johnson writing for Data Informed.
“When it comes to B2B, customer-related data is even more essential, because each client relationship is unique and complex,” he wrote. “B2B relationships often involve multiple customer contacts, as well as the company as a whole. Support requests typically revolve around more difficult tasks that require time, collaboration, and thorough understanding to solve. Arming your support and other business teams with data helps them better understand the customer and provide a better experience.”
One of the most critical elements of using data in business-to-business customer support is the ability to share information between support workers. Often, these people waste a lot of time hunting for answers to problems that have already been solved by other support personnel. Rather than “reinventing the wheel” each time, support centers can store and reuse the knowledge. Alternatively, a worker who lacks the knowledge to finish a transaction can consult with another worker in real-time without having to transfer the call, which is a common pain point for customers.
“The smartest, most successful companies have mechanisms, processes, and technologies such as collaborative customer support software in place to share client-related data with their support teams,” wrote Johnson. “As a result, agents are equipped to understand the whole relationship with the customer and see instantaneously what products the customer has, recent issues the customer has experienced, and any notes or comments from the sales and marketing teams about the account.”
Data sharing through collaboration is particularly critical for complex products or services that require the expertise of many departments, such as technical support, sales, accounting, warehousing and delivery or field service. It’s also ideal for companies looking to improve their quality of service while shaving precious time off each transaction: a Gartner study found that improved delivery of contextual knowledge to an employee or customer reduces a provider’s time to answer by 20 to 80 percent, which could lead to huge efficiencies in B2B customer support.
“The glue that holds teams together and allows them to share information and work collaboratively is data,” wrote Johnson. “Collaborative customer support software enables individuals to work in conjunction with various departments in the company by sharing that data throughout each phase of a client relationship.”
Edited by Maurice Nagle