Save up to 32% with Pipedrive’s annual plan. Sign up for free.

Delight customers and grow your business: Why customer interaction management is vital

Customer Interaction Management
Topics
What is customer interaction management?
The benefits of customer interaction management
Types of customer interactions
How to improve every customer interaction
What to look for in customer interaction management software
Delight your customers with better interaction management

Good customer communication is an important factor in your business success. If your customers walk away from a call or email interaction dissatisfied, chances are they won’t come back, meaning you’ll have to spend more money bringing in fresh leads.

To gain new customers and turn current buyers into brand loyalists, you need to ensure every customer experience is an excellent one.

In this article, we’ll go over what customer interaction management is and why it’s so important. We’ll also share best practices for boosting the quality of every interaction.


What is customer interaction management?

Customer interaction management (CIM) is the way a business handles its communications with everyone from prospective leads to repeat customers across its communication channels.

If you’ve ever spoken with a chatbot to resolve an issue, that’s part of a CIM strategy. Comments on an official Twitter page, customer complaints, brand demos and more all fall under the category of customer interaction management.

CIM encompasses all of a brand’s touchpoints. So, anywhere you engage your audience should be part of your CIM strategy.

Customer interactions have a big impact on customer experience. These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing.

Customer interactions are any communications your brand has with a customer. That can include anything from a phone call to an Instagram comment to a chatbot and beyond. Customer interactions happen along every step of the customer journey.

The customer experience, on the other hand, is the sum total of those interactions. It’s how someone feels about their interactions with your brand.

How you handle customer interactions dictates the customer experience.

CIM vs. CRM Software

CIM and CRM (customer relationship management) are similar but not interchangeable.

You can think of CIM as the “front of house” part of the business. It’s the strategy around how you handle and improve all your communication with prospective buyers, leads and existing customers. You can liken it to the person who greets you when you walk into a store.

CRM is the “back of house” aspect. It’s a system for managing and analyzing your whole relationship with a customer, from contact details to customer service interactions to purchase history.

Your CIM strategy is part of your overall customer relationship management strategy.

CRM software can help with customer interaction optimization by maintaining an ongoing record of all your communication. It also collects and analyzes data from those interactions to help you understand your customers better.

Both will help you nurture relationships with leads and customers.


The benefits of customer interaction management

Here are a few of the reasons customer interaction management is so important for your company.

Reduced churn

Handling your interactions well will help you form lasting customer relationships. When people are happy with their experience, they’ll stick around for the long haul, refer you to friends and loved ones and swear by your customer service on review platforms like Google and Trustpilot.

Repeat customers mean a better bottom line. According to a CallMiner survey in 2020, businesses lose over $35 billion per year from avoidable customer churn.

CIM can help you build customer loyalty to form a consistent customer base.

Better understanding of customer pain points.

The right strategy for engaging with your target audience will help you understand them better. As you track metrics around customer calls and satisfaction, you’ll be able to see patterns in their needs and frustrations.

When support agents are trained to actively listen to customers, they’ll get more complete information about obstacles or product flaws.

Understanding where your audience is experiencing pain will help you address it more quickly. You can even anticipate concerns and resolve them before they become painful. All of which will elevate the customer experience.

A more engaged customer community

When you approach interactions with a strategy, you’ll be more likely to keep up with communication across all your channels. You’ll have a plan for when and how to reach out to leads and keep conversations ongoing.

For instance, with some forethought, you can make casual interactions on social media channels more regular.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation does a great job of this with its X (formerly Twitter) account. The organization mixes memes and jokes with genuinely useful information on local wildlife.

Because the content they share is delivered like a normal human and not an institution, people find it easier to engage with. Shares, comments, likes and, therefore, customer reach are all higher.


Types of customer interactions

Common types of customer interaction include:

  • Requests: When customers who use the product contact you asking you to take some sort of action (for example, asking you to add new features to the product). Requests are a useful way to learn about pain points.

  • Complaints: When someone encounters a big enough problem with a product to bring it up with your team. Complaints can be opportunities to identify common flaws in your products or processes.

  • Compliments: When satisfied customers take the time to compliment your brand. These interactions are prime opportunities to thank the person for their business and ask them to leave a good review.

