Every time your brand communicates with a customer, you’re interacting.
Customer interactions go far beyond the support emails you send or phone calls you field. These days, customers interact with companies in online forums and on Instagram.
Yep, these customer interactions happen all the time. And, these interactions matter. After all, we live in a time where customers care deeply about how brands interact with them. According to Salesforce, 80% of customers place the same emphasis on customer service as they do on product quality.
As an ecommerce brand, you want to make sure that each and every interaction creates positive vibes. If you do, customers will be more likely to sing your praises to friends and family, as well as on sites like Facebook, Quora, and Reddit.
But how do you create amazing customer experiences that empower your customers? In this guide, we’re sharing…
- Why Customer Interactions Are So Important
- The Customer Interaction Lifecycle
- Handling Different Types of Customer Interactions
- 10 Tips for Creating Amazing Customer Interactions
Why Customer Interactions Are So Important
When a customer contacts a company, they want to be heard. They want to feel as though you’re listening to their question, complaint, or suggestion.
Providing customers with positive interactions encourages them to keep coming back to your brand. This is essential, as it costs businesses roughly 6x more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs.
Positive customer interactions also encourage customers to share their experience with friends, family, and the rest of the world. When they feel warmly towards a brand– like they’re being seen, heard, and understood– they’re more likely to share their experiences on social media.
For example, Quinn Conyers shared her positive experience with a Johnson & Johnson product on LinkedIn, noting that the company read her thoughts by creating a Band-Aid in her skin tone.
Today’s customers can communicate with your company through an ever-increasing number of channels. It’s your job to make sure these interactions go well. How could Johnson & Johnson respond to Quinn to further the positivity?
The Customer Interaction Lifecycle
To understand how to best interact with your customers (or even potential customers), you have to understand the customer interaction lifecycle. This five-stage lifecycle illustrates what should happen during each customer interaction. Think of it as best practices to implement for your business.
- Saying Hello
First things first! When a customer contacts you, you need to greet them. A warm, welcoming “hello” goes a long way in starting the interaction off on the right foot.
Here are a few examples of ways to say hello:
- Hi [FIRST NAME]! Happy to hear from you. How can I help?
- Hi, I’m [NAME]. What can I help you with today?
- Hi! Thanks for contacting [COMPANY NAME]. How can I assist you?
Once you’ve greeted the customer, it’s time to understand why they’re contacting you. This is a time where you are trying to understand how the customer feels, as well as collecting factual information about the situation. Usually, a customer will explain their issue, and you will need to ask more questions to understand exactly what’s happening.
Here are a few questions you can ask to gain a deeper understanding:
- Can you tell me more about that?
- Do you have any idea why this happened?
- Can you walk me through the steps you took to try to solve this issue?
Once you’ve collected all the information you need, be sure to repeat that information back to the customer. Say “From what I understand,” and then explain what’s going on to make sure you’re on the same page.
Now that you and your customer are on the same page, it’s time to propose a solution to their problem. Sometimes, a customer may ask for something that isn’t possible. That’s ok. Be transparent about what you can’t do, and then focus on the things you can.
When you’re proposing a solution, you might say:
- We can’t offer [free return shipping], but we can offer you a [20% off code for your next purchase.]
- Right now, we are happy to offer you…
- I’m happy to send you a [PRODUCT]. Would that solution work for you?
After proposing an agreed-upon solution, it’s time to deliver that solution. In this stage of the customer interaction lifecycle, you’ll want to prioritize clarity. You need to be as clear as possible about what’s going to happen so the customer isn’t left with any lingering confusion.
Here are a few things you can say to make sure you’re clarifying:
- Now that we’ve agreed, I’ll send a discount code to your email address. I have email@example.com on file. Is that the correct email address?
- To make sure you have everything you need, I’m going to…
- You can expect to receive the product in the mail within the next 5-7 business days.
- Saying Goodbye
Now that the customer’s issue has been resolved, it’s time to say goodbye to the customer. Don’t skip this part! A warm goodbye is essential as it ensures that the interaction ends positively.
When you’re saying farewell, it’s a good idea to remind the customer that you’ll continue to be there for them, even after they hang up. If you’ll be surveying your customer about the interaction, you might use the opportunity to remind them that they’ll be receiving a survey within the next several minutes.
Here are a few things you can say as you’re saying goodbye:
- It was really nice to chat with you today, [FIRST NAME], and I’m glad we were able to resolve your issue. Is there anything else I can help you with?
- Thanks so much for contacting [COMPANY NAME]. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch again.
- It was really nice to chat with you today! If you’ve had a positive experience, please share it in the survey– it will appear in the chatbox after I sign off.
By making sure that each customer interaction fulfills each of these steps, you’ll be more likely to create positive interactions. It is especially important that you gain a deep understanding of where customers are coming from so that you can propose the right solution– and then deliver it.
Handling Different Types of Customer Interactions
When a customer contacts your company, they want things to go well. If they have an issue, they hope to get it resolved. If they have a suggestion, they hope it is taken seriously. And if they are sharing praise, they hope it will be appreciated.
Essentially, when customers interact with your brand, they want to be heard. Here is some advice on how to handle different types of customer interactions:
When a customer asks a question, make sure that you understand exactly what they’re asking before offering up an answer. Ask more questions to make sure you understand, and be sure to state the question back to the customer to make sure you’re both on the same page.
Once you understand the question, do your best to answer it as honestly and kindly as possible. If a customer needs assistance, walk them through their problem or direct them to helpful resources. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know– you can always tell a customer that you’ll look into something and get back to them– just make sure you actually look into it and follow up.
