Effective customer engagement breeds loyalty and revenue growth. It’s probably the most powerful business development capability you can nurture.

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. In this article, we help show how you to do this.

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

Effective customer engagement begins with the end in mind. Be clear about your goals and success criteria. You might want to know how you can become more relevant in your customers’ worlds. Or you might need to develop a deeper understanding of customer perspectives to help you uncover new commercial opportunities. It could be that you are seeking to nurture loyalty to increase sales. You may want to solve an industry problem that needs innovative ideas.

It’s a good idea to make your goals be two-way because you create mutual value from the start. With this approach, you create space for your customers to feel heard. You also open up opportunities for customers to contribute to your work at the same time as you receive feedback. It’s a fantastic way to find 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

Improve your engagement by carrying 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. Think about customer service as a whole business capability. By doing this, service becomes 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 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

Speaking to your customers on their terms is a hugely powerful way of engaging them. That’s why the strength of your communications is paramount when it comes to customer engagement. To succeed, make sure you have a genuinely engaging value proposition. Then explain it with  compelling messages that work appropriately use across the different communications platforms.

Map out your customers’ preferred volume, tone and platform for communications. Cross-reference this with the tools and techniques that you know will deliver you with the best return on investment.

Make sure your tone is genuine and human. This is especial;y important 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. Use these to 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 improve  relationship-building 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”