Developing a robust customer engagement strategy can have an enormous effect on the outcomes of your business. Your customers will place a high value on their experience, your customer retention rate will increase, and you’ll eventually attract more customers.
A customer engagement strategy is important to marketers specifically because the result of that strategy is a marketer’s main goal. That is, to build long-term relationships with customers that help them see why they should choose to give their business to you over the competition and to keep coming back for more. In order to achieve that goal, you have to figure out the best way to engage with your customer base.
Below, you’ll learn what a customer engagement strategy is, effective engagement strategies, and factors that influence engagement to improve your business’s outcomes.
- What is a customer engagement strategy?
- Proven customer engagement strategies
- How important is customer engagement?
- What factors influence customer engagement?
What exactly is a customer engagement strategy?
A decade ago, brands could bank on a catchy slogan and a celebrity endorsement deal or two, and reap the rewards. Today, this strategy won’t suffice. The rise of social media means there’s no off-button when it comes to engaging with your customers. In fact, the purchase decisions of 78% of consumers are influenced by social media posts. With that said, you have to capitalize on every opportunity you have.
Before we discuss how you can do this, let’s first define what a customer engagement strategy is. Boiled down, a customer engagement strategy is the ways in which you interact with your customers both online and in person. A well-constructed strategy will leave customers with positive emotions and associations with your brand, while a negative one will do the exact opposite.
Customer engagement examples include a customer opening a promotional email and clicking through your website to learn more about your products, watching a video you posted to a social media channel, or making a call to your customer support line. Any of these engagements can have either a positive or negative impact on how the customer views their interaction with your company. Notice that all of these engagements provide a meaningful encounter between the customer and your business that extend beyond a sales pitch. Your customer engagement strategy should strive for the same.
Now that we’ve addressed the what and why of customer engagement, it’s time to explore the how. How do you build an effective strategy? More specifically, what are the components of a solid customer engagement strategy? Below are some pillars of customer engagement that you can customize or mix and match, depending on your business and the goals you’re trying to achieve.
Proven customer engagement strategies
1. Use conversational services and tools
If your service is available to customers across regions at all hours, then inevitably, you’ll have a portion of your customers who need to reach out to you for support at odd hours. Whether it’s because something is wrong or they need to modify their service, your customers will expect an instantaneous response.
Being able to speak to a real person in real-time is obviously the preferable option, but that’s not always possible. Among other complications, different time zones and the availability of support agents can make receiving immediate help from a real person difficult.
Enter conversational marketing services such as chatbots, live chat functions, and messaging apps. These tools bridge the gap between you and your customers when connecting is tricky. Chatbots can’t solve all customer issues or answer all inquiries, but they can help navigate the customer to the right place and they can even resolve minor problems. Live chats and messaging apps can provide your customers with immediate service that they may not otherwise get if they call in or email.
2. Use analytics
Collecting customer analytics is imperative to improving your customer engagement model because it allows you to personalize your customer engagement plan based on the characteristics of your customers. How you interact with your customers will depend on many factors including where they’re from, their age, their interests, what they do for work, etc.
Additionally, analytics will help pinpoint what strategies are working and which ones you can shelve. The data extracted will point you to what your customers like and what they dislike. Customer feedback data can help answer the question of what changes your customers want you to make so that you can boost customer satisfaction which will hopefully promote customer loyalty.
For example, FabFitFun received feedback from customers via text survey responses and support contacts but faced difficulty in translating this information into a solution to improve customer engagement. Idiomatic’s customized AI analyzed and categorized these responses so that insights regarding what areas required improvement could be drawn. This resulted in a 49% decrease in complaints, a 250% increase in product satisfaction, a 28% decrease in contact volume, a 6% increase in 5-star ratings, and a reduction in manual analysis to obtain product insights.
Discover how Idiomatic’s customer feedback AI can achieve similar results for your company.
3. Customer Surveys
Customer satisfaction surveys are questionnaires designed to help your business understand what your customers think about your product and brand. There are several kinds of surveys that can yield rich customer data such as Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS). Customer satisfaction surveys typically contain yes or no questions like “did you enjoy your experience?” or “did the product do what you needed it to do?” On average, these scores are typically high so when you see a sudden spike in negative scores, it will be indicative of a sore point that needs to be addressed.
NPS, on the other hand, asks users to rate the service or brand on a scale of 0-10. Once you have a substantial number of responses, you can compare your detractors (those who gave you a score between 0-6) to your promoters (those who gave you a score of 9 or 10) to gauge how satisfied your customers are.
The bottom line is that 60% of consumers say they are heavily influenced by negative reviews and 49% of consumers insist on at least a 4-star rating before they feel safe choosing a business for the first time. It’s true that the public won’t have access to the responses to customer surveys; however, these statistics indicate that if a customer is truly unhappy with their experience and decides to share the experience with others, the consequences can be dire for your business.
4. Develop interactive content
To differentiate yourself from the competition you have to create an experience rather than a post that’s only glanced at. Interactive content requires engagement from the participant so that the interaction is an active, rather than a passive one. It helps the customer feel like they’re sharing in a moment that they’re helping to create. Statistics show that 66% of customers will not purchase from a company if they’re presented with generic content. Rather, customers want immersive and personalized content.
A strong customer engagement strategy that incorporates interactive content is including surveys and polls. These surveys and polls are unlike CSAT and NPS, in that their purpose is to generate a dialogue that can be more lighthearted and less feedback-driven.
