Interaction with customers. Stages of developing the right strategy
Customer service is the cornerstone of your business. This means that you meet and get acquainted with your customers, you interact with them and, finally, improve your business. Customer service can both improve your business and ruin it, so you need to have an effective customer service strategy.

We show you step-by-step instructions for developing a customer relationship strategy that will stand the test of time and give your organization an edge. We will share with you examples of how other successful companies do it.

When customers have a positive experience in service, everyone wins. We want to show you why effective customer interaction has never been so important, and together we will look at everything you need for the right customer service strategy.

The importance of customer engagement strategies
To begin with, let's define what a customer service strategy is and the role it plays in making decisions that you and other employees of your organization make.

First, consider the strategy in a general sense. A strategy can be defined as an action plan designed to achieve a long-term or overall goal. The strategy is different from the goal. Simply put, the goal is where you want to go, and the strategy is how you get there.

Your customer interaction strategy should reflect and support the overall development strategy of your organization, but should be specific enough to direct events and decisions in the field of customer service in the right direction.

Having an effective customer interaction strategy has never been so important, and there are three main reasons for this:

The first reason is the rapidly changing customer expectations. When customers are faced with a service innovation in an organization, they begin to expect this from the rest. Therefore, you must have a flexible development plan for this service so that you can adapt to changing conditions.
The stakes here are very high, it’s easy for customers to talk about poor service experience through various reviews and social networks, but if you constantly provide excellent service, they will share their positive experience, which is a powerful driving force for your business.

The second reason is the sheer importance of having a customer service department. There are several levels at which effective customer service creates value, including efficiency, customer loyalty, and strategic value. Today, many organizations know that they need effective customer service, and most of them understand the importance of customer loyalty and word of mouth.
Every day, interacting with customers, the support service sees from the side the quality of the product, as well as the processes taking place inside the company. Employees of the department are able to help in any other area in which the organization is improving and introducing innovations. That is, customer service can see the flaws of a product or service through the eyes of the customer.

The third reason is that many decisions made by the company must be agreed with the customer service department. Understanding what customers want is important for building an effective development strategy for the company as a whole. In turn, an effective strategy will help you meet or exceed customer expectations.
Consumer expectations are developing very fast, and the reason for this is innovation. The experience that customers gain in any organization, not only in yours, but also others in your industry, shapes their perception. Fortunately, defining expectations is not a daunting task.

The International Institute for Customer Relationship Management (ICMI) has identified 10 consumer expectations from interacting with the company's services. In the report you can see the following criteria:

access to the company over the communication channel that I prefer;
polite attitude;
Be responsive and be able to anticipate what I want and need;
interact with well-trained employees and get what I need the first time.
What do these expectations mean? For example, accessibility. For many organizations, even for a small retail store, customers assume that the service will be available through a convenient channel, which may include personal communication, telephone, self-service, access via mobile applications and other alternatives.

In addition to these 10 expectations, there is another category that relates to personal service and is called “material values” related to aesthetics and functionality of the environment. These include the facilities themselves, the professional appearance of employees, amenities such as Wi-Fi, as well as waiting areas and more. Everything that affects the client’s perception of the organization and the services provided.

It is very interesting to observe successful customer interaction strategies at companies such as Patagonia in outerwear, Lyft in transport, and Lego in toys that thrive in a very competitive environment because they have unique strategies that resonate with their customers. Understanding customer expectations is an important prerequisite for developing a customer engagement strategy that suits your organization.

It's time to discuss five common mistakes in strategy development:

Creating a too complicated plan. There are dozens of page-long strategies that no one really understands. Your customer service strategy should be an integral part of everyday decisions and operations.
Have absolutely no plan.
To think that the customer service strategy is intended only for those departments of the company that directly interact with customers. The reality is that customer service is the responsibility of the whole organization. You need to improve overall customer service, not just customer service as such. Therefore, the goal should be to draw the attention of all departments to customer service strategies and their roles in it.
The erroneous belief that you can copy a successful formula from other companies. Finding the right customer engagement strategy is a unique way. Amazon and Zappos are customer oriented, but they have very different approaches. Zappos specializes in high-tech service. They emphasize the importance of one-on-one conversations. Amazon is well known for its self-service platform.
Insufficient relationship between the developed strategy and company employees. Each employee must not only understand the strategy, but also correctly determine how his work and daily activities support it.
One of the characteristics of an effective customer interaction strategy is that it focuses on actions that are necessarily performed. The best strategies predetermine every decision and every aspect of everyday activities.

What you really would not want is to work hard on a strategy that no one is using. Some developers are really fixated on how the strategy should be documented and presented, and we recommend that you do not. Whether it be slides, a text document, or any other design, it should be as clear, attractive, and concise as possible.

An effective customer service strategy should have the support of senior management. Of course, you can develop an individual strategy only for the customer service department, but the creation of quality service affects the entire organization.

A successful customer engagement strategy helps prioritize the improvement of services, products, and processes. For example, FedEx, which has always been considered one of the most respected companies in the world, is engaged in transportation and logistics, but their strategy is based on the inspiring promise that they write in the first person: "I will make every FedEx experience outstanding."

They call it the “purple promise” and consider every opportunity to improve service through this lens. Priority is given to the initiatives that best support the fulfillment of this promise.

An effective customer engagement strategy produces results that matter and can be measured. These may include increased profits, market share, interactions with customers and employees, and others. In fact, the enthusiasm that customers experience for a company is the ultimate measure of strategy effectiveness.