Making Every Customer Interaction Meaningful

“Make every interaction count, even the small ones. They are all relevant.” – Shep Hyken

The quote above hits the nail on the head – in a manner of speaking. Making every customer interaction meaningful is a business need and every interaction should be used as an opportunity to ‘get closer’ to the company’s customers. Every positive customer interaction enhances the company’s chances of retaining their customers, building relationships, encouraging loyalty, and enhancing profitability.  Getting closer to customers ensures that a company can understand them better, which in turn enables it to put in place relevant strategies, CRM systems, customized products, and adapt swiftly to their changing needs. A better understanding of customers eventually leads to meaningful and memorable customer interactions each time. Happy customers directly and positively affect a company’s bottom line – expanding it at a fast and sustained pace.

Gaining engaged and loyal customers is perhaps the goal for most companies. To get customers on your side, a company first needs to ‘give’ consistently to customers. This translates to ensuring that a company makes every customer interaction meaningful, such that they look forward to connecting with the company repeatedly and tell others of their experiences too. Meaningful interactions lead to engagement – without engagement there can be no be long-term customers and even the best efforts of a company would be futile. By making every customer interaction meaningful, customers are more amenable to overlooking minor lapses and would even be willing, over time, to pay an incremental rate for your company’s offerings. There would be many interactions in any customer’s journey with a company – uniform and consistently great experiences with each, would firmly establish your company as one that truly cares about its customers.

We know that customer expectations have changed over time – becoming more pronounced and exacting in nature. Of course, they expect to receive a solution to their problems, but they also expect that the company would go out of their way to provide them with advice and insights that would come in handy to address potential future problems. Making every customer interaction meaningful then translates to service representatives having in-depth conversations with them to ascertain issues that might extend beyond the current or apparent. Service representatives must attempt each time to discover the root cause of the problem such that they can provide a better solution to not just the problem at hand, but also for other problems that could occur from the root cause.

The challenge of making every customer interaction meaningful is becoming even more profound since there are now multiple channels of communication, and customers are at liberty to use any or all of them. It has become imperative for companies to respond to customers through the channels of their choice and at the time, they deem appropriate. These factors combined would make interactions meaningful or completely irrelevant for customers. It is the job of a company to understand their customers thoroughly and enhance the level of each interaction by giving customers exactly what they want – and more. The shift of power and choices to customers means that customers decide when and whether they would like to engage with a brand. Companies have no choice but to comply by focusing their attention on the information provided by customers such that they can provide the best experiences, with the least amount of effort for customers. Irrespective of the stature of the brand or company, if it is not visible and does not seek to have meaningful interactions with its customers, it could soon go into oblivion.

Another, and possibly the most important aspect to remember while trying to make every customer interaction meaningful, is to treat every interaction as special and at an individual level. While customer service representatives may deal with similar situations and problems through the day, for a customer when they seek an interaction – that is pertinent to them. It belongs to them alone and they expect their problem or issue to be treated as important. A company that can do this with every interaction and with every customer has a better chance of creating engagement and loyalty with its customers. While one customer may understand certain industry jargon and phrases, another might be blissfully ignorant of them. Since both customers differ, it would be highly imprudent to use the same approach to deal with both of them in the same way, even if their problem were the same. The worst thing a company can do for its customers is behave robotic and apply mechanical methods, that are common for all customers. The interactions would have no meaning and instead could leave a customer fuming and could possibly walk out the door.

We may have said this several times, but the effect and importance of this point cannot be underestimated. In order to make every customer interaction meaningful, it is crucial that service representatives or whoever faces the customer, listens with the intent to understand.  Effective and genuine listening is an absolute must in customer service and yet many companies continue to err on this aspect. Listening is an art that requires time, focus, and practice – without all these, it would be impossible to make listening, a habit. Customers do not want to interact with a company that is unable to understand basic queries, which in turn is a sordid waste of their time. They would rather stick with a business that gives them the undivided attention they deserve, provide them with speedy and effective solutions, and go a step further to provide some valuable insights that would help prevent future problems of a similar nature.

It is only through careful listening, that a service representative would be able to repeat their understanding of whatever the customer said. Intent listening would lead to clarity and through clarity it would be possible to instantly analyse the problem and if not a permanent one, at least provide an interim solution. The idea is to display to the customer that the company is listening and to build confidence and trust in the mind of the customer. By repeating the customer’s issue in their own words, service representatives display authority, knowledge, and commitment, which in turn allow a customer to be at ease. Such adaptable and agile behaviour ensures that every interaction with a customer remains pleasant, memorable, and meaningful. Customers prefer companies that can reduce the amount of effort they need to expend in order to get a problem sorted out, coupled with fast and efficient responses. For a customer, that would be a meaningful interaction.

Remember, that while politeness and swiftness are appreciated qualities, customers want to know and see the corresponding action too. Ensure that some tangible measures are put in place to resolve the problem and keep the customer informed of the same. If the issue were large and complex, it would be beneficial to appoint a small team to get behind it until it is resolved and the customer is able to get what they were looking for. If the fault seems to lie with the customer, it would be prudent to take them through the resolution systematically, such that they remain aware and feel in control. An apology makes a huge difference to ensure that even in the midst of a crisis the interactions remain meaningful and mutually respectful.

To make every customer interaction meaningful is not something a company does for customers. Rather, it helps itself and its brand to become more memorable, have higher recall value, and become the preferred company / brand for customers. In the long haul, this is what will differentiate a company from its competitors and keep it successful.

Learn about a new approach to better customer service!

Interactive Guides for Superior Customer Service

Create interactive decision trees for customer service management, cold call scripts or self-service. Improve sales performance metrics and customer delight across your call centers.

Interactive Decision Tree