Customer Engagement & Retention Strategies
With no doubt, Customer Acquisition is a difficult task in itself, advancements in Branding and Positioning has considerably made it easier. What follows post acquisition is the science of customer engagement and customer retention.
Irrespective of your industry or business vertical, customer churn is a reality. Traditional companies have employed customer relationship managers to continue engagements with a customer. That more or less remains limited to customer entertainment, gifts and merchandise, event tickets and more. There is no science behind this, there is Art.
When it comes to science, technology plays a big role in engaging a customer effectively. Let's not confuse customer engagement with customer service, as I am beginning to feel that most of you have started thinking that way.
An automobile manufacturer may have been able to sell a sub-standard vehicle with tasteful deception using the Art of Branding, Positioning, and Advertisements, but their challenge will have shifted focus on customer engagement and customer retention. Same could be the case with a mobile handset manufacturer. But the internet connected world soon realizes the deceit and forces the manufacturer to do better with their next version. Getting the trust back of that first set of deceived customers can be possible via scientific customer engagement alone.
"I won't complain. I just won't come back." - Brown & Williamson
If you were to suggest a return for Nokia or Blackberry, how would you do that?
Customer engagement is a communication link between a consumer and an organization through various channels of correspondence. This link can be a reaction, interaction, effect or overall customer experience, which can take place both online and offline.
Remember the times when we used to get a thick fat user manual every time we purchased a mobile handset? That was the older version of customer onboarding, the first customer engagement activity. How if the same on-boarding be changed into a series of time-delayed email drip sequence? Would the information be more readable and useful with small bits of tips and usage guide spread over a week? Or the same drip marketing can be done via SMS sending links to the online help manual.
Customer Touch Points
Any business can identify at least 10 customer engagement touch points and find their best channels to communicate with the customer. While these touch points will be very different from one business to another, some of the standard touch points could be.
- Customer Onboarding
- Customer Feedback or NPS
- Value added Services Offer.
- Broadcast happy customer testimonials.
- Ask the customer for a testimonial.
- Share creative content and interesting stories.
- Cross Sell and Up Sell communications.
- Invitation to Events and Roadshows.
If you understand English, press 1. If you do not understand English, press 2. - Bots on an Australian Tax Helpline.
For SaaS-based products and Internet Businesses, customer engagement has reached new heights. Multiple channels of communications are being used including Email, SMS, Push Notifications and In-app messaging. Your mobile game app pushes you bonus points every morning encouraging you to return back to their application.
Internet businesses are tracking visitors with their names and using email marketing automation or bots to send their customers pre-programmed messages. Encouraging more and more customer engagement on a website by giving them points every time they visit, is also called as Gamification. This type of engagement helps in customer retention. E-commerce businesses employ loyalty programs to retain customers and encourage them for further purchase on their sites.
Customer Retention is possible with a combination of good and timely customer engagement, and few more creative ways of incentivising customers to continue with your business. I am sure, no matter what type of business you run, these small stories will help you creatively think about new ways to engage and retain your customers.