Managing and maintaining a B2B (business-to-business) customer support operation isn’t easy. With customer expectations being higher than ever before and the business world being more complex, it’s not uncommon to receive pressure both internally and externally to provide great customer support. So how can you manage this pressure? The secret is being organized and efficient by making sure the right things get done in the right order. Here are some key steps to effectively prioritize your customer support needs so your operation thrives as the industry evolves.

Step 1 – Implement customer support technology – Simply put, modernizing your customer support operation is a great place to start when it comes to prioritizing your needs. Not only is customer support technology (such as software) the backbone of a support information infrastructure, it also provides your team with a central place to work and solve problems together. Don’t forget to select technology that is able to scale upward as your support operation grows.

Step 2 – Customize and train employees on technology – Too often companies think simply purchasing a new technology will magically result in them providing great customer support. This just isn’t true. It’s important after implementing a technology to optimize it by changing the settings, adding elements of your brand, and utilizing automation as much as possible. Once the technology is configured and in place, take the time to train support agents on how to use it in the most efficient way.

Step 3 – Utilize the technology and encourage innovation – Once agents are trained and feel comfortable with the technology, don’t make them follow a script with their responses. The B2B industry is always changing, so empower your agents to innovate to resolve customer issues better than before. With the help of technology you can also move from being reactive with your support and start being proactive. For example, you can see how many customers are using an old version of your software and encourage them to upgrade to prevent future issues with outdated versions.

Step 4 – Use data to improve customer support – Once you have your support technology up and running with your agents utilizing it effectively, it’s time to dig deeper into optimizing your support operation with data and reporting. Look at key metrics such as ticket types and ticket volumes to determine what solutions should be deployed in the future to increase your level of efficiency. A popular next step is implementing an online self-service solution so your customers can solve simple and common requests on their own time. Self-service is also a great agent asset and when linked with technology it puts content directly at the fingertips of agents so they can resolve customer issues faster.

Step 5 – Enable other departments by adding users and integrations – Prove that customer support isn’t just a cost center. Now that everything is running smoothly and your optimizations are in place, add employees from different departments such as sales and operations. Break down silos and let them see exactly how current customers are interacting with you on a daily basis so they can plan their own strategies more efficiently. For example, a salesperson may check to see the overall satisfaction and number of tickets a current customer has before they attempt an upsell. Integrations with different technology are also important to increase the usage of customer support information and to save time instead of toggling between technology systems. It’s easier than ever to get systems working together and there are numerous integration tools available to assist companies that want to communicate more efficiently.

To summarize, prioritizing your B2B customer support needs starts with a focus on detailed planning and choosing the right technology. From here, training and evolution with this technology is crucial to make the most of your investment. As time goes on, leverage the data you’ve acquired to make improvements to your support operation and share the technology and information with other departments as well. These insights will strengthen communication with both your peers and your customers. It can be easy to want to put the “cart before the horse” sometimes in the business world, but making sure you have your customer support priorities in order will create a successful support operation.