It’s not surprising that customers are becoming more and more informed and in control of their choices and needs.
With thousands and more brands offering them the same products and better offers, customers are at liberty to choose the product or service that best appeals to them. So, why should they choose you over others?
Customer interaction refers to the communications between an organization and its customers.
For some companies, it is the extra effort they have to take to reach out to their customers while for others, it’s an opportunity to connect with their customers and delight them for better opportunities.
Either way, customer interaction is the effort companies need to take to improve customer experience and give them a reason to choose their brand over another.
Above the actual delivery of products or services, a company’s ability to outdo themselves to exceed a customers’ expectations – helping them when they need one, offering them support, etc., can encourage their customers to become more loyal to the brand.
Let’s take a closer look at customer interaction, its importance to your business, and how you can improve customer interactions.
Table of content
- What is Customer Interaction?
- What is Customer Interaction Management?
- Why Customer Interactions are Important to your Business?
- Understanding the Customer Interaction Cycle
- Types of Customer Interactions
- Top Customer Interaction Strategies for 2023
- Why do you need Customer Interaction Software in 2023?
What is Customer Interaction?
Customer interaction is the communication or conversation between a company and its customers. It occurs when either of the two parties – the company or customer tries to reach out to the other to make a complaint, rate service, or initiate a transaction.
Customer interaction comes in many forms. It could be a welcome message, social media interaction, service calls, customer retention, or other forms of communication through a chatbot or live agent chat or calls.
In the past, customer interaction was mostly done by customers to reach out to the companies to place an order or make complaints about the product or service but a lot has changed now with companies constantly competing against competitors to gain the trust and loyalty of their customers.
Considering that every customer interaction is an opportunity for a company to impress the customers and influence their opinion about the company, they have to up their game through quality customer service to exceed customer expectations and encourage customer loyalty.
What is Customer Interaction Management?
Customer interaction management (CIM) is the process of managing a company’s interaction or communications with its respective customers.
It includes all the steps or processes that coordinate how a company manages communications with its customers across a wide range of channels. Usually, companies make use of customer interaction management software to manage their various customer interactions.
Considering that a business has different types of customers – the champions, loyal customers, new customers, and at-risk customers. Marketers, sales teams, and customer support agents must understand the needs, interests, and pain points of these customers to develop the right strategy to treat and communicate with them differently.
Customer interaction management ensures that an organization’s customer interaction helps it earn trust and build product awareness. To achieve this, customer support teams must be properly trained and have the right communication skills to establish a positive customer experience.
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Why are Customer interactions important for your business?
Customer interaction could make all the difference to a customer-company relationship.
Imagine how creating and maintaining a strong relationship with your customers – being there for them, supporting them, and fulfilling all their needs can influence them to stick with your brand and choose it over others.
Aside from this, effective customer interaction can also help your business achieve the following;
1. It will help you understand your customers better
Agile and proactive customer interaction will help you build a strong relationship with your customers and get to know them better. When you constantly stay in touch with your customers, you enable them to be free and honest with you in case of new developments.
By building a positive customer interaction with customers, you will be able to get their opinions on your products, gain insights into their purchasing decisions and understand the factors that influence these decisions.
2. It helps to improve your business performance
A company that maintains active communication with its clients will be able to improve its business performance.
When you are well informed about what your customers like or dislike about your products and the areas you are lagging, you can work on this using the information you have generated to improve your performance and generate more revenue.
3. It helps to convert prospects to customers
A strong and effective customer interaction process will help you improve customer experiences from the get-go and increase the chances of prospects becoming customers much faster.
Let’s be real here, if you have ever received that extra attention and care from a business as a first-time customer, then you would understand why they say “first-time impression matters a lot.”
A good customer interaction strategy that offers value to prospects at the early stage of the sales process gives the prospective customer a good reason to choose your business over another and prompts them to always return.
4. It helps reduce customer churn rates
Customer churn rate is the percentage of customers who have left your service during a specific period – stopped doing business with you.
A robust customer interaction management system will help businesses regularly keep up with their customers, listen to them, and improve their service to meet the expectation of their customers.
Honest and transparent communication with your customers will most likely encourage them to be loyal to your brand.
5. It improves brand loyalty and reputation
As explained earlier, a happy customer is a loyal customer. By constantly interacting with customers and attending to their needs and expectations, you stand a chance of gaining more loyal customers – and gaining brand advocates.
