By Dave Maffei
No matter what the industry, delivering seamless customer service is one of the most important and impactful assets for business expansion and success. Customer satisfaction leads to loyalty and referrals — both of which lead to financial success. For channel partners, customer service is a key consideration. Customers look to their channel partners to provide customer care that is fast and effective.
Here are some critical elements to consider when providing customer service as a channel partner.
Know your audience so you can give appropriate feedback . It’s important that you know the knowledge level of your customer. Determine if you are speaking with a technology novice or a professional so you can tailor your approach. A small business owner of a non-technology-focused company may be comfortable with your explanation that their data is “backed up off-site to protect against disaster,” but a SysAdmin at another client may have a deeper understanding of technology workings and ask questions that go beyond the surface. These customers may want to know details about how you are employing deduplication, which public cloud their data is stored on and whether or not the solution provides bare metal restore. Take the time to understand the specific knowledge level of the customer you are speaking with, in order to ensure that you aren’t talking down to a technologist or speaking over a layman’s head.
Match the support method to the type of solution you are providing. While it is important to have various methods for offering support — phone calls, social media messages, ticketing systems, email and Web chat — it’s even more important to make sure you are meeting the customer’s need with the appropriate method. When the customer flags an issue to you, it may be through the method that was most convenient and efficient to them. Take into consideration that your response may need to come via a different support method — depending on the customers’ situation. For example, an email may suffice for resending the steps required for connecting to the VPN, but if a customer is experiencing a more complex error, taking the time to speak via the phone and explain the solution step-by-step, in real time, will guarantee a more efficient and successful customer experience.
Check in with the customer regularly. Get ahead of issues by developing a regular cadence of communication with your customers. If you put in place a system of checking in and documenting feedback upon receipt, you can anticipate issues and problem solve before something happens. What’s more, building this relationship with your customers will position you as an expert and authority on their IT infrastructure. This can lead to increased business as the customer will be more likely to engage you for additional services and solutions and also more likely to recommend your partnership to other customers.
Dave Maffei is vice president of global channel sales for Carbonite, which provides online backup and recovery solutions. He is in charge of the direct and channel sales teams, managing a team of more than 20 Carbonite sales professionals and driving double-digit direct and triple-digit channel growth for the company’s SMB-focused division.
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