It’s no secret –– customer experience is becoming the key differentiator when customers choose their vendors. In fact, 80% of B2B business purchases are impacted by a client’s customer experience, with just 20% of B2B buying decisions related to price or product.
This means that customer service teams carry a significant responsibility to attract customers, retain them, and drive business revenue. But the secret to an excellent customer service experience lies in managing customers’ expectations. If a team fails to meet a client’s standard, the client will likely churn, taking valuable recurring revenue with them. And in a post-digital transformation landscape, expectations have never been higher: More than 65% of people have higher expectations for customer service today than they did three to five years ago. Notably, it’s important to stress that this responsibility to meet high standards also falls on internal IT teams to keep employee experience positive and retention high.
Fortunately, there are a few ways that a support team can simultaneously deliver excellent service while also managing client expectations. This blog will go over a few strategies to help support teams satisfy customers, manage expectations, and leverage a client portal to create a results-driven service environment.
Establish Clear SLAs
Before a client-provider relationship begins, it’s imperative to clearly lay out what the future will look like. Most often, this takes the form of an SLA.
SLAs are Service-Level Agreements, and they act as a guiding light to your service delivery. They outline responsibilities, determine availability, and define everything a client and provider can expect from each other.
SLAs are critical in customer service because they set the expectation from the start of the relationship. The SLA is something your customers can depend on to understand what to expect, but it’s also useful for your IT and support team to reference to ensure they meet the standard of service originally promised.
Track KPIs and Customer Satisfaction
For optimal results, your service team should set KPIs to measure how well they are meeting customer expectations. It’s helpful to track the standards you’ve placed in your SLAs to manage performance and prove your value.
So what sort of KPIs should your customer service teams track? There are plenty of metrics to monitor, but some of the most helpful include:
- FCR (First Contact Resolution)
- TTR (Time to Resolution)
- NPS (Net Promoter Score)
- CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Rate)
- Average Reply Time
- Escalation Rate
- Agent Touches Per Ticket
Tracking these numbers helps your team understand their capacity and success rate, where service delivery can improve, and where execution and goals align. Over time, your service team can reference their current KPIs and historical performance to inform how they manage expectations for customers.
Conversely, if KPIs aren’t met, and customers report low satisfaction rates, your team knows to change their approach to better match the standard.
Communicate Quickly and Effectively
One of the best ways to manage customer expectations is through clear, quick communication. Consider the following scenarios that might occur to delay or complicate ticket resolutions:
- A complex service request comes through, requiring more tech time to solve.
- A specific request must be escalated or passed to a team member with a higher level of expertise.
- The customer service team is experiencing an atypical high volume of service requests.
- Tech capacity is low as several team members are out-of-office, or there is a need for new hires to backfill demand.
- The team is collectively jumping on a high-priority fire, and therefore, general ticket resolutions are taking longer than usual.
Client Portals Streamline Customer Expectation Components
In all of these situations, a customer should be kept apprised of their request status and reassured that their case will be resolved as soon as possible. Additionally, it falls on the service team to stay proactive rather than reactive when communicating with clients.
A client portal helps a service team reach their customers in a punctual, proactive manner. The best customer portal solutions will offer a variety of communication channels. Here are some things to look for:
- Easy Service Request Submission: Look for a solution that enables frictionless form submission for clients.
- Live Chat: A live chat function makes it easy for customers to communicate immediately with your team, particularly if they have simple questions.
- Automatic Status Updates: Some client portal software solutions allow techs to trigger automatic status updates on their service requests.
Deliver Faster, More Predictable Resolution Times with IT Automation
IT automation is a gift that keeps on giving for your service teams and customers alike. A Client portal that utilizes IT automation empowers service teams to build complex workflows that trigger when tickets are submitted. In addition, teams can automate approvals, send automatic updates, and triage the highest-priority tickets.
Clearly, automation can help improve your service desk performance. However, it also can help create a more predictable, repeatable standard of ticket resolution. This predictability means that techs can communicate and manage client service expectations more easily.
Create a Customer Knowledge Base For Self-Service
Finally, there are instances when the service team can best support customers by empowering them to solve their own problems. The best way to do this is to create an accessible knowledge base within the client portal.
An effective knowledge base would include extensive documentation, helpful explanations for straightforward product and service questions, and even self-service videos. This resource library can improve customer satisfaction by clarifying expectations, reducing the need for service tickets, and fostering a sense of independence.
Helpful Hint: Keep SLAs, service terms, and FAQs within your customer resource library so your clients have access to documented specifications of what they can expect from the service team.
Client portal software helps your service team manage expectations and improve customer experience. To see the difference a client portal can make for your customer service, try DeskDirector for free.