Exploiting Customer Interaction Points for Increased Sales

By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant, https://iunctura.com/

Every time you communicate with your customer you have an opportunity to share additional products and services with them, thereby earning your organization additional opportunities for increased sales. Exploiting these interaction points is critical to increase your business sales and improve your profits.

Before we begin, it is important to understand the two key terms we will be using -- customer interaction points and exploit. Without the proper definition, this powerful strategy could cause more harm than good for both your business and your customers.

Understanding customer interaction points are the foundation of what we will discuss here. They include any communications you have with a customer; they also represent sales opportunities, as well as provide a means to gather additional information.

Whether it is simple phone calls, sharing pre-sales information, an invoice, or in your actual sales materials, you are communicating with your customer. Even further, anytime your customer sees or uses your product also represents a customer interaction point – which can be further defined as the state or stage of product usage or communication, which will expand on later.

If you are not asking for additional business every time you interact with your customer, you could be missing 82% of the available opportunities you receive each year. That could easily represent thousands of dollars your business could earn for its bottom-line. Since you have to communicate with the customers anyway, why not offer them something useful, It doesn't cost you any more than you are spending right now. I could go as far to say, it is a disservice to your customer if you do not make them an offer, because you could be providing them with additional benefits.

Customer interaction points are not just additional sales opportunities; they also represent a useful information-gathering tool to improve serve quality for your customers. It is a means to obtain feedback on your performance, educate your customer, and discover ways to add value to your product.

When a customer calls to complain, you instantly gain a check to balance your activities. With well-documented customer interaction points, an organization would note this feedback (positive or negative) and route the details to the appropriate party for action.

In the case of education, you can help the customer make better buying decisions, use your product to a greater benefit, or help them reach their objectives through other services you provide. At any point of interaction always, look for ways to give extra value to your customer by educating them.

Finally, each customer interaction point represents information to improve the value of your products or services. Consider points of repair, you can learn about your products ‘mean time between failures' and even gain information about how individual parts wear. If you provide a service, you can learn about additional expectations or benefits the customer may want – which can translate to better sales materials or improved repair programs.

The next term we will define is “exploited” which unfortunately most often has such negative connotations. The definition we will look at here is “to employ to the greatest possible advantage” which comes from The American Heritage´┐Ż Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.

It is really all about customer benefit and utilizing all the resources you have to provide them the best value for their money. Utilizing every communications opportunity to provide the best experience possible for any customer doing business is a must to stay competitive in this day and age. It is almost a requirement for gaining trust and doing business. Consider exploitation in this document to be beneficial to the customer.

Further more, in the exploitation of customer interaction points we are discussing only win-win situations. Your organization as well as your customer must derive benefit from each interaction. Whether you are collecting additional usage information, improving a demographic profile, or helping the customer gain better results with your product – think win-win!

When some people think ‘exploited', they think ‘taken away.' With customer interaction points, it is necessary that you seek to provide additional benefits and remember we are exploiting the system not the customer. If you do not take every opportunity to better serve your customer, you are providing them a disservice and your competitors will move in quickly.

Now that you have a clearer understanding of what customer interaction points are, and how the word exploited is meant in a good way -- let us now move along to how we will use this new found channel for increasing sales and helping the customer reach their objectives.

In developing customer interaction points, we will look at the three key elements that contribute to them. These elements are influencers, mediums, and customer expectations. Since interaction points are defined by state or stage (place in time) we want to look at these elements as they comprise or create a point of interaction.

These three elements are presented in a flow chart consisting of a number of boxes (interaction points) connected by lines demonstrating order. Each box has arrows pointing into it, on the left representing ‘influences' while arrows into the right represent ‘mediums.' In this vertical flowchart, customer expectations are listed under each box as a number of bullets. For the sake of simplicity, brainstorm many then choose the top five.

Start with the three elements discussed; influencers, mediums, and expectations, to populate your basic customer interaction points. These basic points include ‘point of sale', ‘point of service', and ‘point of disposal.' Being common to many industries, these points help you get started and to become more familiar with the process.

As your diagram evolves, utilize an outline of your supply chain to add additional points, referencing actual research to highlight and populate the key elements.

This is meant to be a creative exercise, make the most of it. One warning, because the more customer interaction points you find the more opportunities to serve (sell) your customer, some people might be inclined to spend lots of time on analysis and research – don't make that mistake, implementation is equally important to achieving maximum results.

Let your customer determine when enough is enough. A simple diagram of your customer interaction points can go a long way to improve your sales, increase customer knowledge, or increase your profits.

Each new point of interaction provides an opportunity to sell additional products to your customer, or educate them in their buying decision; both steps together can increase your sales.

Your knowledge is improved by documenting communications in a uniform manner, then passing along relevant details to the right departments for implementation. This method makes your whole company smarter over time, which will reduce your costs.

With practice, this exercise can bring greater profits for your entire company with things you already doing – interacting with your customers. The awareness and utilization of customer interaction points gives you new sales opportunities so get started today.

© 2002 JWH Consolidated LLC dba Center for Strategic Relations, All rights reserved.
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Justin Hitt is a consultant who specializes in growing relationships for executives in technology companies who want greater profits. For a copy of his newsletter Inside Strategic Relations visit https://iunctura.com/newsletter



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