Customer Enablement Manager
Pop quiz: what are you doing to leave a lasting impression on your clients?
Sure, you might offer a stellar product or service that speaks for itself.
But consider that your clients are looking for more than just service — they’re looking for experiences.
Food for thought: recent research notes that 87% of customers say the experience provided by a company is just as (if not more) important than what they’re selling.
And that same data notes that consumers will bounce to a competitor if they think they can find more meaningful experiences elsewhere.
That’s why it’s important to get the most out of each and every client interaction.
How to make sure your client interactions count
Listen: businesses should focus on quality over quantity when it comes to communicating with clients.
The more meaningful and personable your client interactions are, the more likely you are to build relationships and long-term customer loyalty.
Below are our tips for doing exactly that as a service-based business.
1. Rethink what a client interaction actually is
This is a big one and perhaps the most important tip of all.
Companies can’t limit their definition of client interaction to calls and face-to-face meetings.
True: these traditional back-and-forths are the most “direct.”
However, consider that there are arguably more opportunities to interact with your clients than ever before. Below is just a snapshot of frequent (and often subtle) examples of places client interactions happen:
- Project management comments and notifications (think: Trello, Asana)
- Slack messages
- Email confirmations, notifications, and autoresponders
- Digital meetings via Skype or Zoom
- Comments in Google Docs
- Meeting request messages and reminders
- Livechat messages
- Social media “likes,” comments and replies
In short, pretty much anything that constitutes an email or notification on your end or client-side constitutes an “interaction.”
Note that many client interactions are automated or don’t necessarily require anyone on your team to be present.
And yes, some of these touchpoints are obviously subtle. They’re easy to overlook.
For example, you might not think twice when leaving a note in Google Docs or a “thumbs up” in Trello.
But when you consider that your clients are likely working alongside multiple businesses and teams (think: competing service providers), even the smallest attention to detail can make a lasting impression.
Simply being aware of these interactions is the first step toward making them personable. This actually leads us to our next point.
2. Gather more meaningful information about your clients
The more data and information you have on your clients, the easier it is to personalize your interactions.
Are there any client-specific pain points you can speak to? What was the starting point of your business relationship? What do you need to know to make the relationship work?
This speaks to the need to gather relevant information from your clients, either during outreach or onboarding.
For example, creating a client intake form with a tool like Google Forms can help you answer the most pressing questions you need to know about your customers.
Having these key details ready gives you a reference point for your client relationships. You should likewise log your own personal notes become more familiar and friendly with clients.
For example, you might note that your client has a good sense of humor, shares your love of a sports team, or has a similar work background.
Whether it’s personal details or notes that are strictly business-related, tools like Copper can help.
For example, Copper allows you to log and store client notes directly in Gmail. This helps you keep each of your clients’ details organized and up-to-date without having to leave your inbox. Copper can also automatically log client details from an input form within your CRM.
3. Automatically log your touchpoints with clients
Piggybacking on the last tip, keeping track of every client interaction allows you to keep a detailed roadmap of your relationships.
This is where a CRM can truly be a game-changer.
Given the variety of possible client interactions, it’s easy to lose track of your communication or even repeat yourself if you aren’t mindful.
With a CRM like Copper, your entire client history is logged in black-and-white. You can also add in action items so you never have to second-guess “what’s next” with a client.
By automating some of your processes, you can save some serious time and likewise focus more on actually connecting with clients on a personal level.
The upside of using Copper is that it automatically integrates with Gmail, meaning you can see the details of your business relationships while still in your inbox.
4. Encourage your team to focus on empathy
The importance of customer empathy is well-documented in a day-and-age where clients want to be more personally connected with the businesses they work with.
Showing off your human side isn’t an exception to the rule when handling clients: it’s an expectation.
This means not only letting your personality shine (think: crack a joke, don’t stick to formal language) when talking to people, but also taking the time to walk in your clients’ shoes.
For example, let’s say a client reaches out and is clearly angry. Rather than dismiss their problem because of their tone, it’s key to practice patience and get to the root of the problem.
This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses drop the ball when it comes to customer success.
Providing good service isn’t just the right thing to do: it’s a brilliant way to build buzz, encourage referrals, and create positive word-of-mouth for your business.
Also, consider that client interactions don’t have to be totally “suit and tie.”
Did your client’s favorite team win a championship? Are they buzzing about a personal accomplishment on social media? Shout ‘em out!
The takeaway here is to be positive and personable when interacting with clients. This means both offering “service with the smile”, and also a willingness to sit down and spend time with clients when they have problems. Doing so is key to brand loyalty.
5. Prioritize timeliness in your client interactions
According to new data from SuperOffice, the average response time for any given customer service issue is approximately 12 hours.
Conventional wisdom tells us that’s too much time. Especially in an era of near-instant communication and notifications, clients expect speedier service.
