Customer expectations are at an all-time high. Your customers are constantly exposed to your competitors and new technology solutions. It’s becoming harder to keep your customers close. But with effective customer engagement you can increase loyalty and your revenue. Here’s how you can do it.
Customer engagement is the key driver of loyalty. Customers want to feel connected and when they do, great things can happen for your business. If your business is consistently useful, relevant and available to your customers then you’re winning at engagement. Let’s take a look at how you can engage more effectively, on and off-line.
Define what you want to learn
Start by being clear on your goals and success criteria. You might want to know how you can be relevant in your customers’ worlds, or to develop a deeper understanding of customer perspectives to help you uncover new commercial opportunities. You could be aiming to nurture loyalty or to increasing sales, or both. There may be a problem that you need help to resolve by sourcing innovative ideas.
Your goals can be two-way. You can aim for your customers to feel heard and to contribute to your work at the same time as you receive feedback and find out ways to improve your business.
Once you understand your aims you can begin to make it easier for your customers to get what they need or help you to solve your problem.
Review your current activity
If you’re going to improve your engagement then you’ll need to carry out an honest audit of your current practices. You can use this to make sure you’re optimising the worthwhile activity and replacing redundant, resource-heavy methods. Ask yourself whether your engagement practices are the same across all departments and understand the critical points in sales and account management where engagement is needed.
Look at your customer service function and think about customer service as being delivered by the whole business as a wider customer engagement strategy, not just as a single function of your business.
Customer engagement isn’t a series of one-off contacts, it’s a lifetime conversation. Make sure that your business is listening and is always creating positive customer experiences.
Also consider the relationships that your customers are forming with each other and the potential for a valuable community for peer-to-peer communication.
Be clear on your message, frequency, tone and tactics
The strength of your communications is paramount when it comes to customer engagement. Make sure you’ve got a genuinely engaging value proposition as well as a defined set of key messages that you’ll use across all communications.
Map out your customers’ preferred volume, tone and platform for communications and cross-reference this with the tools and techniques that you know will deliver the best return on investment.
Make sure your tone is genuine and human, in particular on social media where businesses engage with their customers in a more relaxed way. Make the most of social technology to build relationships.
Make a plan
Align your business goals with what you want to learn from your customers and develop a structured customer engagement programme. Do you need a customer advisory board, engagement workshops, a relationship management process, or all three? Do you need to up your relationship-building game on social media?
Claranet, a business specialising in simplifying the management of IT services, recently ran a customer engagement workshop to create a close-knit customer community that would advise on business direction and strategy. The workshops uncovered innovations that have strengthened Claranet’s businesses. Claranet’s Managing Director, said:
“The Customer engagement workshop was the best one that I have attended. Feedback from customers that I spoke to was universally positive with specific reference to the well thought-through workshops”