How to Train Your B2B Customer Support Team to Build Loyal Customers

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In B2B, your customer is your most important asset. Not only do you rely on them to ensure the success of ongoing operations, but you rely on them as referrals to potential customers so that your business can continue to thrive in the future.

Building these trusting relationships with customers takes time and constant interaction. In B2B customer support, there is no “one size fits all” solution, and that makes training the “face” of your business – your customer support team – especially important in building customer loyalty. Here are three tips to consider when training your B2B customer support team to build a loyal following.

1. Empower your agents.

One way B2B customer support differs from its B2C quid pro quo is the level of complexity involved in business related matters. A simple script with predefined answers is unacceptable in B2B, and although standard answers recited on a piece of paper may be accepted in B2C, business customers expect more.

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Giving agents the latitude to make decisions that impact customers can help resolve issues quickly and retain customers. This means breaking away from the typical multilevel support model, which often results in customers being referred from one support agent to another and does not inspire loyal behavior. Using a collaborative support model, or even dedicated support, means that the same agent or team will stay with the customer from first contact until resolution.

Whether it’s involving another department or making an on-the-spot decision rather than asking a supervisor, giving your support team the autonomy to take care of your customers will help build loyalty. Maintaining consistency throughout the process will show your customers that you are seriously invested in their business and ultimately their success.

2. Reduce customer efforts.

We all contacted support and had to provide a ton of information – name, email, company etc. – just to determine if an agent is able to help with the problem. In B2C, this is all too common, but the expectations for B2B support are much higher: you are, after all, part of their business. Train your B2B agents to make support as easy as possible for your customers by using technology to reduce their efforts. For example, instead of asking for all of this information, train agents to immediately review the customer’s location / division, revenue, and job title so they get a feel for the business impact as well as the role and the likely mood of the person. The more an agent knows about a client, the more empathetic they can be.

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In B2B, unlike B2C, it is important to be empathetic in multiple conversations with the same customer to create genuine customer loyalty. You can achieve this by focusing on the right information (location, ticket volume, satisfaction, etc.) for each customer, both at the contact level and at the company level. In B2B, you deal with multiple contacts, potentially in multiple divisions and locations. As a B2B support provider, you need to understand all of this and provide the right information and training to your agents to properly resolve issues.

Plus, make sure agents can quickly understand past issues so they can come up with specific solutions. If a customer has a recurring problem, you don’t want agents to come up with a “solution” that has failed before. On the other hand, an agent acknowledging previous attempts and moving forward can go a long way in building confidence. This is where customer support software is essential not only because of the information it provides, but also because it promotes effective communication. B2B software can also help you manage customer service level agreements (SLAs). Making sure your customer support team lives up to the promises made by the sales team when creating the business deal is another way to build loyalty, so train your agents to pay close attention to SLAs.

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3. Train agents in the art of saying “no”.

The customer is not always right, and while it may seem counterintuitive, the harsh reality is that in B2B, saying “yes” to every customer request does not increase loyalty; it actually sets you up for massive failure. All relationships need boundaries, and training agents in how and when to say “no” will help define and control the relationship. These boundaries help form a level of mutual respect over time, creating a loyal following.

Building a loyal customer base through B2B customer support training is rooted in honest communication and reduced customer effort. Technology is crucial to creating an understanding with customers and eliminating pesky information requests that jeopardize relationships. The combination of technology and honest communication creates trust and respect with your customer which, over time, leads to long-term loyalty, increased retention rates, opportunities for expansion and future benchmarking activities.

Joseph P. Harris