TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

3 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Customer Data to Improve Customer Service in 2019

Does your company make good use of the data its gathers from customer interactions? Here are three tips to make the most of that data.

Everywhere we look, more decisions are being influenced by data. Making decisions "on a hunch" is a thing of the past and trying to solve a problem without any sort of metrics doesn't quite feel right. We've become accustomed to leveraging some form of data to justify even the simplest decisions.

For Further Reading:

AI Techniques You Need to Know

ABCs of Evaluating Your Advanced Analytics Initiative

5 Smart Ways to Leverage B2B Customer Support Data

It's still amazing how many companies fail to truly make good use of data in the customer service industry. A common reason is that service interactions – from live chat to phone calls and everything in between – happen too quickly for companies to make data-driven, informed decisions. Sure, sometimes agents need to think on the fly, but the reality is these situations are becoming less common with so many business-to-business (B2B) customer interactions now happening online. It's time to change this mindset and start utilizing data to improve customer service in 2019. Here are three ways to get started.

Understand the True Meaning by Scoring Customer Sentiment

We've all been online enough to come across a "wall of text." Maybe it was on a forum or in an email message, but you look at it and the last thing you want to do is spend 20 minutes reading every word. Now, imagine that it's your job to read everything, make sense of what's said, and form a coherent response in a timely fashion. That's what a customer service agent does every single day. It's a thankless job, but with technology it can be a lot easier.

Instead of tasking an agent to read everything and report back with how the customer felt, some service software solutions now offer sentiment analysis. This is essentially AI that reads entire messages for you and deciphers the tone of the message in a handful of words such as satisfied, excited, sad, or frustrated. It can be a huge time saver to open a 2,000-word message and see that the sentiment is excited and polite because the agent will know right away that there likely isn't a need to escalate the message. Even better, in B2B these sentiments all transfer over to the company level. This means if several contacts that work together feel frustrated, you'll be able to gauge if the entire company feels frustrated.

Evaluate Trends in Customer Service Channel Usage

We mentioned earlier that more customer service interactions are happening online, which makes sense because more communication, both personally and professionally, is happening via digital channels. How can B2B companies compile information about channel usage? The key is to dig into extensive reporting in your customer service software solutions. Evaluate not only easy metrics such as how many customer conversations happen on each channel, but also which channel the issues are resolved on and how many different channels were required during the process.

Don't forget to monitor the usage of emerging channels such as self-service. By viewing these digital analytics, you'll see which pages are most visited and how effective they are. If a page has a lot of visits and a high exit rate, it means your customers are likely getting the information they need from here to resolve their own issue. If the exit rate is low and they continue to look for information, it means the page isn't very helpful. Keeping a close eye on channel usage is a great way to improve customer service.

Leverage Data to Quantify "Customer Health"

In the same way sentiment can be viewed at the customer level, there are many additional factors that can contribute to quantifying the well-being of every B2B customer relationship you have. From average ticket response time to SLA violations to contract status, all these factors and more are now being leveraged to create one "customer health" metric. Essentially this is a way to easily quantify how strong your relationship is with every customer you have.

Customer service software allows for certain metrics, such as the average number of monthly tickets, to be weighted as needed for your industry so the score is as accurate as possible. These scores are not foolproof, but they provide your company with a quick and easy way to spot at-risk customers and take corrective measures early on to ensure they don't leave your business. This type of targeted proactive customer service is now essential to maintaining successful customer relationships.

A Final Word

B2B companies can use customer data to improve customer service in multiple ways and should strive to utilize data to not only keep customers happy but also to save themselves time and money. Implementing sentiment analysis within written service inquiries is an excellent way to reduce costs and increase the responsiveness of the customer service team. Actively monitoring which channels customers are using provides highly actionable data to stay in front of their needs and make wise technology investments.

Keeping a close eye on customer health will always ensure you are tracking the pulse of every customer relationship so you can act quickly when problems arise. The right data points can be critical to a customer service team, enabling everyone involved to work less on assumptions and more on real facts.

About the Author

Robert C. Johnson is the CEO of TeamSupport. In his career, Johnson has founded, invested in, and sold startups, has extensive board experience and has been helping B2B companies give better customer service for 10 years. You can reach the author on Twitter or LinkedIn.


TDWI Membership

Accelerate Your Projects,
and Your Career

TDWI Members have access to exclusive research reports, publications, communities and training.

Individual, Student, & Team memberships available.