Reputation management is an ongoing process – it takes time to achieve and has to be done repeatedly for customers and the general public to have the right opinion about you.
By creating and maintaining a stable and strong relationship with customers through effective customer service, you can control to some extent what people think and say about your business – hence preserving your reputation.
6. Increases referrals
Referrals are one of the best ways to promote your business. Your customers are key players in referral marketing – help you gain free customers.
When your customers feel good about the service you offer, they take it upon themselves to inform their friends, family, and networks about your business, which increases your chances of gaining new loyal customers.
7. Encourage customer retention
As we have stressed through this article, a happy and satisfied customer is ten times more likely to repeat business with your brand and choose it over another any day, any time.
It is the sense of belonging that you create through positive customer interaction that prompts customers to freely air their opinion, feedback, and feelings about your products and services. Once they feel the connection with your company, retaining them becomes a piece of cake.
8. It helps strengthen the personal connection with customers
In today’s business environment, personal connections with customers are crucial to improving sales, encouraging more customers to become loyal, and promoting your brand image.
By constantly requesting for customer feedback, you can build a personal connection with customers and increase their chances of becoming repeat buyers.
Understanding the customer interaction cycle
Customer interaction is key to brand building and business growth. Customer interaction begins from the earliest stage of the customer journey – from onboarding when they first buy from you to constantly keeping up with them to improve customer loyalty.
Customer interaction is an ongoing process that never ends. It is the communication and relationship you build and maintain with your customers from their first interaction with you to all of their business transactions with you – and this goes on for as long as you can retain them as your customers.
The customer interaction cycle is the process of moving a customer from one stage to another in the sales funnel. Essentially, it involves every interaction you have with your customer at every stage of the customer’s lifecycle.
The stages of the customer interaction cycle
There are five (5) stages in the customer interaction process that every forward-thinking business must fully understand to influence buyer’s decisions.
Stage 1: Awareness
The first stage in the customer lifecycle is the awareness stage. The awareness stage is where a prospect first becomes aware of your business solutions.
It is typically considered the most important stage of the customer lifecycle – it is the stage where they discover your business and learn about your offerings, values, and propositions.
As a result, you have to make sure that every planned interaction or communication with your prospects at this stage is carefully coordinated so that you don’t end up creating the wrong impression of yourself.
You can achieve this in two ways;
- Gather data: For this, you want to ensure that you have up-to-date data about your prospects, their channels of discovery, and goals to understand how to approach them
- Offer value: While you might be tempted to send them all the promotional contents that you have, this is not the time to do so. Instead, give them valuable information and tips that will prompt them to return.
Stage 2: Consideration
In the consideration stage, your customers have gotten all the information they need about your business and your solutions and are likely weighing the pros and cons of choosing you over your competitor by checking how well your product fits their needs or budget.
Either way, this is the time for you to intensify your communication with them to show them what makes your product or services better than your competitors as well as the benefits they stand to gain when they choose you.
Customer-oriented businesses should know by now that offering excellent products to customers is no longer enough to keep them. Effective customer interaction is key to gaining loyal customers.
How can you achieve this?
- Use CRM software to manage all your interactions with your customers to ensure you are not leaving anyone behind.
- Provide them with all the valuable information that you can.
- Offer incentives or discounts to get them to make their purchase decisions much faster.
Stage 3: Conversion
The conversion stage is the third stage where you have successfully moved your prospects to the final stage in the sales cycle – they have studied and compared your products and offering to others and have decided to buy from you.
But note that this does not necessarily mean that they will eventually buy from you – they might have chosen you but have not made the actual purchase. A lot can happen within that short period, and if you are not at the top of your game, you could still lose them to your competitors.
So how can you influence/motivate them to buy from you?
- Reach out to them to facilitate an easy communication process with them. Encourage them to ask you questions while ensuring you respond immediately to them. Note that taking too long to answer them could kill their drive to buy from you.
- Follow up on your customers to understand what could be stopping them from buying from you. Your follow-ups can also remind them about their promise to buy from you.
Stage 4: Retention
Now that you have successfully converted your prospects to buying customers. The next step is to build and maintain a deeper relationship with your customers.
You must understand that the goal of your customer service is never to make a customer buy from you but to retain them and keep them as your customers for as long as you can.
As a result, you must develop a customer interaction strategy that will help you constantly keep up with your customers and ask for their opinions and feedback on your product and service.
