The Importance of Every Customer Interaction in B2B
I have been working to become more mindful of the value of understanding the importance of every customer interaction. On the surface it sounds like a no-brainer. Anyone who has an interaction with a customer should be on their best behavior and dedicated to ensuring the customer is treated with respect and is the recipient of a great experience.
As we know, however, this is not always how things play out. Sometimes we get lazy when managing customers. We can take our customers for granted and in doing so we can forget that we are really on the clock 24/7 for our customers. Managing at scale is hard, too. For a Customer Success team, juggling the volume of relationships and conversations can become cumbersome and overwhelming. It may not be poor behavior or even intentional, it may just be a lack of understanding that every interaction leaves an impression with the customer.
There is a ‘spectrum of interaction’ when working with our customers. We deploy segmentation strategies across the customer base and leverage a variety of engagement techniques from tech-touch to high-touch. Across the spectrum we must remember that every touchpoint leaves an impression with our customers. Customers are busy. We should never assume that our contacts are solely focused on their supplier relationships. Like all of us, they are balancing various responsibilities against many stakeholders. We must understand that our time with customers is limited and we have to take advantage of every opportunity we get to leave a great impression. It is our job to ensure they have what they need when they need it to allow them to have the opportunity to achieve their desired business outcomes. It is also important to remember perception is reality and relatively speaking we do not get that much time with our customers. We must take full advantage of all of our interactions.
Here are three things to remember when interacting with your customers:
- Be In The Moment
There is a lot to be said about being present when having conversations with other people. Giving your all out attention to the interaction benefits all parties and the outcome is typically greater when focus exists. This is extremely important when working with customers. We must realize that our time with customers can be short and in order to optimize that time we must pay full attention to the conversation. We all know how important listening is and we should be mindful of its role when interacting with customers. I also suggest thinking about what happens when you are not present in the moment. Assignments can be missed, confusion can be created and things can get out of whack in a hurry. Be in the moment and your customer work will improve.
2. Ask Why
I believe it’s a best practice to always ask ‘why.’ It is important to truly understand the questions and concerns of your customers. Oftentimes it is necessary to go two or three layers deeper after the initial question. If you can get to the root cause of their question you will be better prepared to offer the appropriate solution. This can apply to short term scenarios and also long term strategy. Asking ‘why’ can be the catalyst to fully understanding your customer’s needs and desired outcomes.
3. Always Think Alignment
When you think about it, alignment is a critical part of the customer relationship equation. Without it things can get complicated in an hurry. It’s imperative that all customer facing roles keep this top of mind consistently. One poor conversation can result in mis-alignment and then you are in recovery mode. Multiple conversations that have loose ends or include confusion can be even worse as it can lead you on an path that can be difficult if not impossible to recover from. You can argue that this is one of the hardest aspects of managing a customer and with this we should be working very hard to do everything we can to maintain alignment with our customers.
One poor conversation can result in mis-alignment and then you are in recovery mode.
We can also take inspiration from B2C companies that understand the importance of every interaction. Think about your favorite restaurant or hotel and it’s likely that they deliver great customer service and thus a great experience. This great experience is a direct result of the organization’s management understanding the importance of every interaction. On the flip side, think about the last time you had a poor experience. It is likely because the employee(s) you encountered did not deliver on the interaction. They left something to be desired and left you with disappointment and perhaps a decision to not return to their establishment.
Managing Customers is a 24/7/365 endeavor and I think we can do better to fully embrace the importance of every customer interaction in B2B. Be in the moment, ask why and always be on a mission to attain alignment. Your customers will thank you.