  • Questions: When people reach out to learn something about your product or service. Questions are good opportunities to figure out where there are gaps in your current product communications (e.g., what questions are your current product or marketing communications not answering?).


How to improve every customer interaction

The customer interaction cycle, also known as the buyer’s journey or customer journey, consists of five stages:

  1. Awareness – encountering the product/service for the first time

  2. Evaluation – investigating the product to see if it meets their needs

  3. Investment – purchasing the product

  4. Retention – getting support and follow-up from the brand, as well as offers to buy upgraded or complementary products

  5. Advocacy – sharing their positive experience with friends, family and followers

Customer interactions happen at every stage of the journey. Be prepared to instigate and handle communication for each scenario.

For instance, if someone contacts you with a problem in the post-purchase stage, it’s usually not the right time to try and upsell them on something else. Focus on determining the cause and finding a solution instead.

To optimize your interaction and minimize problems, be proactive in your customer interaction management strategy. Here are seven tips for managing interactions and making them successful.

1. Train your reps well

Your customer reps should be prepared to handle all types of customer interactions across channels. This will ensure your customers have a consistent experience across all their communications. Which in turn will build trust with your brand.

Give your team opportunities for continued learning and growth.

Offer training in active listening and de-escalation techniques. Have regular meetings where they can discuss procedures and difficult situations and decide how best to handle them going forward. Host workshops where they can learn new techniques and make sure they have support when applying them in the field.

Ensuring people know they can count on your team for professional and effective interactions increases the chances they’ll be happy and loyal customers.

2. Make sure your teams talk to each other

Ensure important customer communication information is accessible across departments. Information siloing can lead to confusion and ultimately frustrate the customer.

A good CRM helps by storing records of phone calls, emails and other interactions all in one place. It also lets team members share information via a built-in messenger.

Teams should also share information about policies and procedures. For instance, if it takes four days for your repair team to complete a request, make sure your customer support reps don’t tell a customer it will only take two.

3. Create a knowledge base

Ensure efficient interactions by giving people self-service resources to solve their problems when possible.

A robust knowledge base includes things like how-to videos, in-depth explainer articles, product documentation, user manuals and a detailed FAQ section. These can all help your customers find answers on their own.

Make your knowledge base searchable so they can narrow down the content immediately with a few keywords.

Note that you should still make it easy for customers to contact your support team if they can’t find the answers themselves.

4. Use chatbots to automate simple customer interactions

For common questions that are simple to answer, consider using a chatbot. It’ll save you and the customer time, boosting customer satisfaction and employee productivity.

A chatbot can supply immediate responses based on keywords and phrases the user enters. Less time spent waiting for answers means a better customer experience.

It can also route the interaction to the right person if the request is too complex for the chatbot to handle.

Filtering out the easier inquiries and only passing on those that need an actual customer support rep is great for your productivity. It frees up time so your team can focus on bigger issues like building customer relationships.

5. Deliver a more personalized customer experience

Making your interactions customer-specific helps provide a positive customer experience. Ignoring this advice can lead to unhappy customers.

According to a study by McKinsey & Company, most consumers expect personalization from the brands they interact with and 75% get frustrated when they don’t get it.

For instance, it can be annoying for a customer to receive an email trying to sell them a product they just bought. It feels cold and impersonal and gives the impression the business just sees them as a number.

Ensure personalized experiences by keeping track of where people are in the customer journey, then make sure your emails and other interactions reflect that.

Using people’s names in the body of an email is another small, simple way to personalize – even if the email itself is automated. Similarly, if a rep is talking on the phone or via live chat, they can take the time to learn and use their name.

Whatever the channel, take an extra second to personalize.

6. Engage customers on their favorite platforms

Don’t try to create and maintain a profile on every social media channel just to get more customer engagement – that’s a full-time job in itself. Instead, choose a few relevant platforms that you know your target audience uses. And engage with them through those platforms regularly.

This will make your brand more visible to the right audiences. It will also improve your interactions by letting you engage them more frequently and more meaningfully.

For instance, an independent artist who knows buyers are drawn to visual social media platforms might use Instagram to share their work, interact with their fanbase and take commissions.