You can improve customer retention rates by;
- Providing customers more support and service.
- Personalize your communication with every customer to build a personal connection and relationship with them.
Stage 5: Advocacy
Advocacy is the last stage where customers become so fond of your brand that they become your brand advocates – an individual who promotes your brand through word of mouth.
Usually, your loyal customers who feel happy and satisfied with your products and services take on this role to spread the good news about your company to their connections.
You can encourage brand advocacy by;
- Introducing a loyalty program that rewards customers when they buy from you.
- Create a referral program that rewards customers for introducing new customers to your business.
Types of customer interactions
Now that you understand the importance of customer interactions and the five stages of the customer interaction cycle. Let’s explore the various types of customer interactions that you should consider for your customer interactions.
1. Chat Interactions
Chat interactions are the forms of communication that occurs on a website and are usually the first point of contact with a customer.
These chatboxes welcome prospects to a website, answer some of their questions, or aim to solve a customer problem or complaint faster. Chat interactions are a means of fostering trust and reliability with your customer.
Forms of chat interactions include;
- Chatbots: A chatbot is a programmed virtual assistant that can initiate, process, and simulate conversations with customers like a real person. Chatbots provide first-time visitors or lead with company introductory information.
- AI Chatbots: These are slightly similar to other chatbots but are artificial intelligence-backed chatbots that can communicate with customers and develop first-hand solutions to problems.
- Live chats: are managed by real-life customer support agents who offer more advanced help to customers. They are usually an extension of chatbot interactions.
2. Welcome messages
Welcome messages provide first-time greetings to your website visitors to engage and build a relationship with them. A welcome message could introduce your products or services to the visitors or prospects or provide them with valuable tips or information.
Welcome messages could come in different forms, which include;
- Website welcome messages are welcome messages delivered by a chatbot on a website. These messages warm the new customers to appreciate them for visiting your website or helps to strengthen the bond with returning customers.
- Email welcome messages: are welcome messages sent to introduce your brand to new subscribers and leads. These messages can aim to achieve different objectives – introduce new products, inform them about running promos and discounts or send them valuable information.
- Text welcome messages: are sent via SMS to reach out to your customers and inform them about the new deals and promotions they shouldn’t be missing.
3. Social media interactions
These forms of interaction occur on various social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
Judging by the percentage of the world’s population (58%) that use social media on a day-to-day basis for interactions and a report by HootSuite that businesses and customers exchange over 1 billion messages in a month via Facebook Messenger, it’s not surprising why a lot of businesses are using social media for their customer interactions.
Forms of chat interactions include;
- Comments and DMs inquiries: A lot of the communication between a company and its customers happens in the comment section and DMs – Facebook Messanger, Instagram, Twitter DMs, and WhatsApp messenger. Companies can provide prompt responses and assistance to their customers via DMs and comment sections.
- Response to social mentions: With social media, businesses can respond to inquiries and take note of feedback whenever someone mentions them on social media. The good side of this is that when a person mentions your business, you get alerted immediately.
- Sharing customer-generated content/post: One of the best features of social media interaction is that it allows you to post positive feedback or customer success stories on your page and tag the customer. This can help build your brand image and encourage others to share their stories.
Customer retention interactions
Customer retention interaction refers to all forms of interaction a company engages in to retain their customers and motivate them to be loyal to the brand.
It is an essential part of the customer journey and key to your business’s success and growth.
Customer retention interaction includes;
- Special offer messages: are messages sent to inform your new and returning customers about new promos, offers, and discounts. It is typically done via SMS, email, social media, etc., to encourage repeat buying.
- Renewal notifications: are messages sent to remind subscribers and customers about the renewal date and time. Businesses do this to introduce a new product, feature, or better offers.
- Surveys: are a list of questions sent to customers to get their opinion, review, and feedback about a product or service. It helps you understand what your customer might need and work on it to encourage them to stay with your brand.
Customer service calls
Customer service calls are a form of customer interaction that involves customer service agents calling customers to get their opinion or feedback or inform them about a new product or service.
Forms of customer service calls include;
- Inbound calls: are phone calls made by a customer to a company’s customer service or support team. A customer mostly calls to make an inquiry, report an issue or place an order. Regardless of the reason for the call, inbound calls provide a great opportunity for a company to interact with its customer and build a positive impression.
