Interactions are the small building blocks of relationships. Over time, the quality of interactions defines how committed people feel to the relationship. The same dynamic holds for customers and brands. In a world where nearly 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them, each interaction is a chance to either build trust or disappointment.
For many companies, the main arena for customer interactions is the customer service function. Service reps that can quickly review all customer interactions on a case in a single view format can provide reassuring interactions and build trust.
Let’s look more closely at customer interactions, why they are important, and how companies can optimize this opportunity to build customer loyalty.
What Is a Customer Interaction?
What a customer interaction is seems obvious at first – it is any time a customer has contact or communication with a company. Customer interactions are important to businesses because they can track them to set benchmarks, pinpoint trouble spots in customer engagement, and compare performance.
From the customer’s point of view, their interactions with your company are steps along their customer journey with you. Customer interactions happen across many channels – email, SMS, voice calls, messaging apps, chat, and social media.
One challenge for companies is that problems usually prompt customers to contact the company. Very few customers call customer service or hang out on chat just to pass the time or give kudos.
Except for opportunities for positive interaction, like contests or events, most customer interactions are likely to be with the help desk or customer service function.
Interactions between the customer and help desk experiences and agents are the building blocks of the customer relationship. To keep customers happy, companies need to consider a proactive approach to customer interaction management.
What Is Customer Interaction Management?
Customer interaction management (CIM) systems are software that coordinates, documents, and organizes customer communication across multiple channels. CIM done right is important because it defines the quality of the customer experience. Good CIM can lead to more loyal customers and less customer attrition.
Picture how employees feel if their manager is unorganized, lets details fall through the cracks, is not attentive, doesn’t remember details, can’t find important documents, and doesn’t remember facts about individual employees. You can imagine those employees are spending their lunch hour on job search websites looking for other jobs!
The dynamic is the same for your customers. Companies with good CIM practices have a single location for customer information. This single view helps service agents glean context and personalize the interactions. The agents don’t have to pass the customer back and forth between departments because they can collaborate as a team.
Why Is It Important to Have a Single Place to Manage Customer Interactions?
The reason it is so important to have a single place to manage customer interactions is so that the agent can provide efficient, personalized service to customers. When there is an organized system that makes it easy to refer to client details, agents can deliver a frictionless experience.
Friction is any point in the customer’s journey with a company where they hit a snag that slows them down or causes dissatisfaction. Frictionless customer service is important because it influences all the main revenue touchpoints – customer lifetime value (CLV), revenue, referral reputation, and customer churn.
Accessing context is another benefit of CIM. When agents can access all the customer interaction history in one place, they can quickly understand the context of the call. Context is very important because it helps the agent deliver a personalized experience for the customer.
A single place to manage customer interactions also helps agents deliver consistent service across all channels. Just like in friendships and romance, consistency builds trust, a critical component to increasing customer loyalty.
Three benefits of managing customer interactions in one place include more personalized experiences, reducing back and forth for customers, and better team collaboration.
Personalization is very important to customer retention. Around 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. Even more important is that 76% experience frustration when they feel the interaction is not personalized. Personalization affects the bottom line, too. Companies that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenue from those activities than average players. (source: McKinsey)
Ways to personalize the experience include:
- Help customers help themselves
While it may not seem very personalized at first glance, a personalized self-service experience can create a satisfied customer without taking up any service agent’s time.
People like to try to solve their problems without contacting an agent. In fact, the Harvard Business Review points out that 81% of all customers try to take deal with their problems themselves before reaching out to a service agent.
- Be available across channels
Some customers don’t want to call customer service. Perhaps they prefer to use chat. Other customers would rather interact with a company via familiar social channels. When the company can provide personalized options across multiple channels, they reduce friction and increase customer satisfaction.
Regardless of where the experience unfolds, personalized customer service is important because it increases customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Increased loyalty results in higher customer retention, reducing expensive churn and increasing the customer lifetime value (CLV).
For an example of personalization in action, check out our case study for MercadoLead.
Reduce Back and Forth
As any auto mechanic or chef knows, the staging of tools, information, and team communication can make or break an experience and results. In customer service, disorganized information that is scattered throughout a company’s backend system makes it difficult to create a seamless experience.
One common frustration is customer back and forth, spending time on hold, in the wrong place, or being transferred to a new person who doesn’t know the case history. This situation is frustrating for customers and employees.
The ability to clearly communicate and reassure the customer that you understand the context of their issue can go a long way toward reducing customer back and forth. When the CIM system captures all the interactions in one place, customer runaround disappears, and customer satisfaction surges.
Collaborate as a Team
Customers want to be able to get help for their issues on their schedule. They may call back on different days and times. Customers may have multiple issues over time, too. A central place to manage all customer interactions allows your employees to collaborate as a team to meet customer needs.
Sometimes the answer to a customer’s questions is answered in another department or with a vendor. In the past, support expertise was difficult to access in real-time. Kayako’s Collaborators feature allows customer service agents to access other experts and stakeholders inside and outside the company to report back to the customer with the most current information possible.
Over time, the CIM system builds on valuable first-party customer data that teams can use going forward to keep the customer experience consistent, even if team members change.
Pulling It All Together
Managing customer interactions in one place is a single decision that yields powerful benefits for customer relationship management. Great CIM software includes features to wrangle all customer interactions into one dashboard, streamline team collaboration, and tools to increase efficiency and reduce back and forth.
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