Customer interaction encompasses the three major phases starting from the pre-sale stage to the purchase stage and finally to the post-sale or after-sale phase of the interaction. In every stage of the company’s interaction with its customers, there are various ways and means to communicate with them. It should be the nature of a business to be assertive in initiating the communication with potential and existing customers in order to facilitate interaction and build a good business relationship.
Yet, a company or a business organization cannot just simply make use of any type of customer interaction. Depending on the type and nature of the business, there are kinds of customer interactions that are considered formal and informal. Large corporate entities operating globally follow formal customer interaction as it has already established its name and would need to keep the reputable image it has built to the global community.
Customer Service Manual
A basic guide or tool used by large-scale businesses in their customer interaction is a customer service manual. It is a comprehensive handbook or instruction booklet for internal organizational use, which generalizes the bulk of activities and practices that employees and staff should demonstrate during a customer interaction.
The customer service handbook should incorporate the following elements:
- The overall customer service goals and standards
- The manner of greeting customers (either by phone or face-to-face contact)
- The manner of presenting advertising and marketing materials
- The way to answer product and service inquiries
- The manner of providing responses to business or company profile inquiries
- Call handling or call flow process
- The way to conduct selling and up-selling
- The method of informing customers on product or service changes and updates
- The process of handling customer complaints
- Gathering customer feedback
- Evaluating customer feedback
Employee or Staff Formal Training
Aside from establishing the customer relations manual, a business organization also invests in formal training to its employees who directly communicate and interact with the customers, or the first-line employees. The training utilizes the manual as a guide and reference of both the instructors and the employees in learning the formal ways of customer interaction and applying their knowledge in context. This would ensure the company that the service provided by its representatives to the customers is universal, standardized, and consistent regardless of the type of customer they are dealing with.
Normally, these trainings are conducted before the employees are endorsed to operations. The primary purpose is to prepare them before their initial customer encounter or customer communication. It also helps minimize unnecessary mistakes in their manner of doing the interaction.
Methods of Formal Customer Interaction
In order to identify the formal ways of interacting with customers, the following methods provided below under the successive stages of customer interaction are listed.
Pre-Sale Customer Interaction
- Utilizing the print, radio, television, and online media sources in advertising or marketing the products and services
- Sending formal email communications to potential business clients
Point of Purchase
- Identifying the modes and means of payment for the purchase
- Setting payment and shipping or product delivery policies
- Company terms and conditions for customers to follow
- Sealing the business deal with a contract
- Following a call flow process in telephone conversations
- Using canned messages or templates for email and chat interactions
After-Sale Customer Interaction
- Making callbacks for follow-up
- Using a standardized method in gaining customer feedback
- Utilizing tools in generating responses from customer feedback
- Setting a specific method for customers to raise concerns and complaints e.g. e-mail and filling out a complaint form
- Sending out monthly or quarterly company newsletters
- Stipulating refund, product return, and exchange as well as cancellation policies
- Providing the means for customers to make after-sale inquiries and concerns
- Stating eligibility requirements for company freebies and perks
It may seem like formal customer interaction is a little too stiff for both the company and the customers to adapt and follow. But these formal means of communication have been smoothly designed and laid out to those customers who have been with the business for a long time. In effect, even the potential customers are bound to adapt to the formal ways of interacting with the business organization.