Some companies are a natural when it comes to communicating with their customers. They’re attractive, pleasant, interesting… but are they memorable? They may be the life of the party, but are they gaining customers that trust and value them? Are they making more than just acquaintances – but, rather, loyal customers?
A meaningful customer experience can be achieved by acquiring people skills that individuals must use in real life to create lasting relationships. Below is a simple list of engagement rules that can be applied not only to our personal relationships, but to enterprises that want to build a solid customer foundation. They can utilize these rules not only in their live chat programs, but also in virtual assistance and outbound communications.
- Use their love language. Relationships are much more successful when each other’s love language is spoken. Each party receives communication in a way they understand and appreciate. Customer relationships should operate on the same principle. Understand how your customers prefer to engage with you, whether via self-service guides, virtual assistance, live chat, mobile, or a combination. Furthermore, within that engagement, study the nuances that are specific to the channel – for example, customers engaging through mobile chat will be using short, simple sentences to communicate because of the small typing space, and would appreciate the same in response due to less screen space for reading on the go.
- Always remember a face. Don’t you feel important when someone remembers your name and something specific about you? When the customer comes back for a subsequent purchase, let them know that you remember them by offering deals that are relevant to the customer’s history. Showing them generic ads they have not shown interest in can turn them away. A good memory (made possible with customer data) makes your personalization efforts more meaningful, even in outbound communications.
- Talk about the weather. OK, maybe not. But real-time, location-based customer data should give you a good picture of where that customer is, and you can market to them accordingly. If the customer is in Boston in the middle of a snow storm, perhaps an apparel company would offer a special on scarves, or a telemedia company would proactively offer a free streaming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy for a snowed-in family hunkered by the fireplace.
- Be a good listener. People know you value their words when you ask them polite, probing questions, listen to their answers, and respond appropriately. In customer relationships, agents should actively listen to what’s at the core of their customer’s issue or search. And whether interacting through live chat, virtual assistance or self-serve guides, customers should be able to voice their opinion through surveys, customer forums, or social media. Pay attention and take the opportunity to improve.
- Be consistent. Nothing is more irritating in a real-life conversation than when a person contradicts what they said in a previous conversation – unless that conversation is between a customer and your company! Customers don’t care if one conversation was on their lap top and another is on their smartphone; they consider both to be part of the same interaction. Your customers’ omni-channel world-view expects nothing less than to receive the same engagement across all the channels they use for a particular purchase. Eliminate those silos that don’t communicate with each other!
What kind of people skills does your company have? How effective is your customer engagement strategy at making your customers feel valued? Applying these engagement rules can help in creating meaningful interactions, thereby building loyal customers.