Why Is Customer Interaction Important for Your Business?
How do you get invaluable insights into the needs, preferences, and experiences of your customers?
It is through effective customer interactions.
What is Customer Interaction?
Let us take a moment to define what constitutes a customer interaction.
It is communication between the business and the customer. Customers may call you when they need help or when they have questions – it can be through email, phone, web chats, social media handles, mobile and messaging apps.
It can also take the form of self-service articles, knowledge bases, FAQs you write for your customers, proactive emails you write your customers, and customers interacting with your intelligent chatbots.
Besides, you can also proactively reach out to check how well they are using your product or services, what challenges they face, and what they would like to see in their service or product.
Every interaction and engagement matters, for it, is an opportunity to deeply engage with your customers and convert them into loyal ambassadors of your offerings.
According to a Zendesk report, roughly half the customers say they’d switch to a competitor after just one bad experience.
Through customer interactions, businesses can learn what is important to their customers and use this information to improve their products, services, and overall customer experience.
Customer Interaction Can Even Help You Improve Your Positioning and Messaging in the Market
Let me give you an example.
I spoke at an SME forum, and one of the participants at the end of the session shared this anecdote.
They were in the business of providing business intelligence (BI) services to their customers.
As soon as they began, they got three customers immediately, and one of them is still associated with them after more than three years.
On and off, they were gaining new customers and losing some old ones. The number of customers never grew beyond three.
Their positioning spoke about their BI skills and the team’s experience using the BI tools.
They weren’t very sure of their positioning and decided to relook at it.
What was the best way to relook at their positioning?
They decided to have a conversation with that one customer who had been with them for more than three years.
They asked him the most challenging question, “Why are you still working with us?”
To which they received this as a response, “Whatever I throw at you related to BI, you guys are able to deliver. Hence, I continue to work with you.”
This customer interaction allowed them to understand their positioning. From then on, they started using this as their positioning statement and adding customers faster.
Every Customer Interaction Is an Opportunity to Engage with Your Customers
Why would organizations come up with ways to make it easier for customers to reach them?
Look at these statements:
- You can reach us at all times by email, call, or messaging apps.
- Every time you call us, your calls will be answered within the first three rings.
- All your queries will be addressed within two interactions. Anything above that is not a part of our SLA
- The most important metric we measure is the Customer Effort Score – the ease with which the customer can interact with us as a business. Everything else is secondary.
Wouldn’t these statements make it easy for you to engage with a business?
These help a customer easily reach you.
Assuming that a customer contacts you with a complaint or an issue, you can use this opportunity to address the problem and resolve it to the customer’s satisfaction.
Customer Interaction Can Provide Invaluable Feedback
We ran multiple customer surveys to understand what our customers think and perceive about our offerings.
We often couldn’t get our customers to fill out the survey because they did not think their feedback would be acted upon.
How often have organizations gotten back to you with your feedback?
It is absolutely fine for people to think that writing out feedback is a thankless job.
In our case, we always go back to our customers on what action has been taken on their feedback. What do we think about their feedback, and what do we intend to do about it?
Once we act on their feedback, we again let them know about the action taken and get them to write out another feedback on their experience.
This has allowed us to make changes and improvements to meet our customers’ needs better.
This interaction has always resulted in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, as customers will see that the business values their input and is willing to make changes based on their feedback.
Customer Interactions Can Help Business to Build and Maintain Lasting Relationships
Let us look at the customer journey.
- The customer becomes aware of our offerings
- They engage with us
- They evaluate our offerings and see if it fits their business needs
- They buy our offering
- We onboard the customer
- We help them with the adoption of our offering
- Then comes retention by providing additional things that are needed for their evolving business
- Ensure customer loyalty by letting customers gain by using our offering and constantly addressing their issues and challenges
- The customer becomes an advocate of our offerings
Did I miss anything here on the journey?
I guess I have covered most things in the journey.
Each of these journeys would have points of friction that can be sorted by closely interacting with the customers.
