Improve Customer Experience with Micro-Connections

on February 8, 2017

What happened when the agent told me, “I’ve checked your bag to Jamaica”

When I ask people why they love Starbucks, Chipotle, Zappos, or any other CX stand-out brand, they often tell me they love when the person on the other end of the phone or counter treats them in a way that feels real versus robotic and scripted. They enjoy being treated in a way that is truly authentic.

In today’s fast-paced world, this connection must happen in seconds. It’s what my colleague and fellow CX junkie Gary Magenta calls a “micro-connection” – a short interaction (think 20 seconds) between an employee and a customer that feels personalized and authentic.

How Micro-Connections Changed My Experience as a Customer

Customer experience in the airline industry has gotten a bad rap. In some cases, it’s well earned. Here is a recent example where one airline got it right, I mean really nailed it. And when I say airline, I mean the person on the other side of the counter.

I was checking my bag at the counter in Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport after a holiday weekend, and the agent thanked me for being a million miler. This happens just about every time I fly this airline, and it should. But this exchange was different. There was real authenticity within the standard (and likely required) recognition.

Kia, the agent assisting me, asked, “Who’s missing you? There is always someone missing you when you are a million miler!”

She’s exactly right! My family and friends always talk about how they wish I was off the road more. We also talked about how the other person missing me is that husband I thought I’d meet along the way, but haven’t met yet. (I’ll save tales of my dating saga, which could fill 100 blogs, for another time.)

To close this micro-connection, Kia handed me my bag tag and said with a wink, “I’ve checked your bag to Jamaica – you’ve earned some time on the beach!”

All the feels, people. All the feels. (My colleague admitted he has never heard this phrase. If you too haven’t, here’s the Urban Dictionary definition: “Usually a reference in music, a phrase used to describe a song that makes you feel good; or having good vibes.”)

Micro-Connections Can Make a Big Impact on Your Customer Experience

While having a leisurely interaction with a customer can drive loyalty, in this age of overly scheduled lives, we don’t always have time for anything more than a micro-connection. But just because the connection is small – micro, even – doesn’t mean it can’t be incredibly impactful. After all, we just want someone to recognize that we are all humans. And as customers, we’re simply trying to get a meal, get home, or maybe get some new clothes.

So, how can you help your employees deliver truly authentic experiences using the power of the micro-connection? Here are two things I’ve seen work well, both as a customer and as a CX consultant:

  • Make the greeting personal. Allow your employees to make it their own. Provide guidelines for what’s in bounds and out of bounds, but then let them have some fun with it.
  • Step into the customer’s shoes. If she is boarding her fourth flight of the week, or has an insane number of stays at your hotel, empathize with her. Try to imagine what it feels like to be away from friends and family so frequently, or how exciting it is to plan a vacation with all those loyalty points.

As my personal experience proves, it is very possible to improve customer experience with micro-connections. I’m a believer that lots of positive micro-moments can add up to something really big! I’d love to hear about your favorite micro-connection. Where was it and what did the employee do to nail it?

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