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B2B Customer Service: The 15 Key Success Factors for Achieving Operational Excellence

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Customer service issues remain among the most difficult issues to manage. It is complex, requires consideration of multiple channels of interaction and often unpredictable customer demands, with ever-changing uses.

One would think that in the B2B world, it is easier to address customer service issues than in the B2C segments, due to the tighter product catalog, smaller customer base, lower order quantities and more restricted geographic areas. This is not the case! The financial stakes are enormous and constantly improve customer satisfaction, whose acquisition cost is high and strategic, which is never an option!

What do companies with their level of maturity and operational excellence do? Christophe Stec, Director of Customer Service at Toshiba Tec in France, trusts the 15 key ways he has identified and implemented in-house that make Toshiba Tec a recognized service expert in the market.

  1. narrow regional network.
    The proximity between the supplier and its customers enhances responsiveness. This is a key point that strongly distinguishes it: compared to companies that prefer a centralized approach, this decentralized model is very effective, in terms of image, relationships, speed of intervention, agility and “customer experience”.
  2. The customer culture is embedded in the company culture.
    Customer service cannot be fully effective if it is separated from other corporate entities. It is a prerequisite, but not sufficient: it is essential that the culture of customer satisfaction be grounded in the corporate culture and encouraged at the highest level.
  3. Quality approach throughout the product life cycle.
    It is easy to imagine the difficulties of designing and operating a customer service if the products in question do not meet the highest standards of quality. Not to mention the loss of motivation for teams on the field… The entire life cycle must be taken into account, from design/manufacture to distribution and recycling.
  4. Equivalent level of service for all clients.
    Whether it is an SME, small and medium business, or large groups, customers expect to be seen the same way. In this field, there are no “small customers” and “big customers”, there are only customers whose priority is to satisfy their needs.
  5. Formal continuous improvement approach.
    If there is one principle that applies to customer service, it is that nothing is ever taken for granted! Therefore, continuous improvement is necessary. This involves, for example, regular and regular measurement of KPIs (average response time, downtime, number of tickets, intervention times, etc.), so as to feed them into a coherent plan of action. In accordance with customer needs.
  6. Adaptive and responsive climbing device.
    Teams on the field cannot know everything and master everything. Once they are confronted with more complex situations, it is essential to act as quickly as the most basic interventions. Therefore, a properly sized climbing device is essential to solve problems quickly and efficiently.
  7. Take advantage of technical data.
    For many technology products, for example multifunctional printers, it is possible to collect technical data in order to perform an initial diagnosis. In addition to increasing efficiency in terms of diagnostic accuracy, this makes it possible to be less intrusive with customers and anticipate the need for spare parts.
  8. Providing the best technologies for technicians in the field.They should already have the right tools to increase productivity, for example tablets, smartphones, high-speed connections, as well as remote access to knowledge bases and customer intervention histories.
  1. optimal time.
    In the field of customer service, there are two ways to improve time: on the one hand, by reducing the response time to customer requests, and on the other hand, by reducing machine downtime. So it is a matter of sizing and logistics. It should be noted that the regional network provides an adequate response to these issues.
  2. Large investments in human capital.
    Experience and skills are constantly maintained. This is all the more important because teams dedicated to customer service must maintain the latest skills to keep track of the evolution of the products they are responsible for. Of course, this includes aligning technical skills, but also mastering them Soft skills (Communication, Complex Problem Solving, Creativity, Team Spirit, Emotional Intelligence, Empathy Skills, etc.) To improve relationships with clients.
  3. Accountability of technical teams.
    Business related to customer service is highly processed and can raise significant concerns, for example during peak periods of activity. If customer service teams have relative autonomy in organizing their work and benefit from regular enrichment of their tasks; This pitfall can be avoided. Stimulates regular staff development and rewards. It is the perfect way to give meaning to the profession. With concrete recognition: its own satisfaction which will be reflected in the customer’s satisfaction.
  4. Systematic analysis of customer and team feedback.
    Complementing continuous improvement based on accurate benchmarking, analysis of feedback from customers and teams in the field allows for a more qualitative approach and highlights items that are difficult to understand, through satisfaction questionnaires, or that can be condensed into indicators/dashboards.
  5. Control over the entire distribution chain.
    In the B2B sector, products are often sold through distribution networks. The latter are also essential links in the customer service chain, due to their proximity. So they must be stakeholders in any strategy in this area.
  6. Anticipate changes in practices.
    Typical customer service approaches are constantly changing, driven by technological innovation and business needs. Modern Customer Service must anticipate trends, particularly in maintenance, with an enthusiasm for remote maintenance and predictive maintenance. It must be remembered that this helps to better plan maintenance interventions and to replenish their stock of spare parts. It is thus able to prevent malfunctions and reduce the incidence of accidents on monitored equipment, by moving from a purely reactive approach to a proactive one.
  7. Align with business usage shifts.
    The current and future characteristics of customer services are modeled on the evolution of business practices. And in the field of information technology, this development is very rapid! This is the case, for example, for managing document and printing flows. Use shifts relate to dematerialization, cybersecurity needs, mixed work environments, smart printing… Lots of shifts that make customer service more and more strategic: Almost all enterprise operations depend on hardware. Dedicated to document flow management, they themselves are highly integrated into the entire information system.

Therefore, the customer service department has no choice but to place operational excellence at the heart of its business, processes and culture. Fortunately, the right ingredients are out there!

By Laurence Nentas, Director of Marketing and Communications, Toshiba TFIS

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