The solutions to friction can be anything from technology to process to training or just perception. But they have to be carefully handled.
By regularly engaging with customers across the customer journey and providing them with the support and assistance that they need, businesses can create a positive customer experience.
This will encourage customers to continue doing business with them. This can help to increase customer loyalty, as customers will likely become their advocates and recommend it to others.
Let me give you an example of how a business helped its customers become ambassadors.
An EdTech company in the K-12 space understood the gaps in the market, and they wanted to address those gaps using their product.
They conducted one-on-one interviews with hundreds of students and teachers across the country before beginning to design their courses.
These interviews provided clarity on the instructional methods currently being followed and what was lacking in them.
They addressed all the gaps while developing their smart classroom solution. Now, they have 1000s of schools using their product.
This was their product creation story, and they used this as a part of their marketing communication. This has positioned the EdTech business as a leader in the K-12 space, and their customers have become their ambassadors.
Most often than not, businesses fail because their offerings are not adopted well by their users due to poor usability.
Let me give you an example of how usability plays a massive role in adopting your offerings.
Easy to sell, easy to install/configure/provision, and easy to use comprise the test of three for any successful product.
Easy to use ensures that the product is adopted by the end users and becomes successful in the market.
This is the same EdTech company I spoke about in the earlier example, and they prided themselves on the usability and intuitiveness of their offerings.
I asked them, what does your customer feel about the usability of your product?
They said that they were entirely positive about the experience.
I persisted, what do your prospects feel about usability?
They weren’t sure about it.
That’s when we decided to influence the perception of the prospects.
We decided that we would not demonstrate the product to the prospects; instead, we would install the setup and get a couple of volunteers from the school to play around with it.
Once they did that, they understood the usability experience, felt part of the experience, and started championing the product sales, resulting in improved conversions.
This became their usability story, which has become a part of their pitch now.
For more tips and tricks, be sure to check out our article on: Call Center Gamification
Customer Interaction Can Help Businesses Identify Newer Opportunities
Often, you would find customers using your offerings for things that you did not intend your offering to be used for.
For instance, we deployed our automated voice messaging system for appointment scheduling for a leading hospital.
It was a huge success.
We were also suggesting that they use the same for their feedback surveys. But then, they came up with a use case where they wanted to run campaigns on critical illnesses using our platform.
This became a success as well.
Now, we bundle all of these use cases when approaching a healthcare customer. Constant customer interactions can help your product team and business progress.
Customer Interactions Can Help Businesses to Differentiate Themselves
I recently met with someone at the Amex counter in Mumbai. He got into a conversation with me, and I responded as I had a lot of time to kill.
He asked if I would be interested in subscribing to an Amex card. I agreed, and the entire process of filling out the form and the KYC were over in 10 minutes.
Then we both had a cup of coffee at the Airport, and we split.
I received a call from him the next day that the process was complete, and I should be hearing back from them within 48 hours.
Then I received a message stating that my card was approved. Then, I received a message stating that it had been shipped.
The best part of the interaction was receiving a call from the person who sold the card after I started using it. He took me through the benefits of the card again.
He also suggested I join him for a cup of coffee the next time I visit Mumbai airport.
Which card do you think I would recommend to any of my friends the next time they ask me?
Isn’t that the competitive differentiator? How did they achieve this? It is through providing exemplary service through constant customer interaction. It is by providing something unique and valuable to their customers.
By engaging with customers and providing exceptional customer service, businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors and create a positive, memorable customer experience that will set them apart.
Haven’t we heard the saying that customer experience is the new product and innovation?
Customer interaction is essential for businesses, for it provides invaluable insights into the needs and preferences of customers.
It helps identify problems, provides valuable feedback for improving products and services, and helps to build and maintain strong, lasting relationships with customers while helping businesses to differentiate from their competitors.
Through customer interaction and engagement with them, you can provide exceptional customer service, improve the customer experience, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately drive increased sales and revenue.