A travel business can get listed on TripAdvisor where they’re more likely to be found by prospective leads. They can then monitor and respond to reviews.

Social media is a more informal communication channel than email, so may be a better place to build stronger relationships.

7. Collect feedback

Customer interaction management is an iterative process. You should constantly be collecting information and feedback from customers to see what works and what doesn’t.

You can get useful feedback by collecting and analyzing data or by asking your customers directly about their experiences.

Identify choke points, weaknesses and patterns that could be interfering with customer satisfaction. Are interactions on Twitter lagging? Why? Which of your emails has the highest open rate?

Customer satisfaction surveys and reviews can be valuable sources of information you can get because they’re direct feedback on your product and experience from the person who bought it.

This might look like sending out an email survey as a follow-up to customers who buy a new product. Social media is a more informal communication channel than email, so may be a better place to get people’s unfiltered opinions. You can create polls, share multimedia content and answer people’s questions directly.

Some tips on collecting feedback:

  • Two-way messaging like live chat, Facebook messenger or SMS text is the quickest way to get feedback in real time and assess customer needs while they’re most engaged

  • Respond to people’s messages as quickly as you can

  • If you’re getting negative feedback, validate the customer’s experience, then help them find a solution that genuinely corrects the issue

  • Go over customer feedback about interactions as a team to see what works and what doesn’t

Look at data regularly to find patterns and spot problems early. Use the information and feedback to understand your consumers and improve future interactions.


What to look for in customer interaction management software

The right tools can drastically improve your customer interaction management strategy. Consider the following features when you’re on the hunt for software.

Email integration and automation

Email is still a key form of communication. A good CRM will integrate with email platforms to sync multiple inboxes and track all your email customer interactions.

This helps your team stay on top of interactions by ensuring they have all the relevant information at their fingertips when they engage with customers.

Integrations often include templates and automations. These can help produce repetitive messages like thank-yous, purchase receipts and customer onboarding quickly.

Good email integration also includes email-adjacent tasks like scheduling and document management that would normally require separate apps. Scheduling features can cut back on the time and effort you spend putting together sales calls and demos.

Data collection and analytics

Your team needs a way to keep track of all the customer data they take in. A CRM can gather this information in one place and produce detailed reports to help you spot the patterns in the data.

These reports can be tailored to your needs. For instance, if you want to improve the effectiveness of your contact center agents, you can look at how long each call lasts and how many customers are satisfied with how their calls were resolved.

Use the data to find helpful patterns. For example, you may notice that calls resolved within a certain time window are more likely to be rated as positive by a customer. This will give reps an idea of how long their calls should generally be.

Integrations

The best CIM software for your company will integrate with the tools you use most often. Connecting your top tech will help your team work more efficiently as they manage all their interactions in one place.

Some popular integrations for customer interaction management include:

The more integrations your system supports, the more flexibility you have.

Interaction tracking

Having all the relevant data about past and ongoing interactions will help you serve customers more efficiently and more effectively.

Email tracking and communications ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Having all the data about how and when you’re communicating with customers and leads helps you stay in contact, reach out at the right times and build brand awareness.

More effective communication means a better user experience, higher customer retention and more closed deals.

Customer segmentation

Making sure the right messages get to the right people at the right time is a lot easier when you’re using software that segments your customers into groups.

The criteria for that grouping – by demographic, geography, income and so on – is up to you, but if you aren’t already doing this, you should be. To see why, let’s return to our earlier example of automated customer emails.

We talked earlier about not sending a product ad email to someone who’s already bought your product. Segmentation helps make sure that doesn’t happen, especially when you segment people by where they are in the customer journey.

With email and market segmentation, you’ll be able to send the right message to the right people at the right time.


Delight your customers with better interaction management

From first contact to after the sale, chances to increase customer satisfaction happen at every point in the buyer journey.

Active listening, empathy, and excellent problem-solving are all important parts of the puzzle. Pair those skills with the right tools and your business can more than meet customer expectations – it can become a customer service powerhouse.

Looking for a platform that meets your CIM needs? Try Pipedrive for free with a 14-day trial.

Share your thoughts with our Community

Start or continue the conversation with like-minded sales and marketing professionals on our Community.

Join our Community