5. Use gamification
On the topic of interactive content, another way to get people excited to engage with your brand and product is by using the concept of gamification. Gamification refers to the application of elements that are typically associated with game playing (scoring goals, competing with others, following a set of rules, etc.), to other areas such as marketing in order to encourage customer engagement.
Incorporating game aspects into your customer engagement marketing strategy can improve customer engagement because it provides incentive. Your customers will feel that they have a stake in the interaction. This can be presented in the form of a contest where the winner receives merchandise, a simple draw, or an extended campaign.
6. Loyalty programs
Loyalty programs can also include elements of gamification. In essence, a customer loyalty program is designed to reward your existing customers for their continued business. When your market is saturated with competition, you need to find a way to not only attract new customers but continue to engage with them even after their initial purchase.
There are many different customer loyalty programs that can build strong brand loyalty. One method is to reward loyal customers through a points program where collecting a certain amount of points can be redeemed for a free discount or service. Of course, free products will always lead to happier customers, but you also signal to them how much you appreciate their business.
7. Check on quiet customers
Not all of your customers will be ready to dole out feedback. You may not hear much from some of them after they’ve purchased. Even relationships with quieter customers, however, need to be nurtured. As the saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. It can be easy to focus on new customers or ones that require your attention and take customers who require less attention for granted.
All of your customers should feel the same level of appreciation, even if they don’t all respond to the same engagement strategies. For example, your more active customers might enjoy gamified content, while your quieter customers may feel that the competency of your customer support team is more important. Remember that value creation depends on the customer and needs to be customized based on their needs. Making sure that each customer is happy is the key element to a loyal customer base.
8. Implement feedback
Social media and review sites abound with opinions about your business and people’s testimony about their customer experience. Collecting that information and pulling meaningful data from it will help you boost consumer engagement.
It’s one thing to read reviews and listen to what customers are saying; it’s another to apply those insights to better serve your customers. By doing this you’ll engage customers while also ensuring that your product and service cater to their needs.
9. Spotlight your reviews
Reviews aren’t just a way to measure current customer engagement, but they can also be proof to new customers of how satisfied your customers are. You can use reviews to garner new business when potential customers interact with these reviews. People trust other people’s experiences when it comes to purchasing decisions even when they don’t know them. Consider that 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
To be intentional about new customers seeing these reviews, you can showcase them on your website or periodically post some on your social media channels. Remember to be diverse in the kind of reviews you share. That is, make sure that you spotlight reviews across the customer journey, including the process of signing up, onboarding the product, and support for when the customer needs assistance. This will show that you’re delivering a consistent customer experience and that you value your customer relationships at every stage in the cycle.
10. Involve your customers in social causes
Taking a stance on an important social issue and working to create positive change is both an individual responsibility and a collective one. As a business that benefits from the resources of your community, you have a social responsibility to nourish that community as much as you reap from it. Partnering with charities, activists, and organizations in your community sets an example for your customers and shows them that you’re invested in seeing your customers and community flourish.
Additionally, people want to feel like they’re making a difference when they spend their money. Many people actively look to spend money at establishments that have a track record of giving back. If you need proof of this, consider that 92% of consumers have a more positive image of companies that support social issues and environmental efforts. In addition, 87% will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about. People want to see that you practice what you preach and that social responsibility means more to you than a buzzword that you’ve thrown into your mission statement.
There are many ways to go about baking social responsibility into your business practice. This can include organizing fundraisers to combat a problem, donating a portion of proceeds to a charity, and setting up volunteer opportunities for your employees so they can also get involved.
11. Omnichannel customer engagement
Finally, be sure to engage your customers across a variety of platforms so you aren’t missing a segment of your customer base. All of your customers won’t be available on a single platform, so setting up several channels can help create more opportunities for dialogue between yourself and your customer.
It’s also possible that some of your customers are less social media inclined, so you need to find other ways to reach them and for them to reach you. They’ll appreciate that they can communicate with you through their method of choice. In fact, 46% of consumers say that using their own contact method of choice to interact would be the most important part of personalized customer service
Another benefit to having an omnichannel network is improved agility. It will allow you to reach and respond to customers more quickly and efficiently. This will help build your reputation as a responsive and gracious brand that is ready to assist its customers at every turn.
How important is customer engagement?
If the above hasn’t convinced you, we have some more stats that will do the trick. A company that interacts with its customers and works on engagement is likely to reduce customer attrition by 63%, earn 55% more share of wallet, and are 50% more productive. With that said, it’s clear that customer engagement is a monumental part of building a healthy business.
What factors influence customer engagement?
All of the strategies above will influence and improve your customer engagement; however, customer engagement comes back to the business and how receptive they are to making changes. Sometimes those changes require massive overhauls and the creation of new channels and platforms. It’s often the case, however, that the changes are less extreme and just take some time and creativity.
One of the most important steps toward building an effective customer engagement strategy is collecting data and pulling insights from the data. Above all else, the factors that will play into your customer engagement strategy the most will be who your customers are and what they need from your business. For example, Idiomatic worked with Upwork to locate customer pain points across support, surveys, and other customer feedback channels. As a result, Upwork saw a 3% increase in their NPS score and a 4% increase in positive CSAT scores.
Using AI to boost customer engagement
Customer engagement is about connecting with your customers and building relationships. It’s about finding the channels and ways to communicate with your customer that they will be most receptive to. Getting started in building this strategy may seem daunting, but creating a robust and comprehensive strategy doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient and remember that implementing a strategy that doesn’t work for your business is one step closer to figuring out what does. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works for your customers.
Idiomatic AI can help you see the big picture when it comes to customer concerns to boost engagement. Request a demo to start executing the right decisions faster.
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