What does customer engagement mean to SMBs?

8th Dec 2015

Not so long ago, CRM guru Paul Greenberg defined the term ‘customer engagement’ as, “the ongoing interactions between company and customer, offered by the company, chosen by the customer”, and this has subsequently become a mantra adopted by a plethora of largescale organisations trying to modernise to keep up with the channels in which their customers engage.  

However, at SMB level, is engagement also viewed with the same level of cultural and remedial significance?

According to new research from MyCustomer, BusinessZone and Microsoft, 97% of small and medium-sized businesses view customer engagement as their top priority.

And many have a much more straightforward understanding of the term, with a large proportion viewing it as simply ‘building a good rapport between frontline staff and customers’.

Most small and medium-sized businesses also see engagement as boiling down to how they interact via social media, with 83% of businesses have a presence on social media and the most commonly used platforms being Facebook (69%), Twitter (66%) and LinkedIn (56%).

However, this varies significantly by the nature of the business and whether they are focused on serving consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B). For example, 29% of B2C companies have a presence on Instagram compared to just 9% of B2B companies. In contrast, 68% of B2B companies use LinkedIn compared to only 39% of B2C firms.

In many cases, small businesses tend to see engagement as being more of an offline process rather than online, particularly for those just starting out. Around 79% said they were ‘very effective’ or ‘effective’ at engaging customers offline, compared to only 55% online.

Participants in the study said that in most cases, a lack of time and knowledge hampered their ability to tie-up how they engaged with customers from offline to online and vice-versa.

But the research also found, that once companies start to grow, they tend invest in new technology such as CRM to help empower their frontline staff in dealing with customer queries. It found that once data starts to flow through their business processes, helping better forecast and react to changes in customer demand, many often felt they were able to improve their ability to connect on and offline engagement channels better.

“The internet is fast becoming the channel of choice for customers due to its speed and convenience,” says Laura Runham, SMB audience marketing manager for Microsoft Dynamics. “Which is why businesses that are experiencing the most growth know it’s more important than ever to ensure that the level of service they offer online is consistent with the level of service they offer offline.

“Ongoing and meaningful customer engagement across all channels, online and offline, results in longterm customer commitment and loyalty – which is key to the ongoing growth and success of your business. If you’re not connecting with your customers through today’s modern channels, someone else will be.”

Download the full report here  

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