Digital customer support creates completely new opportunities for the German mechanical and plant engineering industry. Especially during the Corona pandemic, the so-called remote service gained more and more importance due to the numerous travel restrictions. But not only in times of the pandemic, but also in the future, companies should rely on a consistent digitalisation of customer support in order to meet customer expectations. Because they expect not only a good quality solution to their problems remotely, but also a quick one. Many have already recognised this necessity and integrated software solutions into their support processes.
The right implementation is a particular challenge. If the introduction is not planned properly and the business model is not worked out, even the best software will not bring you any long-term benefits. We therefore give you 7 valuable tips on how to implement digital customer support into your business processes step by step and set it up for success in the long term.
1. Define your organisational requirements
The introduction of new software represents a change in the company. In order to optimally manage this change process, and not only to achieve acceptance of the new software, but also to bring about a fundamental change in the corporate culture, a number of aspects should be taken into account when introducing new software. If the introduction is successful, not only will service processes and quality improve; at the same time, the use of innovative software is also an indicator of how future-oriented a company is.
Therefore, it is important to consider the following aspects already in the first step:
- Carry out an inventory of your customer support
A prerequisite for determining the requirements is a thorough inventory of the business processes concerned and the framework conditions, because only known and well-matched business processes can be optimally supported by software. After all, the software should fit you – and not the other way around. For this purpose, it is most important to define the support levels and escalation levels for digital customer support.
- Appoint a product or project manager
Within your organisation you need a product or project owner who is responsible for the selection, implementation and use of the new digital solution. This person is an essential interface between the decision-makers in the company, the employees and customers involved and the software provider. As a product owner, the employee should take on as few tasks as possible from day-to-day business and enjoy the support of management.
- Appoint a product or Set up a helpdesk team
With customer support software providing excellent remote support, the importance of helpdesk staff increases. The office staff must be able to react quickly to customers’ requests and deliver the support they need remotely. So plan for sufficient inside staff before offering digital customer support. One option could be to detach selected field staff to the office staff.
- Determine the hardware requirements
Before you decide on the software for your customer support, you should determine which hardware your service staff and customers will use to communicate with each other. Not all software can be used across all devices. Therefore, it is important to clarify your needs in advance. Whether desktop PC, tablet, smartphone or even smart glasses – each of the devices is suitable for communicating with customers remotely. While your service staff in the office prefer to work on a desktop PC to transmit instructions, customers on site use a tablet or even smartphone that they can always carry in their pocket.
In cases where working with free hands is particularly advantageous, the use of smart glasses should be considered. This is especially advisable when there is little expert knowledge on site. It will make repair work during a service call immensely easier, as your customers will still have both hands free to carry out the necessary work on the machine or plant.
2. Ask for the interest of the customers
The needs of the customers are at the forefront of every optimisation in customer support. Their wishes should be fulfilled in the best possible way to achieve their satisfaction. So before you invest in a new solution, first conduct a survey of selected customers to find out what their requirements are for your support and thus for a software. The goal should be to work together across the board to provide services that deliver long-term value to your customers. Discuss exactly this added value.
For your customers, this lies in particular in the rapid problem solving, which reduces downtimes and allows production to continue smoothly. Costs for idle equipment will thus be reduced to a minimum in the future. With the help of a demo, you can practically present the possible service to your customers, whose requirements you have worked out in the first step. This will give them a better feel for the new technology.
Also clarify your customers’ willingness to pay. An investment in a new customer support solution is only worthwhile if your customers follow suit. However, for a first-class service with added value, your customers will be willing to invest more in your service.
3. Select the appropriate software
Once the requirements for your customer support have been worked out internally as well as confirmed externally by a selection of customers, you can make the decision on the appropriate software. It is important that the solution supports the end devices you want to offer and provides the range of functions you need to offer the desired customer support and meet the needs of your customers. Successful customer support software does not rely on a single means of communication, but rather bundles the entire service communication on one platform and maps your business processes.
4. Test your concept with pilot clients
Once you have determined your goals and requirements and found a suitable software for your customer support, you can move on to the pilot phase with the customer support you have worked out so far. In this phase, you can test your developed strategy on selected customers. The customers involved must represent all variants of the future users and should have the competence to really test the solution, to run through process flows and application scenarios and to give relevant feedback. Before a rollout, you can thus check whether your concept may still have weak points that absolutely have to be optimised before the final introduction. Incremental adjustments can already help to avoid mistakes. Your selected pilot customers are ideally open to digital solutions and have a concrete need for support services.
5. Develop your business model after successful piloting
Define service. It also outlines how you can add value for your customers and establish a corresponding billing model to generate new service revenues. Especially in customer support, the latter is an important aspect that is often forgotten. With your customer support, you not only have to deliver added value for your customers; besides the spare parts business, customer support as a high-quality consulting service can make an enormous contribution to your service revenue. Digital customer support in particular is very high-margin, as there are no direct costs involved and customer support is highly scalable.
6. Hand over your elaborated concept to your sales department
In the last step, you have to hand over your final concept to your sales department in order to push the placement of the solution with your customers. This includes training the respective sales staff, providing meaningful sales materials (e.g. brochures, presentation or even a section on the website) as well as providing demo equipment to demonstrate to customers. With the help of the documents and the demo, the sales department can then target existing customers as well as flank the sale of new installations with the additional digital service.
Also, help your sales team to segment your customers correctly, because not every customer is open to digital solutions from day one. When prioritising, cultural differences are particularly important for the customer approach. For example, while customers in the USA are usually open to digital products and positively disposed towards the change, customers in France tend to be reserved. Segmenting and pre-selecting customers is therefore crucial for further success in establishing your digital customer support.
The last step is to roll out the solution to your customers. As with physical products, this does not happen overnight, but requires patience and continuity.
Once the first customers have been “on-boarded”, the concept must not be rested on. Even after the introduction, the service must be continuously optimised. To this end, the person responsible for the product or project should regularly gather feedback from internal users and customers and implement corresponding requirements in cooperation with the solution provider.
Sales documents and pricing models should also be regularly scrutinised so that they are continuously optimally adapted to the requirements in the market and the customer groups. Only in this way can continuous growth be made possible.
If you approach the introduction with our 7 tips in mind, the work will pay off after the rollout. Professional software providers support this onboarding and change process when introducing new software and set up an individual onboarding process with a roadmap for each customer so that a successful go-live can take place.
We at RISE also accompany our clients in this process in a goal-oriented manner.
We would be happy to advise you in a personal appointment