“Building a rich customer experience does not happen
by accident, it happens by design.” – Clare Muscutt
Finding customers may or may not be easy, but what’s really difficult is to make them stay with us in the long haul. One of the primary reasons why businesses fail to keep their customers is poor customer interaction.
Customer interaction is a self-explanatory term. How you put it to use for your business will determine if the customer is going to stay with your brand or not. If you are wondering that why one such basic concept needs so much attention then here’s why:
Makes your business reliable
Customers will spend or invest their money in your products and services if they know that your business is reliable. Strong customer interaction is one way of achieving the status of reliability.
Customers want to make sure that they have made the right decision by choosing your business. Making follow-up calls, taking customer feedback, and asking for customer suggestions will affirm that they made the right decision.
What could be more important for a business than providing satisfactory services to its customers? I believe nothing else. Consistent customer interaction is one of the ways to satisfy your customers by listening to their concerns and resolving their issues at the earliest.
Customer interaction management
In technical terms, customer interaction management can be defined as the process that involves the management of interactions with your customers through different channels and different levels of the customer interaction cycle.
It is important not only to resolve customer issues faster but also to personalize their experience with your brand.
Customer interaction cycle
This is the first step in the customer interaction cycle. A customer can get to know about your business from any channel such as a social media advertisement, your website, or maybe through a reference.
Now that a customer is aware of your brand/business they will be determining how feasible it is for them. They figure out if your business is a sustainable option. This evaluation majorly takes place through your previous customer interactions that are available on social media handles, or in reviews of other customers.
The customer has done their evaluation and they are ready to buy your products if it suits them. However, if your customer interaction disappoints them then this cycle ends right here.
How you treat your customers after the customer has bought your products and services will determine if the customer will come back or not. Customer interaction plays a crucial role here. How you take up your customer’s query, how you interact with them, and how you resolve their query will all determine what would be the next stage.
If the customer is satisfied with your service then he/she will come back and bring references as well. Thus your customer interaction will determine if you get more business or not.
9 ways to delight your customer
Be truthful and transparent
Transparency is a thing that many businesses claim to have but in reality, for most of them, it is nothing more than a buzzword. Transparency is a necessity for every customer interaction and is one of the most important Dos of customer service. Being transparent means being straightforward and upfront to your customers regardless of the situation. Most of all you should not keep any information hidden from your customers regarding your products and services. Your customers have the right to know what they are paying for and why. Break the price into pieces and send it to them if needed. You must justify and clarify any query whatsoever your customer has without keeping any secrets.
Going behind the back of your customer or hiding im[ortant details about your product from them will never work. Nestle is one of the companies that landed itself in trouble by doing so. Maggi is one of the most popular and widely used food products of Nestle. From young kids to teenagers to old old-aged people, Maggi is everyone’s favorite. Best part? It costs very little for a one-time meal.
But in 2014 few things about Maggi that were kept in the dark came to light. When some food safety tests were run on the product in India it was found out that Maggi had high levels of monosodium glutamate (MSG) apart from high lead content above the permissible level. This put forth that Nestle has not been transparent about the ingredients with its customers. Even though they have mentioned all the ingredients on the product, they were still not being 100% transparent to their customers. They chose to affect their customers’ health just for the sake of business.
The truth always sees the light of the day then why not be truthful with your customers from the beginning itself? This is one question that many brands have to ask themselves. Being transparent means taking account of any mistake and then giving a stand on how you will fix that. It means you do not delete any bad reviews from your social media handles to build an impression on your customers rather you take responsibility for any inconvenience caused. Word of mouth is one of the ways that play an important role in helping businesses flourish. If you want to have a positive customer interaction review make sure you are crystal clear with them.
Solve problems as fast as possible
Try to solve customer issues as fast as you can with the least amount of interaction possible. Each time there’s an escalation, comprehend the purposes for it and take significant measures to keep it from happening once more. For instance, consider an issue where the agent couldn’t react to the client on time since he/she was over-burden with work. An escalation for this case wouldn’t have been necessary if the responsibilities would have been evenly distributed among all employees.
Consider another situation where an agent, who was subject to another group for the effective goal of an issue, didn’t hear from them on schedule. For this situation, the responsibility for escalation should lie with the other team and they need to take the onus to keep the client educated.
Empathize with your customer
Pause for a minute to think about the proposition from the client’s perspective. In case you were them, what goal would satisfy you? What might you need a brand to do for you or say to you? Keep in mind, the client reached you since they need a human reaction. View their eagerness to talk as a decent sign, and be certain you truly get where they’re coming from.
Showing compassion, understanding, and affection towards your client will make your interaction with them positive and healthy. It will also in return make the customer polite and humble in case he or she is in anguish.
Make interactions easy
What’s necessary for excellent customer interaction is that the customers have easy access to interaction. They can reach out to your business anytime and through various channels. Redesign your website if needed and add ‘contact us’/’chat with us’ pages. Add chatbots to your websites so your customers can reach out to you. Give them an option to reach out to you through social media platforms as well as they are the most prevalent means f communication these days.
