With the competitive nature of the marketplace, channel providers should take every opportunity to provide exemplary customer service for and on behalf of our clients. Not just because it’s good business, but because it’s increasingly expected. According to a survey by Microsoft, 54% of customers have higher expectations for customer service today than they did just a year ago*.
The process of providing customer service has evolved significantly with the emergence of multinational, web-based companies. Not every support issue requires direct interaction. Therefore, support channels such as social media, email, support ticket systems, telephone calls, and app/desktop web chat, are great tools for channel partner engagement. This enables the customer to address their needs using the method that is most convenient and cost-effective to them.
The goal is to ensure that the issue is resolved satisfactorily, and that the customer leaves the experience with a positive impression of the brand. A survey by Zendesk found that 52% of customers say they have made an additional purchase from a company after a positive customer service experience*.
It all starts with trust
Establishing and cultivating a trusting relationship with our channel clients is the foundation of customer service. We are essentially partnering up and combining our expertise, to mirror our client’s channel strategy to their partners. By putting the needs of our clients first, we create a culture of service excellence, which filters down to their partners. As a channel provider, we then express the brand and values of the company we represent.
The right team
A support team built around a strong focus on good customer service sets us apart from our competitors. The members of this team will be communicating directly with partners; therefore, be sure to select representatives with good online interpersonal skills and a desire to please. It’s not just about meeting service-level metrics, but about going the extra mile to connect with partners in a meaningful and personable way.
The channel partner experience
Partners need to feel reassured that their concerns or issues matter and will be remedied as quickly and easily as possible. If our support teams demonstrate attentiveness to issues and queries, our partners are more likely to forgive delays due to unforeseen circumstances. An important aspect of managing partner expectations is strategically sending holding messages for reassurance. Prioritizing urgent escalations—such as payment delays—to resolve swiftly will further uphold the company brand and reputation. Promptly paid partners are a key indicator that we are providing the best possible channel solution for our clients.
Customer surveys are a great way to find areas for improvement. Channel providers should regularly ask clients about their customer experience and then adjust processes and/or policies as possible based on the feedback. As the level of trust between a channel provider and a client grows, so does the likelihood of future business.
Have you anted up?
In an age where good customer service is table stakes, make sure you have anted up. Take a close look at your people, processes and technology and determine if you are doing everything you can to build strong, loyal channel partner relationships. In the end, it all adds up in the bottom line.