Customers today are hyper-aware and engaging them is a tough task for businesses. But through numerous customer engagement strategies and techniques, it is possible to make a real connection with customers that extends beyond selling.
What is Customer Engagement?
Gallup’s definition states customer engagement is ‘the emotional connection between your customers and your company.’ While it might sound like a simple one-liner that is easy to understand, businesses often miss the point when it comes to customer engagement. Oftentimes businesses assume customers buy after a rational analysis of a product or service. This is partially true.
Today more than ever, customers have all the information they need at their fingertips. Comparing, analyzing, and researching doesn’t take as long as they used to. While customers think rationally, they don’t decide until their feelings are aligned with their rational thinking.
Importance of Customer Engagement
Gallup's research says how people feel takes precedence over their rational minds. For customers, spending money isn’t just about purchasing a product. Now, shopping is more meaningful than ever and customers aren’t as willing to engage with just any business.
Customers freely spend on those businesses that provide value and those with whom they feel a special connection. If they don’t find a business providing sufficient value, then they don’t take long to take their money elsewhere. So it all boils down to value. The same product is offered by hundreds of businesses. Ultimately, customers will choose the business that provides them with an emotional connection.
Customers decide with their heart more than their mind. How important is customer engagement? Important enough not to be ignored or left as an after-though.
A Gallup study found 46% of hotel guests, 37% of bank customers, 56% of casual dining guests, and 29% of electronic shoppers add to business revenue when they are fully engaged. While ad campaigns, discounts, reward programs, and stunning stores might sound appealing, at the end of the day engaged customers are the ones who will decide whether a business is worth their money or not. If customer engagement is not at the forefront, no business can sustain itself for long.
Most Effective Customer Engagement Strategies
How to enhance customer engagement? The following are some strategies businesses can use to drive customer engagement.
1. Make Customer Experience A Priority
A Salesforce study found that 80% of customers value experiences as much as the products or services that a business offers. The connection between a business and its customers matters. And the way businesses handle customer experience is crucial to the success of any business; whether new or established.
A PwC report shows 32% of customers will stop doing business with a company after one bad experience while 48% of customers will do so after several bad experiences. Moreover, customers are willing to pay more if they have positive experiences with a brand.
Businesses need to pay close attention to their customer service and support teams so every customer is given full attention and their needs are met. Prompt replies are crucial. Businesses must enable customers to directly communicate with them via live chat or provide a phone number so customers can directly talk to them. This can help increase engagement thereby improving customer engagement and loyalty.
2. Get To Know And Understand Customers
Businesses must understand their customers to meet their changing expectations and to successfully engage their customers. This can be done by prompting customers to create a profile, asking them to take surveys that reveal what customers want, and by analyzing what is already being said about the brand.
PwC finds that only 38% of customers think that employees understand their needs. This means there is much improvement required on that front. For starters, businesses can create an ideal customer profile that can enable them to understand the target audience. Using analytics, setting characteristics, and ideal behaviour are some aspects to ponder upon.
Businesses can create customer surveys, and polls, and ask customers what they think of their brand and this can enable them to understand customers and their needs. Negative and positive feedback on social media is a powerful tool through which businesses can learn and understand what customers really want.
3. Have A Brand Personality And Make It Consistent
A solid customer engagement strategy infuses the brand with personality. Customers aren’t interested in dealing with brands that don’t display emotions. Customers are drawn to brands with personalities and those that reveal who is working behind the scenes.
Businesses must have a consistent voice and tone because customers are taking note of every tweet, YouTube video, and photo that brands post. A wrong move can prove costly and embarrassing as was the case when Razer put out a Tweet (which has been deleted since) about having an SD card slot while Apple MacBook Pro did not. Having a brand personality also means showing notable people who make a difference to the brand. This can mean adding a ‘Meet Our Team’ section on the business website or introducing them on Twitter by sharing their stories and how they contribute to the brand. This can help build a connection between customers and the brand.
4. Use Social Media To Share Stories Of Customers
Social media can make or break the brand. Brands can use it to boost customer engagement by sharing stores of customers using their products or services. People give value to reviews and if they see the product being used by another customer, they are more likely to turn into customers.
For example, brands like Glossier and Asos share stories of their customers on Instagram. Sharing stories can help drive customer engagement because people get to see the products in actual use. This can help them feel more confident about buying a particular product from the brand. They can speak to other people who are interested and through the discussion, they will be more likely to engage with the brand and its offerings.
Sharing stories on social media can feel empowering to existing customers and it can help new customers relate to the brand’s message. This can help build the loyalty of existing customers and help draw in new customers.
5. Create Meaningful Communication Through Personalization
Every interaction a brand has with its customer is the most important one. There is no room for error and that is how brands must go forth when it comes to customer interaction. Brands must always strive for meaningful communication with their customers and personalization can make a big difference.
Customers are willing to engage with brands that give them time and value them. If businesses show any delay in response or don’t show the expected levels of interest, then customers will gladly go elsewhere. In order to truly engage customers, personalization takes centre stage because it enables meaningful communication.
Customers who feel valued will engage with the brand more. A Monetate study found that over 80% of retailers who took personalization seriously were able to generate higher revenues. Brands can use quizzes, pre-surveys, auto-generated birthday wishes, or product recommendations to personalize every customer’s experience and to improve employee engagement.
6. Create Content That Matters To Customers
Content creation matters to potential and existing customers and it can enable them to understand and connect with the brand. Whether it is the micro-content, an instructional video, or a blog article, content that customers are interested in can profoundly impact customer engagement.
A study by Google found that 48% of smartphone users prefer brands that provide instructional video content. Content that is built around educating people can help a brand engage its visitors and turn them into customers while retaining existing customers. When a brand creates content, it should complement what the brand is about and its personality.
Content creation deserves more recognition when it comes to customer engagement and brands must use it to its full potential. Take the example of Home Depot which has a YouTube page with how-to instructional videos that promote customer engagement.
7. Reward Customers In Different Ways
Rewarding customers can help them feel like a part of the brand and it can foster a sense of community and inclusiveness. Instead of being stuck with one form of reward, brands must focus on different reward programs to better engage customers.
Customers want to be valued. And when brands show how customer loyalty can be rewarding, it can help customers anticipate and be more engaged with the brand. Ideally, brands must find what their customers value and reward them accordingly. They can include fun activities so more people can participate and engage with the brand.
Loyalty programs are effective as 71% of customers say it has helped them build a better relationship with the brand. Rewarding customers in a way that is meaningful to them enables them to become loyal and ensures repeat purchases.
8. Train Employees And Provide Them With The Right Tools
Customer engagement is only possible when brands give their employees the necessary tools and provide appropriate training that enables employees to provide superior customer experience that can then drive customer engagement.
Brands must invest in their employees so they can provide the customer experience that will turn the tide and enable them to win customers. Employees who are dealing with customers are brand ambassadors because they directly interact with the customers. Whether they are customer service representatives or technical support agents, a brand’s employees are the ones who can help increase engagement. And several articles such as this one have found a link between customer experience and employee engagement. Brands must work at improving employee engagement such as through gamification.
Customer engagement is no walk in the park and businesses must constantly evaluate whether they are doing the needful to create engagement instead of being stuck with customer satisfaction.
Evaluation doesn’t mean businesses can sit back and relax after they have reached the targeted levels of customer engagement. Businesses must continuously seek to question how they are providing value to their customers and whether those strategies are working. Focusing on employee engagement is vital because change starts from within. Only then can businesses expect customer loyalty, high sales, high profits, and steady business growth.
Repeated customers are the lifelines of brands and retailers.
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