Calling is the best and the easiest way for a customer to reach a business and get instant solutions to their problems, you can make it handier by using a toll-free business number. A toll-free number will enable your customers to call you anytime from anywhere for free. They wouldn’t have to pay anything to reach out to you. A toll-free number is also highly customizable so you can also add features like IVR and call routing to give your customers a rich calling experience.
For example, Myntra offers free calling to all its customers along with IVR service interaction. No doubt the brand is flourishing and becoming bigger and better every day.
In the corporate world cultivating any culture is a long haul. But you need to step up and build the culture of customers first right now for your business if you want to take it a step ahead. The reason why Amazon is growing every day is because of its motto of customers first.
Jeff Bezos has said it once that “We are never competitor based or obsessed. We are always customer based and obsessed. We work in a backward workflow. We always begin with our customer needs and then build the framework”.
It is this attitude of keeping the customers over anything else that makes them one of the top e-commerce platforms. You can make your small homegrown business also a brand with this affirmed attitude of customer service.
Everybody likes to feel appreciated. Customers are the same. Customers have a lot of options to choose from in the market. Gradually when they discover the market and make new connection their decision-making start becoming more complex and thoughtful. If you want the customers to keep choosing you over others then, showing a badge of appreciation to your clients can go far to separate your organization from the ones in the market.
There are different approaches to show your clients you really like them for picking your services, products, or administration. For starters expressing your gratitude by saying thank, you is a good way of delighting your customers. Eventually, you can start offering other gifts. From free updates and coupons to cards to say thanks and early admittance to deals, even a basic handshake, makes your customers feel that they are being given VIP treatment.
A beauty brand can add small freebies of skincare products. A clothing business can offer a 10% extra discount to regular customers. A footwear business can give a pair of socks as a token of appreciation to its customers. It does not always have to be something big. Even small tokens of appreciation can delight your customers to an extent you cannot imagine. After all, who isn’t a fan of discounts and freebies? These acts of gratitude can get you more business, customer loyalty, and happy customers.
Go where your customers call you
I find nothing more annoying when I mail a business about the issues I have been facing and then they reach out all of a sudden by calling me without any prior information. I am sure this must be troublesome for other customers as well. I would rather appreciate a reply on my mail saying that they will reach out to me instead of a direct call. Businesses need to understand that they cannot just barge into their customers’ lives.
If your customer reaches out via Facebook, make sure you reply to them there only. Or if needed ask them before you make a call. Similarly, if your brand has been called out by a customer through comments on social media then you should reply on the same platform first and then connect with your customer to solve their inconvenience.
Go exactly where your customers are. As a business, your only focus should be customers and their comfort. One way of doing that is by taking up their queries on the same platform where they contacted you.
Fulfill your customers’ expectations
To understand customer interaction you need to understand customer expectations first. Whenever a customer chooses your business they have a set of expectations from it that has been laid by the business itself.
For example, your local general store promises to deliver the ordered items within one hour. Or food delivery partners like Zomato and Swiggy promise you a time frame within which the food would be delivered. If there is even a slight delay it disappoints us and we reach to the customer care instantly because they did not fulfill our expectations.
So to delight your customers you must make sure to fulfill all the expectations you have laid down for them. If you claim to give the option of exchange and return with 100% money back then you ought to hold onto it. If you will try to thug your customers or fool them then let me tell you right away, your business might flourish initially but it is going down eventually.
One sign of good customer interaction is the smart management of customer expectations. When you will be realistic and honest with your customers and keep a check on their expectations you will learn how easy it is to delight your customers.
Take feedbacks and act on them
No matter how much we talk about feedbacks, it will never be enough. Feedbacks are the most underrated and yet the best way to improve your customer interaction and delight them. I have seen many small businesses following the practice of taking feedback from even the customer who bought something as small as a needle. This is utterly flattering and something to learn from.
Your customers wouldn’t come to you to give feedback. If they do not like the product they might keep it but they won’t come to shop again and if they like it then as well they wouldn’t come to you to tell that. Both negative and positive feedback will help you grow. Thus, you should always contact your customers for feedback or offer them a feedback management system where they can leave their feedback.
Your work does not end just at taking the feedback, in reality, your work starts there. After getting customer feedback should you start working on it and deliver the desired results. These practices will make your customers feel that their opinion matter and that their suggestion is cared for eventually, making them happy. Furthermore, the more feedback you will get from your customers the more you will learn about them. The knowledge that you will gain from them will help you know what kind of a customer they are and how you need to interact with them to keep them happy. At the end of the day, it will all pay off by making your customer interaction better.
How good customer interaction can help your business?
Customer interaction starts right when customers discovered your brand. Thus it is important to know its value. Here is how good customer interaction will help your business:
Boosts customer loyalty
When you will always satisfy your customers by taking care of their issues and concerns they will start trusting you. They will start having faith in your brand and eventually become more loyal.
No negative word of mouth
Every time a brand disappoints me I make sure that people around me know about it so they do not get scammed like me. I am certain you do that too. Similarly, your customers must too. But if you have a strong and managed customer interaction system then there is no way that anything negative will be said about your business by any of your customers.
Learning about customers
Good customer interaction will result in you learning about your customers. You will learn about their preferences and their needs. The more you know about your customers the better you will be able to serve them. So make sure your business interacts with its customers often.