3 Steps for Effective Customer Engagement
by Jill Anonson
Customer engagement is emotional, intangible and very personal. It isn't rational nor is it just about the physical product or tangible aspect of the service. It is just as much an art as it is a science.
A well-thought-out customer engagement strategy is essential. Customers are the ones driving brand interactions, with more power than ever before to choose how and when to engage with the brand.
So how do we look beyond stand-alone, one-time brand experiences to create the kind of ongoing, deep engagement that customers will want to seek out and maintain on their own? The answer is easy as 1, 2, 3.
1. Know What Motivates Customers
We live in an experience-driven world. Customers gravitate toward experiences that provide them with the stimulation they are looking for. They have become sensitive about how they spend their time and what inspires them to do so. If a brand focuses more on trying to sell consumers their products and/or services rather than finding ways to creatively engage with them and solve a need, their brand will be short-lived.
The importance of understanding your customers cannot be over emphasized. They are the influencers that can help shape the direction of your culture and technology. To motivate customers today, they want to feel that a brand understands them on a personal level.
Once you identify these trends and insights, you can engage freely and easily with the people that stand to impact your bottom line most of all—from the point of first contact (when they are surfing websites to find a suitable product) through the selection, registration, support, upgrade, renewal and any other phases off the transaction. Understanding motivation transforms not only the way in which a brand can engage with customers, but the timing as well.
2. Immerse Customers in Your Brand
With the age of the customer on the rise, people are more interested in superior experiences. How will the products and services your business sell improve their lives? That’s what matters.
Irresistible customer experience has a direct impact on engagement. According to CEI Survey, 86% of consumers are willing to pay extra for a better customer experience. However, only 1% of customers feel that their expectations are met.
“If a customer likes you and continues to like you, they will do business with you. If they don’t, they won’t,” wrote Paul Greenberg, author and entrepreneur.
In other words, if people are buying what you are saying they are likely to buy what you are selling.
That’s why it’s imperative to strengthen your advocate community by building value, emotion and meaning with your brand. Provide customers with ways to engage with your brand and each other on an emotional level. Once you’ve created a base of customer followers, inspire and empower them to advocate for you. You’ll acquire new, innovative ideas and feedback that will push your business forward, and your customers will feel like they’re a part of something meaningful.
Customer engagement can nurture the prospects for your business. Deliver consistent customer experiences, regardless of how or when customers make contact. If done right, brands can be highly effective in generating customer engagement in no time.
3. Measure Your Impact on Customers
Survey regularly—and make use of customer feedback. Don’t just thank customers for their feedback, show them how you are using it! Use it to assist with strategy in planning product and service enhancements as well as proactively managing relationships. Make full use of unified reporting, feedback and analytics tools to measure customer engagement levels. Measure at every customer touch point and across all channels to proactively enhance customer experiences at every step of the customer journey.
According to a Harvard Business Review study titled “The New Science of Customer Emotions“, emotionally engaged customers are:
- At least three times more likely to recommend your product or service
- Three times more likely to re-purchase
- Less likely to shop around (44% said they rarely or never shop around)
- Much less price sensitive (33% said they would need a discount of over 20% before they would defect)
The measurement strategy should provide brands the information needed to optimize their engagement program. When determining what to measure, it’s important to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most and find ways to streamline information so the critical insights come clearly to the surface in actionable ways.
The trick is to keep the communication channels open. Again, you can—and should—ask your customers for feedback, reviews and comments on a product, service or even an article that you published in your blog. When customers are vocal about their experiences with you, you'll know exactly what appealed to them and what didn’t.
Customer engagement is the strongest indicator of customers’ feelings about your brand. Brands know that to truly engage requires an emotional connection. Customers today decide when and how to interact with brands or whether to ignore a brand entirely. That’s why brands are evolving beyond basic demographic information and sales history towards a far more detailed customer understanding. Doing so enables brands to make every customer experience personal, relevant and enjoyable, ensuring both brands and consumers win.
Jill Anonson has over 20 years of diverse experience in event management, incentive travel and sales strategy, and serves as the Events Strategy Advisor at ITA Group. Focused on continuous improvement and challenging standards, she consults clients and team members with impactful strategies and innovative ideas that deliver successful business outcomes. She is a Certified Engagement Practioner, and certified through Pragmatic Marketing.
- Tags: Customer Engagement