B2B solutions providers such as ourselves are always concerned with sustaining relationships with existing clients.
Why? The B2B market is competitive and the customer is in control.
The B2B market is quite simple to understand; customers are willing to pay for value. But, gaining new business in a market where a majority of customers correlate value with price only can be a nightmare; especially to B2B companies that cannot afford to compete based on the lowest price.
On the other (and much smaller) hand; informed and serious clients seek strategic partners to enable their growth; this means they seek partners that provide a consistently high standard of quality of service in a logical timeframe and at a reasonable price.
Competing with thousands of B2B providers for tens of worthy projects will require more than your ability to satisfy your customers via a good product or service.
Customer satisfaction is the lowest rung on the ladder of customer service. You passed but you got a D+. Hardly impressive.
So how can you put yourself in a position to leave a lasting impression? To eventually earn your customers’ trust and a testimonial that boosts your credibility as a reliable provider of effective B2B solutions?
3 Words: Customer Service Excellence
When we say the word “excellence” it refers to the existence of certain differences that are unique to one another. The concept of distinguished services refers to the provision of services or solutions in excess of the expectations of the client.
It is common knowledge that good customer service should include – but not limited to- some features like knowing your product or solution very well, being friendly, saying “Thank You”, training your staff, showing respect, listening to your customers’ feedback and being responsive.
When we say the word “excellence” in providing service or a solution it should refer to three major aspects:
1. Redefining Value
The services and solutions you provide should logically have a market and need for them. But, is that enough?
As aforementioned; gaining the trust and loyalty of clients’ depends on various factors that clients perceive as overall value.
To a client, the value is all about convenience. Do you provide a service or solution that:
- Will enable the client to overcome challenges without the need for a steep learning curve?
- Deliver a ready solution for their issues?
- Is priced reasonably?
- Is supported by consistently dependable after sale services?
To deliver value to a client; you must always demonstrate how your services are in their best interests.
Understanding their business sector, industry trends, current and possible future needs will enable you to consistently enhance your services (and products) in a manner that is aligned with your client’s business growth objectives.
Such commitment to a client’s business needs and growth will not only influence the effectiveness of your product/service development, but it will also earn you the wow factor and their trust over your competition in the market.
Ensuring that your product/service development is more deliberate and personalized means that you are redefining the perception of value.
2. Personalized Interaction
In addition to the convenience factors outlined above; there are other variables that impact your existing clients’ determination of value when considering your performance so far.
How they judge your performance is based on each client’s own principles which are determined by socio-cultural variables and their level of education.
For example, the client's understanding of the document lifecycle and the procedures for obtaining the service or solution, as well as the fees to be paid in exchange for the service is largely related to the above variables.
Thus, any business that wishes to attain high levels of customer service excellence must take these variables cultural, social and educational seriously. Observing, learning and adapting to those variables will enable you to personalize your services, communication and even value to a diverse range of clients.
This personalization means that you can leave a positively impactful impression and build stronger bonds from the first meeting laying a solid foundation for a relationship built on credibility and trust.
3. Impactful Impressions
My extensive and international experience in IT projects management has afforded me the privilege of being involved in interactions with prospect clients that range from multinational corporations to SMEs.
I noticed that they shared one key thing when they formed their first impressions regarding a potential service or solution provider: Do these people care enough about our business?
If the relevant team members were not present during the initial meeting they frequently voiced their concerns that perhaps the service provider is not serious enough to include team members who would better understand their various needs.
At Vardot; we ensure that all key relevant personnel are interacting directly with the client during first meetings to gain a 360 degree understanding and appreciation of what is required for the project to succeed.
For example; don’t meet a potential client that wishes to build an e-commerce platform without a UX and Customer Journey specialist attending the meeting.
Socio-cultural variables impact such first impressions as well. Always make sure that your best-qualified people (i.e.) experts, academically and scientifically qualified; are at the forefront in such meetings. This demonstrates to the potential client that you take their needs seriously and qualified enough to handle them.
Attaining customer service excellence is an obvious, clear and tired topic that plenty of people and HR training specialists have lectured about.
Everyone recognizes the importance of sustaining a high standard of service to the success of their enterprise yet rarely do they hold themselves to such standards.
It’s never-ending hard work. But all worthy endeavours are.
How did your previous and existing clients perceive your value? Are you worthy of their repeat business? You may be… but you can always be better.
Valuable partners are winners. Winners are always better.
- Project Management
- Consumer Behavior
- Customer Service