Your customers have high expectations — and if your business can't meet them, they're going to leave you for your competitors. It sounds harsh, yes, but the truth is that great customer interactions happen when you do two things:
- Give your customers a product or service that works for them
- Make it easy for customers to get help when needed
You already know that the customer experience doesn't end with a sale — it's an ongoing work in progress that companies should be constantly seeking to improve and iterate on. Putting in the work and trying to go above and beyond for your customers will make them proud to support your business and products.
To get you started, here are our suggestions for how you can make customers love interacting with your business.
Table of Contents
- Why Customer Interactions Matter
- Examples of Customer Interactions
- Why are customer interactions important?
- How to Improve Customer Interaction Management
Why Customer Interactions Matter
Customer interactions are instances when people communicate and engage with businesses. These moments occur throughout the customer journey and typically relate to marketing campaigns, sales promotions, and service-related issues.
There are plenty of reasons customers interact with businesses — not to mention the plethora of channels they use, too. In fact, the image below shows us five general examples that can be applied to most customer experiences.
Customers interact with a business through marketing, sales, and customer service. In each of these, customers have different needs, goals, and expectations from your brand, but that doesn't make one reason more important than another. These are all opportunities for your brand to acquire, convert, and delight your customers.
Let's look at some examples of customer interactions, categorized by marketing, sales, and customer service.
Examples of Customer Interactions
Customer Interactions in Marketing
- A customer sees an advertisement for your brand on social media and comments on it.
- A customer sees store signage that details the features of a specific product or service.
- A customer signs up for your email newsletter to receive weekly updates and promotions.
- A customer goes to one of your company events.
Customer Interactions in Sales
- A customer calls your support line and asks to speak with a sales representative.
- A customer visits your website and decides to open a live chat conversation with a sales representative.
- A customer receives an email from your sales team and schedules a meeting.
- A sales representative calls a customer to see how they are liking their new product or service.
- A sales representative emails a customer to follow up on a conversation that happened earlier.
Customer Interactions in Customer Service
- A customer calls a support line to get help with a product or service.
- A customer has a question about a product, service, or marketing promotion, and reaches out to your brand on social media.
- A customer who's upset with their customer experience writes a negative review of your brand.
- A customer success manager reaches out to a customer who's showing signs of churn.
Across these functions of business, these various interactions are tracked in a single repository known as customer interaction management (CIM) software.
Customer Interaction Management (CIM)
This CIM software is used to manage and record interactions between an organization and its customers. From the beginning of a buyer's journey to its completion, this type of software tracks all historical data from customers through a multitude of digital and in-person channels.
Customers interact with your business in many different ways, and CIM software can help you manage this communication across many of the following channels:
- Live Chat
- Social Media
- Live Video
- Snail Mail
So we’ve discussed the different types of information tracked by customer interaction management, but why do we want to record this data in the first place?
Why are customer interactions important?
Customer interactions give businesses the data needed to improve customer satisfaction.
Without looking at customer interaction data, a business could be churning customers without knowing why. Reviewing that data uncovers gaps in communication, customer roadblocks, or other poor practices conducted by your service, sales, or other teams.
By taking the time to review the average customer interaction, your business can adjust its customer experience (CX) strategy to provide a more useful, pleasant shopping experience. And the more enjoyable the interactions become, the more likely customers are to be loyal to your business.
Now, let's look at how you can make every customer interaction memorable with these handy tips.
How to Improve Customer Interaction Management
- Show empathy and gratitude.
- Be conscientious.
- Be transparent and communicative.
- Ask for and act on customer feedback.
- Surprise and delight your customers.
- Go where your customers are.
- Talk like a human.
- Give a gift that gains their loyalty.
1. Get to know your customers as people.
We probably sound like a broken record by now, but we can’t overemphasize the importance of getting to know your customers as people. It’s hard, if not impossible, to help people you know nothing about. That’s why customer service reps should familiarize themselves with the pain points, challenges, wants, and needs of their customers.
Yang says he has worked with many companies that struggle with customer service. The biggest challenge? “They didn’t really know their customers,” Yang recounts. “So when they interacted with them, the conversations were awkward and uncomfortable.
When sharing his top tip, Yang says, “Train your employees to understand your customers as people first—and then equip them with tools and resources so that they can help your customers in a way that makes sense for them personally.”
2. Show empathy and gratitude.
Are you familiar with the golden rule? "Treat others as you want to be treated."
The customer service golden rule should be "Treat customers as you want to be treated as a customer." (I know it's not as catchy, but I'm making a point here.)
We've written about the importance of empathy in a customer-facing role a few times before, and it deserves to be underscored again.
