The relationship between businesses and customers is no longer limited to offering and availing products or services – it has acquired a new paradigm. As most of the businesses have moved to the digital space, a powerful customer engagement has emerged as a key factor for increasing customer experience (CX) and hence, revenues.
In general, a good customer experience is the sum of your brand’s offering, the perception of your brand, and how you engage with your customers. This means CX is much more than just the sales journey – it’s about getting heard, getting answers to questions, having problems fixed, and feeling a connection to the brand. Thus, in order to make your customers emotionally attached to your brand, you need to engage them effectively and comprehensively.
So what is a powerful customer engagement?
Wikipedia defines customer engagement as “a business communication connection between consumers and brands through different channels of correspondence online as well as offline. The connection can be a reaction, interaction, effect or overall CX.” So a powerful customer engagement means your relationship with your customers should be skin-deep, which builds a high level of loyalty. Since consumers are armed with more information and choices, engagement has become your crucial component to ensure that your brand should be preferred when a purchase has to occur.
When you focus on customer engagement, you are actually focusing on value creation by giving people something meaningful. You encourage your customers to interact and share the experiences you create for them as a business and a brand. As a matter of fact, a healthy engagement also includes your customers engaging with each other as long as the topic of their engagement is focused on your brand. It is increasingly becoming a huge concern for a lot of businesses. A 2014 study by McKinsey & Company shows that business executives rate customer engagement as the top strategic priority for all business initiatives. The result of this study shows a close correlation between businesses’ profitability and their customer engagement.
The art and science of customer engagement
To begin with, you need to engage with your customers as individuals based on what they do and what their needs are. You should interact with them continuously over time whenever they are through every possible channel. Your engagement should be directed towards the goal of making them emotionally invested in continuing to buy your products or services. Finally, your efforts should have a meaningful impact at the speed of digital.
Therefore, for a healthy customer engagement, you need to work on the following metrics:
- Prioritize customer lifetime value
An excellent customer experience is the reflective of a healthy engagement with your customers, and the best tactic for improving customer lifetime value (LTV). When you establish a good link with them, it provides you a clear view of what matters to them, what they want and where to focus. So customers tend to stick with your brand when you offer them value. LTV is an important metric that measures the value you create for your customers, and which they share with others as well.
According to a study by Oracle, 74% of senior executives believe that a better customer experience increases chances of customers becoming loyal advocates. A high CX demands that you ensure your customer support team – the frontline of your business – is proactive enough to meet customers’ needs and solve their problems. Furthermore, LTV helps you in lead nurturing, right-selling, cross-selling, and the monitoring of customer behaviors.
- Apply science to content
When it comes to engaging with customers, content continues to play a vital role in grabbing their attention. You need to create relevant contents for your interested audience and better serve them by providing added value. For that, you need to refurbish your content strategy. So what exactly is content strategy? According to Mike Corak, Vice President / General Manager, at Ethology Inc., a digital marketing agency, “Content strategy is the art and science of planning, managing, and increasing the effectiveness of a brand’s content across all digital channels.” So in order to strategize and promote your content, you need to apply science to it.
You can divide your customers in three categories:
- Early stage (pre-purchase)
In the early stage, you have to provide thought leadership and enjoyable content to build brand awareness and desire.
The content to be provided should be in the form of blogs, e-books, research data, informative videos, funny videos, curated lists, infographics, and webinars.
- Middle stage (commit to change)
In this stage, you can use tools that help buyers find your product or service when they are looking for solutions.
The tools can be in the form of buying guides, RFP templates, ROI calculators, definitive guides, and analyst reports.
- Later stage (evaluation)
In the late stage, you need to provide company-specific information that helps you evaluate and reaffirm customer engagement. It includes pricing, demos, services information, third party reviews, and customer case studies.
- Listen and respond appropriately
Bill Gates once quoted, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” True! A good engagement includes listening and responding to your customers regularly. While listening gets you feedback and data from customers, responding identifies opportunities to create a better customer experience. To that effect, feedbacks and reviews become very important as they can significantly affect your reputation.
According to a report from BrightLocal, 93% of people regularly read online reviews, while 85% of them said they trust online reviews from strangers as much as personal recommendations. So you need to manage reviews and build your strategies around them. You need to identify review sites that are most relevant to your business. Thus, when people lookout for reviews here, they will be able to spot your products or services from trusted sources. The point is when you carefully listen and respond to your customers appropriately, you can use their reviews to increase your brand exposure and reputation.
- Personalize your communication
Using a personal touch in how you communicate with your customers is a pure art that builds and strengthens the relationship to a great extent. Research shows that personalized experiences can increase sales up to 20%. Another report from eMarketer states that 70% of US retailers are making customer personalization a priority. So for customer engagement, nothing works better than giving a genuine human touch. Being personal includes being responsive to the emotions of your customers and knowing their history with you.
Relationships built via good conversations and in-person collaboration allow you to spot new opportunities for innovation while making your customers feel special. You can serve your visitors with personalized content to encourage them to take action. You can make good use of social media, email, phone, chatbots and whatever another communication channel you can use. For example, informing about new product discounts personally leads to a better engagement and ultimately a better experience.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for customer engagement. It is an evolving science that demands you to be more innovative, sensible and tactful towards meeting customer’ needs and giving them a better experience. Since it is up to your potential how you can entice your customers, so it is both an art and science.
Chris Myers is a writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. Chris Myers has a BA in English & Journalism and wide-ranging background in digital media.