With the mass of marketing messages hitting your customers every day, good customer engagement is critical to the ongoing success of your business.
The term ‘customer engagement’ is a broad one that covers everything from brand loyalty to social affinity to your call centre staff. It’s main task, however, can be summed up simply: to make your customers emotionally invested in continuing to buy your products.
The internet has made the term ‘Customer Service’ grow up. The rise of social media, in particular, is behind the reason retailers are now hiring Directors of Customers Experience and not Customer Service. Keeping your customers happy has become a multi-platform, cross-media task rather than just the sales staff in your store and the people in your call centre as it was 10 years ago.
So how do you engage the modern-day customer?
We’ve gathered 7 great pieces of wisdom from business leaders that have got it right – complete with suggestions on how you can follow their lead in your business.
1. Deliver consistently excellent customer service
“Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.”
Tony Allesandra, Best Selling Author and Motivational Speaker
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first: it is already well established that good customer service is essential for businesses to flourish. According to research from the Institute of Customer Service, 63% of customers that receive good service would buy from that retailer again.
However, customer service has to be consistently high across all channels and touchpoints. More and more people are turning to social media to make their feelings known, meaning that your response times have to be quick and the team who manage your social media accounts need to be as trained up as your call centre and retail staff.
2. Treat customers as individuals
“It helps a ton when you learn people’s names and don’t butcher them when trying to pronounce them.”
Jerry Yang, Co-Founder Yahoo Inc.
Personalisation typically increases sales by 15-20% and significantly drives up customer engagement. That’s not surprising when you remember that 75% of consumers have said they like it when brands personalise messaging and offers.
The key lesson here is clear: in this era of choice overload, digital marketing and cheap e-CRM software personalisation, that ability to deliver bespoke, laser-targeted messages to your customers, their interests and needs is a requirement, not an add-on if you want to make more sales.
3. Offer customers an experience
“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.”
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com
Customer engagement and customer experience are becoming intrinsically linked; you cannot have one without the other in this digitally-connected age. And this is something that a growing number of brands are aware of – 44% of companies already see customer experience as their key differentiator, according to some research, and this is expected to rise to 89% by 2017.
You need to try to deliver an experience that is not only positive, but also memorable. ‘Good’ service is not enough to stand out from your competitors. That’s why you see ‘Free Gift Wrapping’ in certain stores at Christmas time, interactive POS to help answer customer questions, better fitting rooms or loyalty clubs. Think of what your customers would really like to make their shopping experience with you better – and offer it to them as well as you can.
4. Passion and enthusiasm are infectious
“Whether you are big or small, you cannot give good customer service if your employees don’t feel good about coming to work.”
Martin Oliver, MD Kwik-Fit Financial Services
Here, Martin Oliver eloquently highlights the powerful role that every staff member (and their attitude to your business) must play in building customer engagement. So, invest in recruiting, training and retaining the most engaged and enthusiastic employees you can.
To take an obvious example: if you’re a music store then hire musicians; if you’re a sports store then hire people who play and watch a lot of sport. Whatever industry you are in, there are always people who are more passionate and enthusiastic than others – hire those ones and you will see the positive impact on your customers and your business.
5. Empower your customers to become the first line of attack (and defense)
“Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.”
Chip Bell, Founder of Chip Bell Group
The aim of customer engagement is to develop a mutually beneficial, ongoing relationship between a customer and a brand; it’s not a one-way street. You can build a community of followers through their loyalty to your excellent customer experience – and then empowering those same people to respond to your detractors and those people looking for conformation that your company can do what it says before they hand over their wallet.
6. Listen to the feedback from your customers
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
Bill Gates, Former CEO of Microsoft
Inevitably, your well-constructed customer experience will fail from time-to-time. An employee will have a bad day and doesn’t deliver to expectations or a product doesn’t meet the expectations of the customer. As long as these occurrences are rare, there is valuable information in unhappy feedback. You can gain valuable insights into what works – and what doesn’t – with your customers, and use this knowledge to shape your future plans.
7. Build your strategy across all the multi-channel touchpoints
“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.”
Kevin Stirtz, Author of ‘More Loyal Customers’
One of the most difficult parts in creating cohesive customer experience stories for the digital era is to roll them out across all your multichannel touchpoints (Web, in-store, social, call-centre, mobile etc.) seamlessly and with a single narrative.
By continuing your story across multiple touchpoints, you’re more likely to delight customers – increasing their loyalty and lifetime value in the process. In order to achieve this single view of the customer, your data has to be correct, up to date and usable across all channels rather than siloed in different parts of the business.
** Bonus Tip: The four “I’s” to rule all others
“I believe that customer engagement rests on four objectives – a) interaction, b) involvement, c) influence and d) intimacy. As a business owner, if you can achieve these four objectives, you can reinforce long-term engagement, loyalty and advocacy towards your business.”
Phil Grudzinski, CEO of the Professional Association of Customer Engagement
The four ‘I’s listed above offer a concise guide: they really get to the heart of what customer engagement is about and what it aims to do.
But the bottom line to delivering a good customer experience? Always deliver a bit more than your customer (or in my case reader) is expecting.
See what I did there?
Quotes sourced from: http://www.customerservicemanager.com/101-inspirational-customer-service-quotes/