Sometimes, a customer complains about your product or services. Perhaps they’re unhappy with a policy, are disappointed with the products, or aren’t having a good experience on your website.
When it comes to fielding a complaint, the first step is to make sure the customer feels heard. Make sure you tell the customer that you understand why they are upset. Then, you can work to resolve their issue using the steps in the customer interaction lifecycle.
For more information on managing difficult complaints, we recommend our guide to handling angry and difficult customers.
Customers often contact companies because they have an idea for how the products could be better. They’ve noticed that something is lacking– and they’re ready to offer up their suggestions.
It doesn’t matter whether you think a customer’s suggestion is good or not. Be sure to take it seriously. Ask them why they are making the suggestion and tell them where their suggestion will go. Be specific. If all customer suggestions go directly to the product team, make sure you’re sharing this info with the customer.
Praise is an awesome reason to hear from a customer. They’re so happy with your product and the overall experience with your brand that they’re contacting you to say so.
These interactions generally start positively, and it’s your job to keep the positive vibes flowing. It’s a good idea to set aside discount codes or special gifts for customers who offer praise. Be sure to record the praise as well so that you can share it with the rest of the company.
10 Tips for Creating Amazing Customer Interactions
Now that we’ve defined why customer interactions are so important, shared the customer interaction lifecycle, and described a few different types of interactions, it’s time to learn how to create amazing customer interactions. Here are 10 tips:
- Consider each and every customer interaction
A customer interaction occurs any time you communicate with a customer.
Some of these interactions will be obvious. For example, when a customer contacts you for support/
But interactions between a brand and a customer happen even when customer support agents aren’t there. When someone visits your website, they’re interacting with your brand. When they use your product, they’re interacting, too.
If you want to create amazing customer interactions, you need to consider each and every time you communicate with customers. For example, a customer was so delighted by the copy on her shampoo bottle that she shared it on Reddit. This copy on the product package is a clever way to interact with a customer.
- Create a go-to customer interaction guide for your team
You need to be consistent if you want to create amazing customer interactions. You can’t rely on one all star support agent to carry the whole team.
Instead, you need to systematize how you interact with customers, preferably by creating a go-to customer interaction guide. Such a guide will include:
- Information on brand language (i.e. our goal is to sound friendly, approachable, and smart.)
- Examples of go-to phrases and scripts
- Resources on how to create amazing interactions (like this guide!)
- Delight your customers whenever possible
Think about how you can delight your customers when you interact with them.
Delight is different from satisfaction. A satisfied customer has gotten what they need. But a delighted customer is over-the-moon about how a company has gone out of their way to make their life easier, more interesting, or more fun.
For example, Chewy.com is known for sending flowers and gifts when they learn of the passing of a beloved pet. This goes above and beyond what a customer would expect from the place where they buy their dog food. It shows that Chewy.com is invested in their family and understands the pain of their loss.
- Prioritize stellar customer support
Customers that contact your support team are particularly vulnerable. Most of the time, they’re contacting you because they have an issue that needs to be resolved. And most of the time, this is one of the only times where you’ll get to interact with your customers one-on-one. That’s why it’s essential to prioritize stellar customer support.
For more information on providing stellar customer support, check out:
- Dealing with Angry and Difficult Customers as a Customer Support Agent
- Online Chat Support 101: Your Guide to Live Chat Support For Businesses and Employees
- Customer Service Trends for 2022 and Beyond
- Ask for feedback – then take action
Every customer interaction is an opportunity to get information. Don’t miss it! When you’re interacting with customers, make sure to ask for feedback. Ask questions like:
- Are our products working for you?
- Is there anything we can do as a company to make your experience better?
- Was it easy for you to contact us today? Why or why not?
Once you have this feedback, make sure to organize it so that it can be shared internally. Then, take action. If customers give you negative feedback about a certain product, consider changing that product or updating the product description to better reflect what the product does.
- Measure the experience
It’s easier than ever to measure customer interactions. Every time you interact with a customer, you can ask them how they feel about the communication.
For example, if you’re using live chat to talk with a customer, an automatic survey can populate to ask the customer how they feel about the conversation.
- Be transparent
Customers don’t like when things are opaque, and they absolutely hate being lied to. When you aren’t sure what to say, air on the side of transparency.
For example, if a customer wants a product that’s not on the current roadmap, don’t pretend that it is. Rather, share that it isn’t on the current road map, but that you will pass their suggestion on to the product team.
- Use friendly, approachable language
When a customer contacts a brand, they don’t want to be bombarded with formal jargon. They want to interact with a human being. Don’t put on a fake professional voice. Instead, act as though you are speaking with a colleague or friend.
For example, Slack used friendly and approachable language when releasing a product update. They took an interaction that is usually straightforward and turned it into something delightful. People noticed! Screenshots of the product update were shared on Instagram and Twitter.
- Get to know your customers – then deliver
If you want to provide truly amazing customer interaction, then you need to get to know your customers. Who are they? What matters to them? Why did they buy from you in the first place?
Once you have a good idea of who your customers are, you’ll be better positioned to provide them with personalized interactions that are delightful.
This can be as simple as using a customer’s first name when you talk to them, or as complex as knowing their favorite candy– then sending it their way.
- Back your efforts with robust customer interaction software
Today’s software solutions make your job much easier. To provide top-notch customer interactions, you’ll want to make sure you have software that supports your efforts. Here are some types of software to consider:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
- Customer Support Software
- Email Marketing Software
- Customer Survey Software
Win Them Over With Amazing Customer Interactions
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business, so every interaction should be positive. If you prioritize customer interactions, you’ll be well on your way to delighting customers so that they keep coming back.