It is critical to consider the “anatomy” of an interaction in a Customer Experience. The sheer number of things that occur in an interaction at the same time can seem astonishing. Understanding what happens when your team interacts with a customer and why it is an essential element to taking your Customer Experience to the next level. The Anatomy of a Customer Interaction can make or break your Customer Experience.
In my latest book, The Intuitive Customer, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), co-authored by Professor Ryan Hamilton of Emory University, we explain the psychological concepts that influence this anatomy, from how we make decisions to how we find shortcuts to save energy to how memories of an experience are formed, among others. It starts with the idea that people are emotional (intuitive) in their thinking, saving the rational thinking for certain situations. Because of their preference for the quick and easy results of emotional thinking, we call the customer (and the book) the Intuitive Customer. Understanding all these concepts is essential to optimize interactions with Intuitive Customers and gain their loyalty.
A closer look at what we see all the time
Most of us dissected some creature in biology class somewhere along the way in our schooling. The teachers assigned the exercise so we could observe the inner workings of a creature that we have seen before in a new way; a “look under the hood” of the frog’s outward appearance or what made it tick before it croaked, as it were.
The Anatomy of a Customer Interaction is the same concept. It’s a look beneath the surface of something we observe all the time but don’t always understand how the systems that support it work.
To my mind, there are eight steps in the Anatomy of a Customer Interaction. However, the steps are not linear, meaning you don’t start at one point and end at another. No, the interaction is more like a figure eight, doubling back on itself to infinity. Also, the steps of it repeat in an endless cycle until the communication ends.
That sounds like a contradiction, but it isn’t. Let me explain:
It starts with the customer doing something.
Then, the employee puts it into context.
Based on this context, the employee then has his or her interpretation and thoughts about it, processing the information.
The employee then determines the meaning of the customer’s action, which inspires their natural reaction.
Now, the employee filters their natural reaction through the usual expectations when a customer acts this way, which can include everything from societal norms to organizational culture.
The employee decides how to respond with the values he or she used to filter and, which will instigate activation energy.
Next, the employee reacts, whether that means they answer, ask another clarifying question or walk behind the counter to grab a box the customer requested.
The customer will do something else…
…and round and round we go!
The interaction may only take a few moments, even nanoseconds. However, as you can see from the detail I laid out, there are many moving parts here. However, these moving parts and the thought-processes behind them are what inspire the outcome of your Customer Experience, whether that is disappointed and frustrated or happy and pleased. Think of it as a necessary foundation for using the tools you have learned about behavioral economics.
When you examine Customer interactions, take them apart piece by piece, you discover how the Intuitive Customer and your employee behave using intuition rather than rationality most of the time. Moreover, you see how your organization’s operations are affecting their behavior. This level of detailed examination is vital to determine where you need to affect change in your organization.
How your customer-facing teams interact with customers to evoke emotion drives value ($$$) for your organization. You can’t drive a lot of value here, however, unless you understand what happens in an interaction with customers. Examining the Anatomy of a Customer Interaction helps take your Customer Experience to the next level—and your bottom line, too.
To learn more about the Anatomy of a Customer Interaction and the concepts behind it, please register for our FREE, informative 30-minute webinar on June 27th, 2017 at 11 am Eastern Time (USA). We will examine the importance of the interaction between customers and customer-facing teams as well as how to optimize the experience to drive the most value for your bottom line. Space is limited, so please click here to learn more and register today.
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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX