There are several schools of thought when it comes to the most important aspect of business to center. Efficiency, quality, financials, and innovation may come to mind, but there is one aspect that often goes overlooked in the world of B2B Service.

Author Nick Saraev

Photo: Freepik

“If you don’t take care of your customer, your competitor will.” This quote from Bob Hooey is a call to action, a challenge for businesses to make service their priority. Providing world-class service sets you apart and leaves a lasting positive impression. 

However, not every business is set up for a service focus. Many marketing leaders name customer experience management as one of the biggest gaps in their capabilities. It can be challenging to truly change what your team values, but this change could mean the difference between a company thriving long-term and fizzling out in the service revolution. 

Putting Service-First 

A service-first business model is precisely what it sounds like, a strategic approach where a company focuses on delivering exceptional service above all else. Unlike traditional product-orientated models, this model prioritizes understanding and meeting the unique needs of customers to build lasting relationships built on trust, satisfaction, and loyalty. 

Essentially, it’s a shift in mindset. Rather than finding the perfect customer for your product or service, you’re finding the perfect product or service for your customer. This is achieved through high-quality services, personalized solutions, and ongoing support to clients. 

The key components of service-first operations include

  • Customer-Centricity – Placing the customer at the center of business operations and decision-making processes. This involves understanding their specific needs, preferences, and challenges 
  • Value-Added Services – Offering additional services beyond the core product or service to enhance customer satisfaction and differentiate from competitors. These could include training, customization, maintenance, consulting, and ongoing support
  • Relationship Building – Fostering long-term relationships and partnerships with clients by providing consistent and exceptional service
  • Customer Feedback – Your clients know what they want from the customer experience, and they’ll be able to tell you when it’s lacking. Make sure you’re taking their feedback seriously and make it easy for them to tell you what they need 
  • Employee Empowerment – Customer service starts with your employees. Encourage them to take ownership of the customer experience and provide them with the necessary tools, training, and authority to make magic happen. 

By prioritizing service excellence, companies using this model seek to differentiate themselves in the market and build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with their customers.

Benefits of Service-First Business

This shift brings with it a host of benefits, namely customer loyalty and increasing revenue sources. Setting your business goals around customer delight and implementing innovative solutions, such as automation, will turn your business from a random place your customers get products from to an integral part of their ecosystem. 

Dedicated service teams create an intimate relationship with your customers, resulting in a greater level of trust. This boosts brand loyalty, keeping them coming back again and again. It can also lead to organic, word of mouth marketing when they share their positive experiences with colleagues and friends.  

Creating a service-first atmosphere isn’t just good for business; it’s good for morale too. Your employees will feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment when they are connecting with and bettering the lives of clients. The result is motivated, empowered employees who are more able and willing to give customers a great experience. 

Customer Service in the Modern World 

The way we engage with customers is changing. Traditional, in-person sales have dropped 55% in the last three years. With this shift, it’s vital that companies focus on customer experience and how they can deliver excellent service no matter how they connect with clients. 

Here are a few of the top ways you can ensure your customer service is ready to tackle the digital world. 

Understand Your Customer Base

One of the biggest advantages of digitization is the amount of data that can be collected and analyzed from customer interactions. Using surveys, social media listening, and website analytics allows you to paint a full picture of what your clients want and need out of the customer journey. 

Your team should be able to build detailed customer personas to help engage with specific customers where they are and accept feedback to continuously improve. 

By gaining a full understanding of your customers, you and your team can work toward

  • Providing Personalized Experiences
  • Anticipating Needs
  • Effective Communication 
  • Tailored Product and Service Offerings

All of which will improve the overall customer experience and keep clients coming back. 

Think Holistically

It’s important to be ready to think outside the box and beyond tickets when it comes to customer service. Your support team should take into consideration the entire customer life cycle and how it affects the bottom line. 

From initial onboarding to upselling new services, customer service teams should be able to track the entire customer journey and work to reach clients wherever they are. Utilizing the data already collected during onboarding and conversion can help create tailored customer experiences, drive upsells, and retain customers. 

Invest in the Right Technology

If your team doesn’t have the right technology, customer service can quickly become inefficient and disengaging. You may want to invest in 

  • Automation – Taking the manual labor out of repetitive tasks frees up time for your team to invest back in customer relations. 
  • CRM – A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool allows you to have all customer information in one place, so you can easily access and leverage it. Plus, it allows customer service reps to provide a smoother, more personal service. 
  • Chatbots – Automated chatbots can provide answers to FAQs and help customers quickly get assistance with their inquiries.

Remember: as helpful as these digital tools can be, they should only be implemented to support your team in making actual human contact with clients as much as possible. 

For example, chatbots can help people through a quick fix without waiting for a human to talk to, but when it comes to anything more complex, customers are far more likely to want to speak to a living, breathing person.

The Bottom Line

As we move towards more and more digitization, it’s important to keep human relationships at the core of our business operations. Technology should be used to strengthen customer service, not replace it with automated, efficient processes. 

Having a clear understanding of your customer’s needs, a company-wide focus on excellent communication, and adding value to your offerings at every turn will help your team stay above the competition. After all, a satisfied customer is one who will come back again and again. 

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