It might sound simple, but demonstrating your empathy for your customers as well as your gratitude for their loyalty goes a long way in every customer interaction.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Thank your customers — for everything. Thank them for their patience if your company experiences an outage or disruption in service. Thank them for understanding if you or your company makes an error. Thank them for their loyalty when they renew or buy again. Thank them for taking the time to share their feedback, whether it's good or bad.
- Be empathic in your responses to customer complaints and issues. Say "I'm sorry" for whatever the issue is impacting in their day-to-day. They could be losing time or money, or just experiencing a tremendous headache. You don't always know what's going on in your customers' daily lives, so err on the side of apologetic if they come to you with an issue — big or small.
Customers are more likely to spend more and be loyal, longer, if they have a history of positive experiences with your company. Do your part to make each sign-off positive and gracious to make your customers feel good about working with you.
3. Be conscientious.
This is a lesson you may have learned when you were a student, or in your first job, and it's important in your customer-facing job, too.
It's of utmost importance to be conscientious and to responsibly follow-up to every customer communication you engage in with a solution, a forum for feedback, or helpful educational resources they can benefit from.
“Post-service check-ins are small moves that show your customers you care about their results,” says Broer. “You can automate and personalize follow-up SMS and email after customer interactions to see how your solutions worked for them and offer any extra help.
Broer notes that check-ins are a great way to go above and beyond. “With a check-in, you can make the lasting memory your company leaves on customers a positive one,” he says.
Whether you're connecting with customers over the phone, via email, or by commenting on social media, they might be hesitant to reach out (because — let's face it — sometimes it feels like a customer service rep doesn't have all the answers.).
Here are a few ways you can prove them wrong:
- If you can't solve a customer's problem with them in the first interaction, provide them with an exact and reasonable timeframe within which they can expect a resolution. Set a clear time and date, and put the responsibility on your plate to follow up.
- If your customer runs into an issue that you resolve, follow up with them a week or two later to make sure they aren't still running into the same issue.
- Better yet, do research to investigate when your customers typically encounter issues with your product and reach out proactively with advice to try to prevent that friction in the first place.
- If you're in an ongoing relationship with a group of customers, take the time to learn more about them and their business, and reach out from time to time with information about their industry, or congratulations about a milestone.
4. Be transparent and communicative.
It's extremely important to be transparent when you communicate with your customers — especially if it's about a mistake or error caused by you or your product.
Using your empathy and gratitude muscles, don't hesitate to explain the situation, apologize for the issue, and communicate how it happened — and how it won't happen again. If it could happen again, be clear on that so your customer can prepare for the future.
Particularly if the issue involves personal data or information, or if your product serves as a system of record for a business -- you'll need to take your responsibility to your customers even more seriously.
In today's era of data breaches and credit card hacking, customers want to understand what you're doing to fix problems and prevent them from happening again. Make sure you're prepared with transparent customer communications — and if you're not, ask your team manager or director for better guidance.
5. Ask for and act on customer feedback.
You can't just give the term "valued customer" lip service — you need to walk the walk by regularly asking for and acting on customer feedback.
Asking customers for feedback via surveys is an effective way to identify potential problems before they cause your customers to churn.
Surveys also provide customers with an avenue to voice their thoughts on your product or your customer service in a way that makes them truly feel valued, and their specific feedback on 1:1 interactions with employees allows you to better hone your processes — or to shout out employees going above and beyond.
Your company may already have a process in place for regularly soliciting feedback, in which case you don't want to inundate your customers with even more messages that could lead to survey fatigue.
If your company already has asked for responses down pat, make sure you're soliciting feedback in your 1:1 conversations with customers as well. Even if it's not official or on the record, qualitative feedback will help you improve your service, and customers will appreciate the opportunity to be honest and share their views. And if your team isn't already deploying post-call Net Promoter Score® surveys, it can be a helpful way to develop your skills and share learnings with the greater team.
6. Delight your customers whenever you can.
We're big advocates of delighting your customers, and a big element of delight is the surprise element.
Make sure to take time periodically to surprise your customers -- Surprisingly enough (get it), you don't necessarily need to wow them with a gift or a discount (although those can be nice, too).
Sometimes, something as simple as a thank you letter, company swag, or a shoutout on social media can go a long way towards building goodwill and an emotional connection with your customers. And an emotional connection can sometimes be a bigger predictor of loyalty than responses to customer satisfaction surveys.
7. Go where your customers are.
As a customer, nothing annoys me more than when I send a Twitter DM to a company to complain about something, and they reply with a number I can call to voice my concerns. I'm already experiencing friction dealing with an issue with the product — I shouldn't have to wait on hold to hear from a customer support rep, too.
It's your job to make it as easy and painless as possible for your customers to get the answers they need to use your product or service. To do that, you should have a plan in place for providing service across a variety of channels where your customers typically reach out to you.
