Improving Customer Service Productivity: Strategies You Need to Know in 2023

As businesses grow, there may be better approaches than solutions in Customer Service that worked a year ago. There are processes associated with everything your organisation does, both externally and internally. Which ones should be improved now? Which ones are most crucial to your customers and your productivity? Would improving one particular process help your organisation directly reach its current B2B customer experience objectives? Or perhaps improving a CSRs back-office process that’s used daily would be more impactful than one used less frequently?

Understanding how to navigate the common pitfalls associated with the challenges in today’s market is essential if your Customer Service team is to continue to grow and thrive. But, equally important, you need to ensure that the steps you take today to improve Customer Service processes don’t themselves create additional problems for the future. McKinsey research finds that the top 20 percent of companies earn up to 95 percent of economic profit, and “any organisation that isn’t seeking new approaches is on borrowed time.”

So, what can your Customer Service team do to tackle two potential problems early and improve productivity?

Improve customer visibility

No one will tell you quicker than a customer when something isn’t going wellSuppose you don’t have an e-commerce presence or allow B2B customers to easily place and track orders directly from your website or their procurement application. In that case, you have fewer open lines of communication with your customer, and they likely will express their frustration. Regardless of how your customers want to order, they should have the ability in one interface, irrespective of reception channel or format (email, EDI, e-commerce portal or mobile ordering), to submit and track their order, claim and access their invoice. 

Human connection is and always will be the central part of a strong B2B customer experience, but knowing when to provide self-service tools can help strike that perfect balance between a personal connection and the proactive, lightning-fast response times expected of businesses today. For example, B2B customers want to access updates on their orders in their own time, but they also want you to field an inbound inquiry quickly and then communicate what to expect and by what date if there’s a delay. If B2B self-service tools are not available for your customers, add them to the list for 2023.

Automate customer communication when it makes sense

Supply chains are complex, whether they’re global or local, and the Customer Service teams servicing them have had to innovate. Many companies who now (post-pandemic) offer new options to their customers, have moved up the ranks in their markets. Companies that weren’t paying attention to customer experience before the pandemic quickly learned that similar levels of communication traditionally found in B2C customer engagement, have become expected from B2B customers.

Supply chains play a massive role in customer satisfaction as it impacts the things that matter to customers: availability, price and delivery times. However, when supply chain elements are out of Customer Services’ control, it may seem there’s not much you can do. Proactive communication makes all the difference. Even something as simple as automating Order Confirmations – when customers send in their PO, getting an email to confirm that the order was processed, has become standard. It lets them know that everything went through and gives you a chance to thank them and provide additional information about what to expect next. Or automating Shipping Delay notices – has the customer’s shipment been delayed, either in leaving your warehouse or by the carrier? Customers are typically going to be much happier to find out this information directly from you, as opposed to wondering where their order is. A quick, automated update prevents them from needing to hunt down the information, improving their experience and keeping the support team from drowning in calls about shipping updates. 

Automation and self-service tools improve productivity. If a Customer Service Manager doesn’t need to have someone take 10 minutes to manually dig for updates, send an email to a customer or field as many inbound inquiries, at a minimum, it provides a means for Customer Service to work on higher value tasks that improve effectiveness and cycle times. Additionally, if you can remain headcount neutral while business continues to grow, that’s going to keep operating expenses down while still scaling up your business. 

On the customer side, the buyers are going to have greater speed and transparency, which increases repeat business. Ultimately, that experience improves revenue and customer retention through ease of doing business or frictionless transactions. Contact us to learn more!

-Written by,Diana Eagen