What Is An Interaction?
By definition, interactions, or customer interactions, are a concept that encompasses every communication made between a brand and a customer. Previously, customer interaction was limited to in-person assistance between a customer and a salesperson or support agent.
Now, the same advances that allow shoppers to purchase products and services online enable them to talk or chat with representatives using their cell phones, computers, or mobile devices. Further, communication has extended beyond the constraints of a physical storefront or e-commerce site. Customers can contact companies through dozens of communication channels, including an Internet forum, social media comments, via live chat, or by email.
How Do Interactions Impact Customer Service?
Interactions impact businesses from virtually every angle and at each level within their organizational structure. However, customer service agents are often at the forefront of customer interactions due to the client-facing nature of their jobs. Because of this, it’s critical to create a positive interaction, resolve complaints, and address concerns to prevent a loyal customer from becoming a detractor.
As an effect of positive interactions, agents can directly impact company success in the following ways.
1. Improved Customer Satisfaction
Simply put, customer interactions can often determine customer satisfaction levels. Positive interactions often lead to happy customers. At the same time, negative interactions – ones in which the consumer’s concerns weren’t addressed satisfactorily – can result in reduced sales due to poor word-of-mouth marketing.
Understanding the potential variables that customers encounter, including friction within the conversion funnel, feature usability, and other factors that impact satisfaction, can help prepare agents to offer fast, personalized, and appropriate assistance and boost customer satisfaction.
2. Better Brand Perception
One unhappy customer may not seem like the end of the world, but a study found that your brand will need 40 positive customer experiences to negate the damage that a single negative review causes to your brand. By focusing on the customer and proactively managing concerns during each interaction, agents can solve a brand reputation problem before it manifests.
3. Higher Customer Retention Rates
73% of shoppers in the United States expressed that their experience is a “very important factor” when making a purchasing decision. As a result, 59% of consumers will abandon a brand following multiple poor interactions, while nearly 20% will swap to a competitor following a single negative experience.
How to Create Positive Customer Interactions
Most businesses want to create positive interactions between their customer service representatives and their customers. Even so, the feel-good experiences don’t always happen of their own accord and are often impacted by unexpected variables.
Instead of hoping for the best, the most competitive companies prioritize well-planned customer interaction strategies based on customer information, consumer behavior information, and their own quantitative and qualitative research. To enhance customer interactions within customer service departments with an interaction strategy, consider the following five steps.
1. Greet Your Shoppers
Before beginning each call, email, or live chat, create a consumer interaction checklist to ensure a positive experience. Ensure that each agent:
- Greets the customer
- Provides their name
- Thanks them for reaching out
- Clarifies the question and any necessary information
- Eliminates any negative insinuations
- Reassures the customer that they can respond at their earliest convenience
2. Show Compassion
Though cliche, the Golden Rule still applies during customer interactions. Treat each customer with kindness, patience, and respect. Listen to their concerns, thank them for taking the time to contact your company, and work to find a satisfactory resolution.
3. Deliver Solutions
If a customer reaches out to your business for help, they already display a desire to resolve their complaint, question, or concern. With this in mind, customer service agents can work to provide a satisfactory answer in a timely manner, resulting in a 70% higher likelihood that the customer will remain with the brand.
Designing the Customer Interaction Process in Support Departments
Customer service agents handle hundreds of customer interactions every day, but the seemingly routine communications can make or break customer satisfaction, retention, and approval ratings. As such, it’s crucial to improve customer service performance by developing streamlined customer interaction processes, incorporating effective software platforms, and implementing omnichannel communication systems.
While each company – and customer – has unique needs, the process should focus on providing a favorable resolution for the individual through authentic, honest, and compassionate communication.