Recalibrating Customer Interactions

Today I’ve been thinking a lot about recalibrating the approach to customer interactions.

The day started off with a meeting with a client about a potential project.  Our discussion explored how this very successful company can develop more business from current customers, especially in these tough times where it is harder to find new customers.

As we talked, it became clear that the best answers lie not in more lucrative promotions, better offers or a new loyalty program.  It’s much more fundamental than that.  Interacting with customers during this time of economic uncertainty and turmoil requires, more than ever, an approach based on the customer interaction principles that have obsessed me for years.

  • It’s not about customer service.  It’s about the relationship-building encounter. Customer service is not what you strive for; it has become basic hygiene. (Yes, some companies still don’t brush their teeth.)  The goal of every interaction between a person in your company and a customer is to make sure that the relationship with the customer is better at the end of the interaction than it was at the beginning.
  • Stop shouting already! People hear Brand Harmony. This is the worst time to dial up the brute-force marketing techniques, trying to out-shout, out-promote and out-sizzle your competition.  The world is way too noisy and your customers are way too scrutinizing.  Interact with customers in a way that matches how they form impressions of you: By creating a strong sense of Brand Harmony that communicates a clear, compelling, comprehensive story.

How much better would your business be if your organization, with the talent of virtuosos, adhered to these principles?


  • Amanda Cullen
    Mar 31, 2009 - 10:54 am

    “Stop shouting already” is such great advice for companies. Whenever a company shouts these days, you can feel the desperation that drenches their messages. Their unwritten meaning is, “We are desperate to do anything that will get your money!”

    We had to have a plumber over, and we made an appointment for several days in advance. That was most convenient for us. But I got two calls from the company begging to let the plumber come earlier. Gosh, you’re that busy, huh?

    Their shouting actually meant to me that they are in a weak position, and I might have to find a new company next time we need a plumber.

  • Andy Thorp
    Apr 03, 2009 - 01:17 am

    I joined our local chamber of commerce in Manchester, UK this year. They’d been after me for a while and I finally relented! I paid my dues, got a standard pack in the post and kind of hoped I’d get a call from them welcoming me personally and asking me about my business and how they might help. I did get a call from them – to ask me if I’d like to advertise on their calendar.

    I also see acts of desperation in local networking events. You see lots of overt selling at the best of times, but people are going for the short term win even more now in the recession.

    A while back, even before the economy nose-dived, I took a decision to really focus on relationship building and simply helping others. People are responding really well to me simply listening to them and giving them some free advice and it’s starting to pay dividends. It also makes you feel good in yourself!

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