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  • Writer's picturePeggy Amelung

How to make it easier for your customers to connect with you

Customer proximity is more than a buzzword. How do I establish a relationship through communication and make the moment uniquely valuable for both sides?

Kommunikation mit jedem Kunden ist einzigartig und hat Potential
Individual and emotional customer proximity nurtures long-term relationship with the customer

Customers don't want to go back to a pre-COVID time. Customer experience is conversational. Gone are the days of fleeting interactions. This means implementing technologies and processes that enable continuous conversations with customers, whether in support, sales or simply by sharing messages on social media. It is about active dialogue. Therefore, it is important to educate everyone in the team about the new role of communication as well.

Alongside delivery and pick-up services, virtual services and the increase in health and safety awareness, the factor of authentic communication is a key to success. Customer experience is conversational. That's what it's all about. How do you get it right? On the one hand, you will learn what the most important criteria of communication are today in times of a pandemic, and on the other hand, I will show you some examples of no-go's that you should consciously watch out for. The questions at the end will show you how to successfully implement lively communication in your company. And also how you can turn every customer contact into a living snapshot.

Even though we are coming into less and less contact with real people - forced by the pandemic and the rise of online business - one need of customers has become more and more apparent in recent months: Customers want human contact when they interact with brands. Customers will crave personalised, but also individualised communication even more after COVID. Customers are people and they want to be seen. As a human being.

How do you bring your customer communication back to life? Should your staff just nod silently, roll their eyes, grumble or grunt in agreement when talking to customers? Or should they be at eye level, friendly, proactive - in line with your brand message?

We are all customers, guests, clients ourselves. We chat. We read blogposts. We talk on the phone. We talk to employees. We move around on platforms of all kinds. Post-pandemic trend: increasing.


Four practical examples of customer communication

Let's look in detail.

Unfortunately, how does a client meeting proceed in most cases?

First example:

We enter a shop. We, the customers, first vie for attention. First with our presence, then with sharp glances, and when nothing more works, with a: "Excuse me, I have a question".

Embarrassingly disturbed, the employee answers curtly. And then, at the latest, turns directly to his colleague, or in the worst case, to a private conversation. We as customers turn on our heels, are disappointed to the max and think: "What a waste of time. All right, then I'll just order online." And this is not the exception, but often the rule.

Now, when the same customer goes to a second shop and by chance meets this professional and emphatic salesperson who just does everything right, this is what happens:

Second example:

The customer is immediately greeted in a friendly manner at the entrance. The salesperson observes the customer, is emphatic in his manner, lets him look for himself first and asks at the perfect moment how he can help with what. Even if the salesperson does not have the item in stock, as in the shop before, but communicates PROACTIVELY, takes customer data and orders in the shop, registers delivery times and wishes - simply takes care of the customer's needs - he or she makes the deal.

U N D binds the customer to the brand. If this experience is now complemented by a digital follow-up process in such a way that the customer inevitably recognises the brand - the goal is achieved. This is emotional customer loyalty at the highest level. The beginning of a long friendship has begun - an initial basis of trust has been created. And of course, sales have been generated.

Third example:

Car dealer. Empty hall, only cars and us. The car salesman does not greet us. When he finally sees us, he greets us frantically and does not realise that we are potential buyers. He deals with the conversation briefly, gives correct information and chalks it up to an exchange of information. He misses the chance to check buying signals, to pick up concrete customer data and thus take the customer relationship to the next level. Just with the way he communicates.

Or an extremely unpopular situation that customers get into: Two employees are extremely engrossed in a conversation - I'll say casually now, yakking at the workplace -, don't let themselves be disturbed at all and act as if we as customers are invisible. Do you know this? That's a big problem in the eyes of the customer. Of course, you don't feel like spending a lot of money. You feel, in the truest sense of the word, NOT SEEN. And buying cars online is already possible.

Fourth example:

It is 8.30 pm. A pulling pain from the left shoulder burns through the whole upper body and into the brain. I breathe it away like a contraction and think a massage would be just the thing. After all, I am in a five-star hotel. I pick up the phone and want to make the appointment of redemption. The spa would be available again the next morning from 8 a.m. I should call them again. - I don't have to explain to you how unpleasant it is to set an alarm for Sunday morning. My impulse had vanished, I had made the appointment with my osteopath by text immediately. It's a pity really, it could be so simple.