Not only that, but slow service could result in huge headaches for your clients. The longer those frustrations linger, the more difficult it becomes to solve someone’s problem swiftly and on good terms.
For starters, consider having periods of time dedicated throughout the day specifically to handle emails and achieve inbox zero when it comes to client questions.
It’s also important to be able to prioritize the urgency of any given client interaction. For example, figuring out what needs to be done immediately (think: your client has a service outage) versus later (think: a thank-you email).
For the sake of increasing visibility of any potential problem, make sure that you keep a close eye on your inboxes and email notifications.
6. Create an expectation of consistent client communication
When your clients only communicate with you when there’s a problem, there’s a sort of negative connotation to your interactions.
On the flip side, consistent, friendly touchpoints signal that you want a positive relationship. This also helps you nip potential client problems in the bud by asking questions and making sure they’re satisfied with your service.
For example, this cheery check-in email from Revue is simple yet effective. This type of message frames your relationship as something positive and shows that you’re open to feedback.
By sending follow-up emails after an important client interaction (think: upsell, renewal, new feature announcement), you can double-check that everything is going well for your customers. You can likewise do this through social comments and “Likes.”
However, this process can definitely be time-consuming. That’s why we recommend you do everything you can to automate it.
Copper can help with that. For example, you can use email templates to quickly put together and personalize client messages and check-ins. This enables you to reach out to clients in bulk while still giving your messages a personal touch.
You’ll then get reminders and notifications to remind you to follow-up with no-shows and non-responses. This again reduces potential problems and shows that you’re being proactive about maintaining a relationship.
7. Communicate with clients on their terms
A common thread of effective client interaction is making peoples’ lives easier by saving them time, energy, and stress.
That means communicating with your clients on their preferred terms.
For example, if someone reaches out to you on Twitter, then you should respond on Twitter.
It might be tempting to immediately move your conversations to a call. However, bear in mind that your clients may not be comfortable doing so.
There is no single reason for this, either.
Some people might be anxious about hopping on a call. Others might prefer the flexibility of email or social, allowing them to put their thoughts into text minus any immediate pressure.
Either way, your clients will appreciate your ability to accommodate them.
Certain issues might require a meeting or call and that’s fine. For the sake of convenience, encourage your clients to choose dates and times that work best for their schedules. If you’re using Copper, you can provide that sort of flexibility with a meeting scheduler that automatically suggests open times.
8. Empower your entire team to interact with clients
If you only have a fraction of your team capable of handling client interactions, you’re likely going to run into service bottlenecks and slowdowns.
Giving your team at large the tools and opportunities to handle client requests isn’t about adding onto your team’s workloads: it’s about making yourself even more available to your clients.
For example, your team should have a comprehensive understanding of your product or service, frequently asked questions, and client personas.
If nothing else, your team can ideally identify who to hand off responsibilities to per department. Having a detailed client history and notes definitely helps with doing so in the case that someone on the team is out of the office or otherwise unavailable.
Again, that’s where Copper comes in handy. You can collaborate and see specific client notes, details, and preferences to figure out what they need and who to hand them off to.
9. Don’t copy-and-paste your client support
When thinking about client interactions, it’s important to find a balance between being speedy and being personable.
For example, you might have all 99% of the answers to your clients’ questions already stored in your knowledge base or company blog.
But simply pointing someone to a link is a far cry from a meaningful interaction.
When addressing a question or concern, make sure to do the following so your support feels less “copy and paste:”
- Address your client by name (and sign-off with your own as well)
- Be specific in your responses (for example, don’t say “this issue” or “your question”)
- Offer an opportunity to follow up (via phone, email, video call, social)
This approach ticks the boxes of giving your clients what they need without coming off like a robot.
10. Go above and beyond with gifts and surprises
Lastly, remember that we live in the Relationship era.
Gift-giving and surprises might seem corny, but they’re a surefire way to make your business stand out from the crowd.
Likewise, these personal touches remind clients that your company represents actual people that want to work together long-term.
From “thank you” cards to client-specific gifts, there are plenty of cost-effective customer appreciation ideas to choose from. Given the digital nature of doing business today, receiving something in-person can really leave an impression on your clients.
You don’t have to send gifts to each and every client, but they’re definitely worth considering for big accounts and renewals.
Oh, and don’t forget you can use your customer notes in Copper to highlight client quirks and potential gift ideas for the future.
How do you make your client interactions count?
There’s a lot of moving pieces of any business relationship.
That said, companies can’t ignore “the small stuff” when it comes to client interaction.
Whether it’s customer care or dropping a quick comment, strive to consciously make a positive impression on your customers. This ultimately creates a sense of loyalty that results in long-term, supportive clients.
And with the help of tools like Copper, you can log and track each crucial detail of your client relationships every step of the way.