Last updated: Customer service requirements: Why platform matters

Customer service requirements: Why platform matters

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The days when a B2B company could focus simply on product are over. Back then, customer service was often viewed as an unavoidable cost center, bolted on at the end of the sales cycle.

Today, customers expect much more, and companies that fall short of modern customer service requirements won’t be around for long.

“Businesses need to elevate the role of customer service to a strategic function that boosts revenue, brand reputation, and customer loyalty,” researchers wrote in an Harvard Business Review Analytic Services study.

Let’s look at the new customer service requirements and how software has evolved to help businesses keep up.

Man straightening tie, with abstract images behind him, representing a 2023 report on customer service by Harvard Business Review and SAP.

B2B customer service requirements

B2B customer service is inherently more complex than B2C customer service. Compared to an individual consumer calling for help, B2B customers are multiple people and teams from across an organization. Their issues are more technical, and the stakes can be high. If there’s downtime, their business suffers.

In our increasingly digital environment, these B2B customers — who now are often digital natives — expect the same kind of fast, convenient experiences they have in the consumer world. Given the rapid pace of innovation, living up to their expectations can be challenging.

78% of executives surveyed by Harvard Business Review Analytics Services said customer expectations had changed in the past couple years, in some cases significantly. But only two-thirds said they’ve made service changes to keep up.

Not only are businesses under pressure to deliver frictionless support, they also need to go beyond a reactive mode of fixing problems to a proactive one that enables customers to get the most value from their purchase.

“In addition to focusing on efficiency and speed, the service function will increasingly be accountable for outcomes that are much more closely tied with revenue, customer satisfaction, and account health,” researchers said.

Beyond buzzwords: Customer service agility

In addition to growing customer service requirements, macroeconomic conditions are putting service leaders to the test. Ongoing inflation, recession fears, and global unrest have driven up demand for service.

In such volatile times when it’s hard to predict what will happen next, agility is essential. Much more than a marketing trend, agility is about speed and efficiency — and being able to react quickly when things change.

Coping and thriving in the era of constant change requires a lot from service reps, but also from technology. Customer service solutions are evolving to give businesses the agility to manage high contact volumes and keep customers satisfied.

Customer service platforms support new requirements

Modern cloud platforms provide B2B companies with the agility to keep up with whatever happens next. They provide the speed, performance and scalability that help keep customer service performing at its best.

Here’s how they do it:
  1. Hosted on hyperscalers
  2. Built on microservices
  3. Connected by nature

Since they’re hosted on hyperscalers — big cloud players like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft — modern service platforms provide global reach, high availability, high performance, and fast time to value. Businesses can easily adjust and expand their service offerings as requirements change.

This way, businesses have maximum flexibility to support workload spikes and business growth. They don’t have to invest in on-prem equipment and can make changes rapidly.

Modern cloud service platforms also take advantage of microservices to enable businesses to move fast and innovate quickly. Microservices allow companies to customize solutions and adapt them as requirements change. They can rapidly innovate, at scale, using low code/no code models.

In order to be effective, B2B customer service must be connected to the rest of the organization. Service agents need access to the same information that members of other teams like sales have, and have easy ways to collaborate on resolutions and proactive service.

Advanced solutions support this by creating unified data models, enabling a 360-degree view of the customer, and connecting front office functions to back office operations. For example, a service rep would easily be able to see inventory or delivery status in order to give customers the most updated and accurate information.

Transforming B2B customer service

Tech-enabled transformation represented tremendous productivity and efficiency opportunities, according to a McKinsey & Company report. Likewise, leveraging technology to transform a customer service organization can help a business drive loyalty for sustainable growth.

However, enterprises must take a comprehensive approach in order to succeed.

“The initiative works only if technology solutions are woven into the fabric of  the organization and processes, integrating with the way the company functions,” wrote McKinsey & Company.

96% of consumers have more trust in brands when they make it easy to do business with them.
Are you delivering what customers want? Get ‘The State of Customer Service’ report HERE.

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