Every time you choose a product, it gets an advantage over the products you did not choose.

In the future, your staff should not just do "duty by the book", but should always be able to establish a connection. Each guest and each conversation may be considered individually. Without distraction. Without distortion. Employees are more than just process executors.

They are the link between the brand and the customer. The people who are supposed to trust the brand. A brand always reflects its personality in the way it communicates with customers. In other words, how you speak directly to your customers. Specifically, I know how difficult this is for some people. Inhibitions and fears have to be overcome. It's not just about processes. Ideally, it is precisely these "shoulder pains" that employees should detect in their tone and choice of words. That is real customer proximity. Set the antennas to receive exactly the signals that the customer is sending. Customer signals are needs. It is the job of a brand to meet the needs of its customers.

If you also prefer to be one of the companies like in the second example, if you prefer to approach your customers with open communication through employees who bring your vision to life, then come to me. I would be happy to support you in taking the right steps, changing processes and at the same time preparing your team mentally for the naturally open way of communication.


Why do we need Customer Intimacy?

It is important that brands signal holistically: We are here and are walking the path into the future together with you.

"The sale of the product is not the closing of a deal, but the beginning of a long relationship." Henry Ford

Customer Intimacy - The product evolves according to the needs of the clients.

It's about building trust and human proximity where there is none. Especially in the digital sphere.

What do I recommend to you?

1. More personal - every customer is a person, not a target group, and employees are also allowed to step out of their neutral position and communicate with customers without fear, whether offline or online.

2. More direct - direct address, proactive - without inhibitions before a dialogue - that is what I often experience. Or why do you think breakfast guests in hotels are asked for their room number? Efficiency is always the first argument. But at this point you really have the opportunity to talk a) more directly and at the same time b) more personally with the guest.

3. More emotional & emphatic - feelings make us human, that creates trust. Compassion is especially important, especially now. Here is my advice again: My experience is that there is a lot of confusion about terms. What is empathic listening? What is the difference between emotion and feeling? I always incorporate this into my seminars.

4. More authentic - but in the right role and in the right film. Find a concept that fits your band. Roles - define them clearly. Don't leave it to chance at this point or entirely to the mood of your collaborators. My concept is very much based on that of Dr. Stefan Wachtel, he is the author of the book "Die Kunst des Authentischen: 67 Wege in den richtigen Film". We can discuss what your film could be in an individual meeting. The topic will also be part of a 2-day seminar with Stefan Wachtel. BRIEFING CUSTOMER EXECUTIVE MODE.

5. More secure - and this is where the executives among you come in - give your staff exactly the confidence you want them to inspire in the customers. Trust them. Let them try, become more courageous and thus step out of their comfort zone bit by bit. You will see that it supports a confident demeanour and pushes the natural communication with the customer in exactly the direction you want it to go.

In concrete terms: Objectivity will not get us anywhere now.

Communication models must also always be adapted to the respective time. Especially now, Corona-conditioned - go into detail and be aware:.

70 per cent of customers want to deal with brands and buy from those who understand them.

1.Defines interactive points along the customer journey, AI and analogue. Where do they meet? Decide what makes sense for you to also use digitalisation?

Example Majestella Live Chat - Real difference to the bot

2. Involve everyone - not just the customer service team. Try it out. Let employees talk about it, let them handle difficult situations, because they need to e

xperience it live. Instead of taking them on board, let them build the boat themselves. Let them really feel what a satisfied customer feels like in conversation.

3. Practices - training - practice, practice, practice - not just once in a while, but permanently. Have templates, training plans and above all a sustainable training programme. Because there is no such thing as natural talent in communication and rhetoric. Every speech, every customer or sales talk has to be practised.

Ask these seven questions:

  1. Do you have a communication guideline for your brand?

  2. Does the digital way of communicating, for example through bots, match the analogue world, i.e. your employees?

  3. Do you speak the same language in all channels and at all touchpoints?

  4. Have you discussed and analysed the experiences and lessons learned during the pandemic with your team and then applied them to your processes?

  5. What specific message are you currently sending with each customer contact? Are your staff sufficiently trained?

  6. Are they open and ready for this natural relationship building?

  7. Do the talent profiles you use to select your staff match your communication?



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