Customer Interaction: 5 Tips to Thrive in 2021
Head of Content
⏱ Reading Time: 6 minutes
It is not a mystery that customers nowadays are becoming more and more demanding when it comes to the quality of the products and service they receive. They can choose from thousands of different brands in the same niche, so why would they actually choose you?
Brands are well aware that customer interaction, along with customer experience, doesn’t end with the sale and product delivery. Interaction with customers today goes far beyond – it’s an ongoing process, evolving with the rise of customer expectations. Companies should constantly refine and improve how they interact with customers.
Companies that want to become (or keep) the leading position in their niche, should make every customer interaction count. Above delivery of the products or services, customers will stay with companies that follow and surpass their expectations – offering them support, making it easy to get help when they need it, making them empowered with brand values they promote and corporate culture.
Let’s explore why is it important to make every customer interaction amazing and how to get there!
What is Customer Interaction?
Basically, customer interaction is every communication between a customer and a company. In the past, customer interaction was limited to contact between a customer and customer care agent or a customer and salesperson.
Today, customer interaction goes far beyond simple land-line or e-mail. Every platform and channel a company has is an opportunity for interaction with customers. Going from social media to live-chat, e-mail, and public discussions on the forums and review sites.
And, while some of the companies consider this a burden, those who want to stand out from the crowd find these interactions as an opportunity to make the authentic bond with their customers.
Picture 1. Customer Communication Lifecycle
Why Every Customer Interaction is Important?
Try to remember times when you’ve seen a friend or a random person on social media posting something similar to ‘this company hates/doesn’t care about their customers’. Do you actually believe that?
These kinds of complaints are the results of one bad experience. Maybe the customer care agent had a bad day, or the customer was extra pushy? Maybe the social-media manager failed to respond to a message to a loyal customer on Facebook and things escalated quickly?
Often these kinds of experiences are the results of not going the extra mile to find a solution for your customer. These customers are likely to complain about their problem with your company and this too would make an impact on your brand image and customer experience overall.
One of the surveys by American Express found that angry customers are likely to tell 16 people about their bad customer experience. Consider them to be your anti-referrals, who happen to advise their friends, family, and colleagues not to do business with your company.
At the same time, the American Express survey found that happy customers are likely to tell 9 people about their great experience with the company. So, one positive customer interaction could result in 9 new leads! Sounds too good to be true? Let’s explore what you can do to turn every customer interaction into customer advocacy.
What are The Keys to Positive Customer Interaction?
Company’s agents communicating with customers are also people with their good and bad days. That said, there are numerous departments communicating with your customers today – from social – media, marketing team, to sales-people and customer care. While each and every one of them should be informed about your products and service, they should also have basic customer care training.
While those basic instructions are the bare minimum, here are some tips for those who want to know more and who strive to improve customer interactions for better.
1. Customer interaction checklist
Doctors and lawyers use checklists, why wouldn’t you? Customer interaction checklist will help you ensure you’ve ticked all the boxes necessary for positive customer experience, even when you are not operating at your best.
Here is the example of a customer interaction checklist:
- Use their name when talking to your customers
- Tell them your name
- Thank for the call/e-mail/message on social media
- Ensure you understand the question
- Remove the negative words
- Let them know they can get back at you at any time
- Proofread (if you are sending an e-mail or message)
2. Be human and show empathy
Treat your customers as you’d like to be treated as a customer. The golden rule transferred to customer service makes it simple for customer service agents and brands to comprehend positive attitude towards customer interactions.
For whatever reason, a customer has reached out to you, be it a broken TV, late delivery or inability to find something on your webpage, that represents an issue for them. Even the fact that they have reached out to you, and that they have not spilled their anger over social media or forums is a sign of their will to solve the ongoing issue. Consider it feedback, rather than a complaint.
Thank them for taking their time to resolve the issue and be empathetic while doing it. Tell them you are sorry for whatever is bothering them, and try your best to find the solution at that moment. However, don’t risk to fall into the white-lie trap. If you don’t know how to solve their problem right at that moment, apologize and ensure them that you will be calling them right after you’ve found a solution to their problem. But, don’t get lost in your schedule and forget about the commitment you’ve made.
Your customers will be likely to spend more and be loyal to your brand longer if they have a long history of positive interactions.
Picture 2. Positive interactions are the key to loyal customers
3. Be transparent in communication
Products fail, customer support agents sometimes offer wrong or out-dated information about the company. The point is – errors happen, but they must be fixed. It is important to be transparent when you communicate with customers, especially if the mistake was caused by the companies’ products/service or a human mistake.
Customers love companies that are honest and have no trouble in apologizing for their mistakes. Use your empathy and communication skills to explain the situation, apologize for the issues, and communicate how it happened. Above all, ensure that this mistake will not happen again.
Some mistakes are more serious than others, but each of them implies damage control. Sometimes it will be enough to solely apologize for the mistake, but sometimes you will have to offer your customer a discount, free product/service or some other incentive to keep their positive attitude towards the brand.
4. Surprise your customers
Problems of any kind shouldn’t be the only source of interaction with your customers. Think of a common situation, like celebrating your birthday. You feel really nice when you get a birthday card unexpectedly, don’t you? Add a nice voucher with a discount code or a present and you’ve got yourself a happy customer for sure.
There are numerous ways you can provide added value to the interaction your customer has with you. Depending on the type of your customers you can maybe teach them something new through seminars and e-books, start a loyalty program with special prizes, show you value feedback, send gift cards, etc.
5. Managers, keep your team happy
What motivates people to go the extra mile and give their best every time a customer has an issue?
Above the fact that you have hired amazing customer support agents and have trained them well, what else can you do to help them do an amazing job?
The latest research from Glassdoor, a worldwide career site, showed that it is appreciation that motivates people to work harder. Moreover, 81% of 2.000 people who have participated in the survey, stated that they would work harder when they receive appreciation from their bosses.
From customer interaction to loyalty
In a world of ever-growing competition the way you interact with your customers has become vital for doing business. This is precisely the reason why every customer interaction should be done with care. This also means that every interaction is also an opportunity to grow your business. There are always bad days and it’s normal to make mistakes, but this is where a bit of planning and well-thought-out actions do the magic. After all – a happy customer is a loyal customer and that is what counts the most.
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