Interaction with Customers


The third step in customer relationship marketing is interacting with customers (interact). At this interact stage, the company tries to do what is called learning relationship, which is two-way communication that can make the company understand the needs of customers individually and vice versa, customers can make the company more familiar with its customers (Peppers et al. 1999, p. 93- 98).

Through a series of dialogues carried out in the interaction process is not only intended to make customers feel better, but also to get information that can be used to customize products to suit individual customer needs. And the way a company can customize it can not be imitated by competitors, because competitors do not have information obtained by the company concerned from interacting with customers. That is why dialogue is called the heart of learning relationships (Peppers et al. 1999, p. 111).

How to Interact with Customers
How to interact with customers can be divided into 2 types of ways to interact. The distinction is based on the situation faced by the company. First, the situation in which the company can meet face to face with customers. Second, circumstances where the company cannot meet face to face with customers. To further clarify the way the company interacts with its customers, it will be explained further as follows.

Face to Face Situation
The company may face a situation where the company can directly face to face with customers, in situations like this between employees of the company and customers can dialogue with each other directly. To ensure that in these interactions customers can still be treated personally, companies can implement what is called an enterprise information portal (EIP) (Lapointe, 2000).
Enterprise information portal (EIP) integrates a customer database with employee workstations, this system allows employees to access information about customers from their workstations quickly. So that when the employee interacts directly with the customer, the employee can not only know the name of the customer but also the needs, wants, historical data about the customer and customize the services provided according to the needs and desires of the customer.

Situation Face To Face Indirectly
To be able to keep interacting even though they cannot face to face, the company can use the customer interaction center (CIC) media, which is an interaction media that interacts between the company and the customer interactively (Peppers et al. 1999, p. 4).
In CIC customers can choose the communication media they want and can be tailored to their individual needs. For example they can choose whether they want to communicate with the company by telephone, fax or through a web site, in addition to that customers can also make purchases online, check the status of their orders, ask for information about new products or can carry out consultations on technical issues from the product. Besides being able to help customers get solutions to the problems they face, CIC is also used by companies to dig up information about customers. So companies can find out what they need, what makes them satisfied, and most recently what makes them loyal (Peppers et al. 1999, p. 282).

To create an interaction that is individualized and can build learning relationships with customers, according to Peppers et al (1999, p. 98) companies must pay attention to the following matters
1. Make sure that customers feel comfortable with the interactions they have with the company.2. Don't interact without a clear purpose.3. Don't ask the customer the same thing more than once.4. Interaction must be carried out using the media desired by the customer5. When starting an interaction, start with things that are related to the customer and not about the product.6. Interaction must be personal.7. Ensure that interactions are welcomed by customers.8.Use mass-customization technology to reduce costs and improve personalization of the dialogue between the company and its customers.9.Ensure that specific MVC customers are identified and treated in a friendly manner.10.Use toll-free telephone numbers or web sites to make it easier for customers to interact with the company.11.Provide services that reflect what has been learned from each of these interactions.

Interaction is usually the first, sometimes the only one of the four steps in implementing customer relationship marketing that is clearly seen by customers. While the identification and differentiation as a whole are not visible, completely under the surface of the interaction carried out by the company with its customers. Although the customize is also clearly visible to the customer, from the customer's point of view the customize is not the first time it is seen but the interaction that is first seen by the customer (Peppers et al. 1999, p. 94).

How to Identify Customers in the Interact Step

The process of identifying customers also occurs in the customer interaction center (CIC), in CIC the customer can be identified in 2 ways, namely:

1. Automated ID information
By using automated caller ID technology, service representatives can search for data about customers in the data base while receiving a call from the customer so that the service representative can find out who he is talking to and find out all information about that customer. So that makes the service representative can provide services according to the needs of these customers. Or for customers who have interacted for the first time through a call center, the customer's data will be stored in a database to facilitate interaction in the future (Peppers et al. 1999, pp. 286-287).

2. When customers register at the company's web site
For customers who interact with the company through a web site, the company can identify customers when the customer registers on the web site. But to make customers want to register themselves on the company's web site, the company can do the following:
a. Offering prizes for customers who want to register themselves.
b. Offering personalization of the contents of the web site according to the needs of these customers.
c. Offering access to more information about products and service from the company.
d. Affix a toll-free telephone number on each product or leaflet, so customers have no trouble interacting with the company.

How to Distinguish Customers during the Interact Step
In addition to being identified, customers who interact through CIC are also differentiated based on their needs. In CIC customers can be distinguished in 4 ways, namely:

1. Skill path routing
By using the path routing skill, each customer who calls will immediately be connected to a specific desk or a service representative who will serve the customer according to their needs, or for MVC to be connected directly and quickly to a service representative compared to other customers (Peppers et al. 1999, p. 87).

2. Applying the principle of mass customization
Companies can also apply the principle of mass customization to create a profile of customers which is a summary of every interaction made by the company with each customer. In this way the service representative can obtain knowledge about these customers precisely and quickly. And based on knowledge about the customer service representatives can customize the services provided to these customers (Peppers et al. 1999, p. 288).

3. Quick find menu and drop down menu
Companies can find out the needs of customers who visit the company's web site through the media quick find menu and drop down menus, because through this media it can be seen directly what the needs of these customers (Peppers et al. 1999, p. 288).

4. Give ratings to customers who visit the company's web site
In addition to differentiating customers based on their needs, customers who interact through CIC are also differentiated based on their value to the company. Customers who have high value (MVC) will get different treatment from customers who have lower value than those customers. According to Peppers et al (1999, p. 290) web site visitors can be grouped into 4 groups, where each group has different levels of access to information:
a. Guest (Guest) is a first-time customer who visits the company's web site and has not yet registered on the web site.
b. Registered users are customers who have registered themselves on the company's web site.
c. Client, is a user who has registered and has repeatedly visited the web site.

How to Customize the Interact Step
After being identified and distinguished, then proceed with customization. According to Peppers et al (1999, p. 310) customization of CIC can be done in 2 ways.
1. Welcome message / greetings
Customization can be done by giving a greeting and greeting by mentioning the name or user name of the customer concerned.
2. Personalized information or content

Customization can also be done by adjusting information or content (content) from the web site. For customers who interact through the call center, customization is done by applying the principle of mass customization to the profile of the customer. So the service representative can adjust the services provided to customer needs. Meanwhile, for customers who interact through a web site, customization can be done by adjusting information or content (content) from the web site to the needs of customers.

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