In addition to creating a product/service that works, customers want to buy from companies that make requests for help and support quickly and easily, which makes them somewhat proud to support the philosophy and culture of that specific company. As is known, the customer experience does not end with the sale alone: it is a process that companies should constantly seek to improve.
Interactions with customers represent the moments in which they communicate with companies and these moments that occur during the buyer’s journey refer to marketing campaigns, sales promotions, or requests for help from the assistance department. The reasons that drive customers to relate to companies are innumerable, as are the channels. The image below shows five examples, created by Hubspot, which are well-sewn to most of the experiences created by customers.
Essentially, there are three main reasons customers interact: marketing, sales, and customer service. In each of these, users have different needs, expectations, and goals, and all are equally important because they represent opportunities for the company to acquire, convert and delight new customers.
Specifically, some examples of interaction are presented, divided according to the department in which they take place.
- The customer sees an ad on social media and comments on it
- The customer enters the shop and asks for the characteristics of a specific product/service
- The customer subscribes to the newsletter to receive updates and promotions
- The customer attends one of the corporate events
- The customer calls to be able to speak to a sales representative
- The customer, browsing the website, decides to open a live chat with a seller
- The customer, receiving an email from a sales representative, schedules a meeting with him
- The seller calls the customer to find out if she is enjoying the new product/service
- The seller sends an email to the customer to continue a previous conversation
- The customer calls assistance with a ticketing system to request support with a product/service
- The customer has a question about the product/service or about a marketing promotion and addresses the company page on social media
- The customer, dissatisfied with his experience, writes a bad review
- A manager approaches the customer when signs of abandonment are shown
Before describing the methods with which the customer experience can be made fantastic, it is important to note that the channels used to interact are many. Many are being created every day, but the most popular continues to be emails, calls, live chats, web pages, snail mail, and in-person meetings.
Once we analyze how interactions happen, we present some suggestions to make them great.
1. Show Empathy and Gratitude
The main rule of customer service should be “treat customers as you would like to be treated when YOU are a customer” and although the importance of empathy in building customer relationships has been repeatedly stressed, this advice is again underlined.
Although it seems simple, make sure that in each of the interactions the customer perceives empathy for his difficulties. It is important to stimulate a sense of gratitude and loyalty towards the company. to show empathy it is therefore advisable to:
- Thank customers. Thank customers for their patience should the business experience an outage, thank them for realizing that the business made a mistake, thank them for their loyalty, and for taking the time to share feedback, positive or negative as it is.
- You need to be empathetic in responding to customer complaints and problems, apologizing for whatever issue is affecting their daily lives; the problem could be the loss of time, money, or a simple headache and the company, not knowing the vicissitudes of the customers, should always apologize when they present themselves with a problem, big or small.
Customers have a greater probability of spending and long-term loyalty, where you create a history of positive experiences with the company, which you must therefore work so that with kind and positive tones it makes customers feel at ease in interacting with it.
2. Be Conscientious
It is of the utmost importance to be conscientious and carry out any communication with customers in a responsible manner, committing to finding a solution to the problem, providing resources from which they could benefit, and finally, a form to receive feedback. Whether connecting by phone, email, or social media, customers may feel that interaction alone does not solve the problem.
Suggestions for proving customers wrong in this consideration are:
- If the problem cannot be resolved in the first interaction, it is suggested that you give the customer a reasonable period within which to expect a resolution. A time or date can be established when the assistant puts the responsibility of solving the problem on the plate and contacting the customer again.
- If the problem is resolved, it is suggested that you contact the customer again a week or two later to ensure that the problem has not reoccurred.
- Do research to pinpoint the exact moment the customer encounters that kind of problem with the product/service, working proactively during interactions to try to deliver value from the beginning.
- If the relationship is ongoing and with a group of customers, you can take the time to learn more about their business by contacting them from time to time providing useful information about their industry, or congratulating them on important achievements.
3. Be Transparent and Communicative
It is extremely important to be transparent when communicating with customers, especially when it comes to an error caused by the operator or by the product. Through empathy and gratitude, you need to go and explain the situation, apologize for the problem, and describe how the mistake happened. Above all, that it won’t happen again!
In particular, if the product/service involves customers’ personal data or information, or if the product records the customer’s activity, you must take your responsibilities towards them seriously.
In this day and age, whether it’s a data breach, privacy, or credit card hack, customers want to know how the company is working to fix their problem and prevent it from happening again, so be transparent in communications and, if this does not happen, ask the team manager for a better training guide to be.
4. Ask for Feedback and Act Accordingly
Regularly asking customers for feedback through surveys is an effective way to identify potential problems before they cause abandonment. Surveys offer customers the opportunity to express their opinion about the product/service or customer service, making them feel truly valued and making the evaluations regarding 1:1 interactions provide an opportunity to refine processes.
The company may already have a process in place that regularly requests feedback and in this case should work to not inundate customers with too many communications that could make the survey worthless, because answered without real knowledge of the facts. You can use emails to get in touch with people and request their point of view or set it up automatically on your website. If you don’t know how to do this, you can always hire backend developers. Even if unofficial, qualitative feedback will help the company improve the service and customers will appreciate the opportunity to be honest and share their opinions.
5. Delight Customers Whenever Possible
Customer satisfaction and happiness can also materialize through the element of surprise. For this reason, the company should periodically dedicate itself to surprising its customers.
The element of surprise does not necessarily have to take the form of a gift or a discount, even if they are certainly appreciable, but also through simple elements such as a letter of thanks or appreciation via social media posts, in such a way as to build an emotional and empathetic relationship with their customers. In fact, an emotional connection can sometimes be a better predictor of customer loyalty than a response to a survey.
6. Go Where the Customers Are
Sometimes nothing annoys customers more than a social media response to a help request with a number to call. If they are already having problems with the products, they shouldn’t have to wait in line to speak to a customer service employee on the phone. The company’s task must be to make it simple and painless for customers to obtain answers on the use of the product/service and to do this, it must have a plan to provide valuable services on the different channels through which customers go to contact it.
Strive to always respond to customer requests on the same platform on which the interaction was initiated. There may be exceptions, but efforts should be made to maintain communications on the initial platform because it indicates the customer’s preferred route to communicating. Doing this helps the company interact faster with customers who are looking for answers to what they need at that moment.
7. Talk Like a Human Being
The final tip to make customers love to contact the company even if they have problems is to speak like a human being. Customers are not looking for corporate language when speaking or communicating with customer service, just as formal language used on social media could come across as empty and insincere.
If you are dealing with a customer, it is desirable to use professional language, but once the need has been resolved and the customer is contacting the company for positive feedback, the operator can feel free to use more humane and less formal language.
Use common sense in relationships to appear authentic, even if it means replying on Twitter with a GIF or hashtag. Conversely, small personal touches can endear the company to customers, who will be more excited to connect and communicate with you.