- Outbound calls are the opposite of inbound calls. In this case, a customer service agent calls the customer to ask about their experience with the company or inform them about a new offering. Either way, it is a great way to build a connection with customers.
Top Customer Interaction Strategies for 2023
Customer interaction is very important for customer-oriented businesses that wish to increase their customer base and business growth.
By now, you should know that good customer interaction is non-negotiable and should never be compromised to help you build a strong relationship with your customers, retain them and increase their purchases.
Let’s dive into the top strategies you should implement to improve customer interactions and connections.
1. Provide Omnichannel customer interactions
Offering omnichannel customer interactions means that your customers can access you from multiple communication channels – social media, text messages, phone calls, emails, and webchat.
Considering that people search for your business from different platforms and also have their preferred means of communication, you can be easily accessible to customers when you are present on multiple channels.
2. Be proactive
Considering the lengthy steps and stages businesses have to go through today to convert a lead to a customer and possibly retain them after-sales, businesses need to be proactive in their communication.
Don’t wait for the customers to reach out to you first, make sure you send the first message to them. If not anything, it helps them feel special and appreciated. Aside from the first-time communication, you must also ensure that you constantly reach out to your customers even after sales to increase customer retention.
3. Make the interaction or communication an ongoing process
The truth is that there’s no timeline or an end date to when you stop interacting with your customers. It is a process that must continue for as long as you wish to keep your customers connected and loyal to your brand.
You must regularly update your customer interaction strategy to improve your weaknesses and increase your strengths.
4. Be transparent
The ultimate goal of customer interaction is to build relationships and foster stronger connections with your customers. You wouldn’t want to ruin this by lying to them or overdoing your promotions.
The key to positive customer interaction is to be transparent and honest with your customers. Tell them the truth about your process, promotions, and product capabilities so that you won’t lose them to your competitors.
5. Humanize your interactions with customers
Ensure that when you interact with your customers, you talk to them and interact with them like a person rather than a bot or a business. Personalize your communication with them and let them feel that they can trust you. Be friendly and helpful, and allow your customers to relate to you as a friend and not just a business that is only interested in getting their money.
6. Be deliberate about building a relationship with your customers
To build a relationship and strong connection with your customers, you have to put in the extra effort. This is not something you leave to chance but build a well-developed strategy on how you intend to reach out to your customers and your aims for doing that.
Gather all the relevant information about your customers, and know their names, pain points, and interests to understand how best you can communicate with them.
7. Be very responsive and prompt about feedback
Customers’ feedback and reviews should never be ignored when you are serious about maintaining positive customer interactions.
One of the reasons for customer interaction is to improve customer experiences and foster mutually beneficial relationships with your customers. Without their feedback, this will be difficult to achieve. So, by responding to their feedback on time, you can identify the lapses in your product or services and work on them to improve customer experience and business performance. Check out some sales-related guides, sales productivity, sales prospecting, B2B sales process and sales qualified leads.
Why do you need customer interaction software in 2023?
The use of customer interaction management software is the key to fostering stronger and more positive customer interaction in 2023.
There are numerous benefits of using customer interaction software. It will help you improve customer service, keep up with emerging trends, leverage new social media features for customer interaction, and increase your presence across multiple channels and increase engagement.
5 Best Customer interaction software in 2023?
If you are looking to improve your customer interaction this year, consider the following tools.
1. Help desk Software
It helps centralize all your customer interactions and handle support requests from multiple channels like email, live chat, social media, and phone.
2. Shared Inbox Software
It is an email tool that enables multiple people – customer service agents to access and respond to messages sent to an email address.
3. Phone support software
It helps customer support agents to manage phone-based customer interactions.
4. Knowledge base software
It is a tool that helps customer service/support agents to create, store, organize, manage, and share self-service content – FAQ pages, video tutorials, and how-to articles – with their customers.
5. Live chat support software
This tool helps manage live chat support interactions with customers on the website.
Customer Interaction is your ultimate key to success
In 2023, you can’t establish a business without being customer-centric. Your customers are your company’s livewire, without them, your business cannot exist.
For your business success, you must develop an effective customer interaction strategy to manage customer interactions across multiple channels. You must also consider every interaction with your leads, new customers, and existing customers as an opportunity to impress your customers and make them loyal to your brands.
Effective customer interaction is key to building and sustaining a successful business and strong customer relationships.