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Guest Blog: Why cross-team collaboration is essential for B2B customer support teams

This week we feature an article by Robert C. Johnson who writes about the importance of cross-team collaboration when providing B2B customer support.  Simply put, B2B support is significantly different than B2C support. A stand-alone customer support group can’t handle 100% of the issues they receive in the B2B industry. These issues are usually more […]

This week we feature an article by Robert C. Johnson who writes about the importance of cross-team collaboration when providing B2B customer support. 

Simply put, B2B support is significantly different than B2C support. A stand-alone customer support group can’t handle 100% of the issues they receive in the B2B industry. These issues are usually more complex, involving several internal stakeholders and requiring a larger, more advanced and specialized team to address them.

Forming this team is a unique process for each business, and making the right decisions on who to include is vital for working together efficiently. With more B2B companies choosing support software technology as their “hub” for all customer communication, it’s important to determine what departments need access and why.

Here are a few of the more common departments outside of support that can assist in resolving customer issues or can obtain immediate value from customer conversations:

  • Product Management – This team can not only inform agents of upcoming features and functionality in private (internal) ticket actions directly within the software, but they can use customer information for planning purposes. By monitoring the frequency of feature requests and bug report tickets, it lets them create a realistic product roadmap for meeting customer demands.
  • Customer Success / Account Management – Outside of support, this team interacts with customers the most frequently. Because of this ongoing dialogue, it’s important they know what issues a customer is having so they can be prepared for their next “check-in” call. If they see a customer is having problems with chat conversations, they can provide training on their next call around configuring the chat technology to ensure its meeting their needs.
  • Product Creation and Development – Too often in the B2B software world when a support agent doesn’t know the answer to a question, they pass it on to a developer who attempts to respond with limited information. As a result of this process, many companies have decided to provide development team members with licenses to support software. By having access to this technology, they can better understand the customer issue and thus provide a better fix.

It’s also not uncommon for other departments such as Sales, Onboarding, and Marketing to have access to support software as well. However, in many cases providing all these team members with licenses to the software is just the first step in achieving cross-team collaboration.

Remove silos between teams and encourage cross-team collaboration

We’ve outlined the departments that work together, but how exactly do companies achieve cross-team collaboration? Most B2B companies have an “old school” mentality related to how they work and who they work with internally. The key is to leverage technology to break down these dated silos. Integrating B2B customer support software with other internal systems is one way to encourage the real-time sharing of information between departments. Teams should integrate support software with development tools, sales tools including CRM technology, and marketing communication tools. Establishing these integrations means departments can easily share relevant information about customers with minimal effort, reducing duplicate and outdated information across all systems.

For example, if sales updates information about a customer contact in a CRM system, that information will be pushed to the support software so both teams have the most relevant data. Walk in your customer’s shoes for a moment. Pretend your main contact at a key customer just got a promotion. They told your VP of Sales who updated their contact info in the CRM and its fed elsewhere via integrations. Now, watch as the “congratulations” messages come flying in from multiple colleagues in different departments over the next couple weeks! This is just one way businesses are taking a smarter, data-driven approach to support information to keep customers happy.

Support teams also need to feel empowered to share key information they’ve learned with colleagues throughout the entire company such as product, sales, IT and marketing. One way to do this is by creating content on an internal collaboration solution. Some customer support software solutions have these built in, while other options can include an internal Wiki, blog, or Slack channel. While automated data integrations are great, it’s tough to replace the great ideas that happen in these company-wide conversations.

Managing tickets as a unified support team

There are several different ways to obtain actionable information from other departments. The next step is being able to take this information and apply it in an efficient manner to everyday support interactions. Doing this successfully will not only empower your support team to make better decisions, but it will also fuel more cross-team collaboration.

Colleagues want to know that the cross-team information they are providing the support team isn’t being ignored. Encourage the support team to take the information they’ve learned about a customer and log it in support software to show they’re using shared information. For example, if an onboarding specialist tells a support agent that a new customer has “half-day Fridays” during the summer, they can create a notification that pops up for any software user when they view the company profile. This way, if an agent in a different country is working on a time-sensitive ticket, they’ll know to prioritize it and get a response back before everyone leaves the office. This information can also benefit other departments. If a sales manager is looking to upsell the customer on a new feature, they’ll click on the company profile and know immediately that Friday probably isn’t a good day for a meeting.

Cross-team collaboration is essential for B2B support teams because it makes a big difference for the entire company. Everyone within a company has the same goal; to keep a customer happy and ensure they stick around. Companies that don’t lose sight of this and leverage technology and conversation to reach it will only put themselves in a position for continued success.

Robert C. Johnson is the co-founder and CEO of TeamSupport.com, a cloud-based, B2B software application built to help customer-facing support teams serve clients better through stronger collaboration, superior teamwork, and faster issue resolution. A seasoned executive and entrepreneur who has founded and invested in numerous software and high-tech companies, Robert’s industry experience as a business leader and a customer inspired him to create TeamSupport to give Support Desk teams the tools and best practices to enhance customer loyalty and positively impact product sales.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.Guest Blog: Why cross-team collaboration is essential for B2B customer support teams

Read Shep’s latest Forbes article: Convenience Meets Community: Kroger Rolls Into Neighborhood With Mobile Grocery Stores

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