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Why Every Customer Interaction Matters (Even Online)

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It’s easy to get complacent when you’re fielding tickets all day. Here’s a reality check.

It’s late.

You’re tired.

Hungry, too.

And you’re just about ready to call it quits for the day.

That’s when the notification pops up: another email. A support ticket from one of your customers.

You’re tempted to phone it in. To just go through the motions, send a few word reply, and not give the email the same level of attention, personalization and enthusiasm that you normally strive to deliver.

Here’s why I hope you reconsider.

Why Every Customer Support Interaction Matters

Think about all of the times you’ve heard a friend, a coworker or even just a random person on social media say something like “[company] doesn’t care about its customers.”

Do you really think that that’s true?

Of course not!

Almost ALL companies care about their customers. And many of the companies being complained about, even in that screenshot above, have also been praised for great customer service.

But these complaints are all the result of a single bad experience.

Now, maybe it might be a case of a customer who was truly wronged, and despite the support team’s best efforts, the customer still felt slighted.

But sometimes, these experiences occur when a support agent simply doesn’t go the extra mile to make (or keep) the customer happy.

A single, solitary experience that results in a customer bashing the entire company’s beliefs.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: so what? Some people just love to complain. It’s probably not the business’ fault.

But guess what?

Those complaints still make an impact.

In fact, one survey by American Express found that angry customers tell, on average, sixteen people about a bad customer experience.

Think of these as “anti-referrals.”

These anti-referrals are important, because we all listen to our friends, family and peers when we consider doing business with a company.

It only takes a single bad report to lose sixteen potential customers.

But at the same time, that AmEx survey found that happy customers will tell nine people about a great experience.

So a single good report could result in nine new leads!

That’s why it’s so important to put in your best effort to make every interaction—every single one—a great one.

How to Make Every Interaction Great

So, let’s say you’re tired, cranky, hungry, frazzled, super-busy or just aren’t feeling it today.

There are many different types of customer service interactions, and in person, it’s a lot easier to suck it up; after all, the customer can see you, and you can see them. Online, it’s a lot more tempting to hide behind your screen with a scowl on your face.

So how do you ensure that you actually put your best foot forward in every interaction?

1) Use a Checklist to Apply Process to Your Customer Interactions

A checklist might seem like a clinical way to approach customer service, but there’s a reason that doctors and pilots trust them: they work.

A customer support interaction checklist can help you ensure that you’re ticking all of the boxes for a positive customer experience, even when you’re not operating at your best.

Check out our customer service checklist, or see below for an abbreviated version:

Customer Service Interaction Checklist

  1. Use their name
  2. Use your name
  3. Thank them for the email
  4. Make sure you understand their request
  5. “ELI5” the solution
  6. Remove negative language
  7. Remove extra words
  8. Proofread
  9. Send!

2) Step Away From the Keyboard and Go Outside

If you’re in a bad mood, one of the best things that you can do is to take a break and go for a walk.

Why?

Walks improve mood and focus.

Three researchers at the University of Michigan conducted an experiment to test the power of breaks.

First, they measured their participants’ mood and focus, followed by 35 minutes of rapid-fire tests designed to create mental fatigue.

Next, the researchers sent the participants on 50-55 minute walks.

One group was sent to nature trails, while the other group walked around downtown.

When the participants returned, they were tested again.

Both groups came back with better mood and focus than when they started, but the group that walked in “nature” showed improvements that were 200% higher than the improvements in the downtown group.

So either way, taking a walk will help, but getting into nature can give you an extra boost.

And most importantly: it helps you avoid doing customer support while angry.

3) Managers: Keep Your Team Happy!

Want your support team to go the extra mile for your customers, every time?

That extra mile requires extra work.

Part of making sure that extra work gets done is hiring amazing customer service employees, and training them well..

The other part is keeping them happy and motivated.

Glassdoor, a career site, asked more than 2,000 people about what motivates them to work harder.

The leading answer?

Appreciation.

In fact, appreciation was cited more than twice as often as the second most common response. 81 percent of employees said that they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work.

And while we might think we’d work harder if we were more appreciated, is it actually true?

Another study suggests that the answer is absolutely.

In 2010, researchers from the Universities of Pennsylvania and North Carolina set out to study the impact of gratitude on people’s behavior.

Participants were asked to give feedback on a fictional student’s (“Eric”) cover letter.

After the feedback was received, the participants got a reply asking for feedback on a second cover letter.

Half of the participants got a straight, to-the-point email with the second request, while the other half got an email expressing gratitude for completing the first review.

The results?

32% of the “No Gratitude” group provided feedback on the second cover letter, while 66% of the “Gratitude” group sent more feedback.

Gratitude more than doubled the response rate.

Gratitude and appreciation don’t just feel good; they can motivate your employees to perform, and you should use it liberally by recognizing their hard work and impact on your business.

Making Every Interaction Count

Customer interaction management is hard work, but I hope I’ve convinced you to commit to making every single interaction count.

We’re all human, we all slip up sometimes, and we all have bad days.

But that doesn’t mean that with a little bit of planning ahead, that you can’t still make every support interaction a great one for your customers.

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About the Author

Len Markidan heads up marketing at Groove. He’s focused on helping startups and small businesses build better relationships with their customers.

Read his latest posts or follow him on Twitter

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