Strive to respond to customer requests and issues on the same platform where they originally reached out. This is more convient for the customer and cuts down on the number of transfers that your service team has to conduct.
There are always exceptions to this — sometimes, you just have to talk things out or hop on a video call — but you should make every effort to keep communications on the same platform where your customer originally asked you for help. This helps you engage with customers faster to get them the answers they need.
8. Talk like a human.
Your customers aren't looking for scripted corporate-speak when they're in need of assistance. Particularly if you're communicating with customers on social media, scripted, formal language can ring hollow and insincere.
If you're in the middle of solving a customer issue, keep your language professional. But once you've solved a customer's problem, or if a customer is reaching out to share positive feedback, feel free to be less scripted, and more yourself.
Use good judgment when communicating with customers authentically and in your own voice. For example, if customers are reaching out to you on Twitter, don't be shy about responding back to them with a GIF or a hashtag. If you're leaving them a comment on Instagram, try to work in an emoji. Little personal touches can endear you to your customers and make them more excited to connect with you.
9. Give a gift that gains their loyalty.
Thank you cards are great, but customers admire it when brands go the extra mile and send them nice little gifts. Not only do gifts instill memories, but they also add a special layer of happiness.
Thank you cards are great, but customers admire it when brands go the extra mile by sending them nice little gifts. Not only do gifts instill memories in customers and make them happy, but they make customers loyal to your brand.
According to HubSpot's State of Consumer Trends report, gifting produced up to 28% ROI on lapsed customers. So, the next time you want to thank your customers, consider emailing them a gift card, grocery coupon, or a discount on your service/products.
Consider leveraging reward platforms for this, as they do all the heavy lifting for your business. Xoxoday is a good option here — it's cloud-based, robust, and lets you send gifts from your existing workflows instantly.
10. Mirror the body language of your customers.
Whenever you’re speaking to customers face-to-face, try to mirror their body language. Mirroring someone’s gesticulations and pace can create a shared experience and make them feel more at ease with you — especially if they’re nervous or uncertain.
This is especially important if you work in sensitive industries like health and wellness. The more comfortable customers or patients feel around your staff, the more likely they are to open up and develop loyal relationships with your business.
Alex Milligan, the co-founder and CMO of NuggMD, a telemedicine company, often encounters nervous clients who are uncertain about the outcome of their consultations. He’s found that mimicking the person’s subtle actions and responses helps to build a sense of trust and familiarity.
“In most cases, people won’t notice that you’re copying them,” Milligan says. “Instead, they feel like you speak their language and understand them, which helps you to establish a positive rapport.”
11. Offer customers multiple channels through which they can reach out and get assistance.
As a business, you should offer your customers multiple channels through which they can get in touch with your customer service team. Not only does this ease the workload for your team, but it also ensures that customers can use a method that is convenient for them.
For example, say the channels through which customers can reach out to your team are email, live chat, chatbot, and phone support. Customers with problems that don’t need instant solutions can reach out through email, while those with urgent issues can get on a phone call with one of your customer service reps.
People who just want to clarify some information can do that through your chatbot, while those who want to make quick inquiries can get on a live chat with one of your agents.
Now, imagine what will happen to your customer service reps and your customers if you only offer email support. Your team will be bogged down by emails of all kinds (with no way to sort them out by priority), while customers may get angry when their problems are rectified on time — which leads to them sending even more emails to your team.
If clients encounter urgent equipment problems, they can coordinate with dedicated, local account managers for immediate guidance, she says. They can also explore a user-friendly website and find helpful resources, like articles and ebooks.
“For more complex problems, a phone support option is available, as it connects them to our knowledgeable customer service representatives,” Chevrette says. “With this multi-channel approach, we ensure healthcare professionals receive prompt and personalized assistance...”
12. Train your customer service representatives on how to interact with customers.
When asked about the secret to improving customer interactions, Young Pham, the co-founder and senior project manager at BizReport, simply replied, "The idea of learning should be fully integrated into the normal day-to-day operations of the customer support department."
Pham is right.
While the feedback provided by customers offers a lot of insights on how to improve customer interactions, you should also be open to training and constantly improving your customer support team. Pham goes on to recommend "internal or external capacity-building programs that enhance the team’s ability to adapt and respond to changing customer demands."
Make Your Customers Love Interacting with Your Business
We are living in a world that's highly competitive, and the way you deal with a customer leaves a big impact on your brand name. That's why customer interaction must be done with extra care, as it serves as an incredible opportunity to grow your business.
While there are bad days and it is okay to make mistakes, it shouldn't be the case often. With little planning and well-thought-out actions, you can pull this off right. The journey from customer interaction to customer loyalty isn't overnight, but it isn't complicated either. All it takes is the right loyalty rewards to appreciate them.
Happy customers = Loyal customers! Let's not forget that.
Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.