Every day customers get bombarded with various products and services, while the competition for their attention rapidly soars. If you’re in business, you shouldn’t wait for consumers to approach you. Instead, make efforts to engage them with your brand in creative ways. This creative strategy will not only help with customer retention but it is also crucial for maximizing profits and sales. According to Forrester Research, 10 percent improvement in an organization’s customer experience can boost revenue by $1 billion or more and the majority of companies are aware of the importance of customer engagement for enhancing profits. The major issue many businesses face is the inability to regularly engage customers.
In Forrester’s 2013 Customer Experience Index, only 8 percent of companies received a top grade by their customers. The index shows companies need to concentrate more of their efforts towards customer engagement, embracing them in the brand experience. Here are five indispensable ways business brands and leaders can improve customer engagement today:
1. Engage via Social Media
Social media has become the part and parcel of everyday living as the best medium to reach and engage consumers. It is also the best medium for business amplification because social media regularly connects people to friends, family and brands they want and need, creating a lasting impact.
When consumers are happy with a business spread, they naturally promote products and services through word of mouth and association. Remember,social media content must meet the demands and desires of consumers to win them over. They prefer brands which enrich their lives and make them proud to share with others. One way to connect people with brands is through imagery because visuals get more attention so it is important to wisely decide what items to post and not and be very agile in resolving questions and concerns from social media users because it only takes one disappointed customer to damage a brand’s image.
Example: O2, a leading provider of mobile phones in the UK, used social media to turn around a potential PR disaster into a positive business experience as their digital marketing team light-heartedly responded to negative tweets from a customer in a way which won over the customer complaining.
2. Enable Live Chat/Video Chat
Live chat and video chat are very important for customer engagement as it helps effectively connect with customers and help resolve customer concerns. How? Live chat and video chat are technologies readily available to customers who need answers beyond label descriptions or FAQs. In addition, live chat empowers consumers because they can instantly get answers and engage face-to-face with brands via video chat. If you are unfamiliar with video chat, have a look at some of the most popular video software like Clickdesk, Tagove and Olark . According to an American Marketing Association study, live chat can increase the conversion rate by 20 percent and customers engaged in live chat are 3 times more likely to make the purchases than those non-engaged, making it an effective medium for improving customer engagement.
3. Make efficient use of CRM
CRM is a key part of effective customer engagement because it has all your customer data, like their needs for specific product types and details on buying power. The CRM systems help monitor the buying journey of consumers so companies can predict the what, when and where of customers in regard to products and services. CRM also offers a personalized customer experience, making buyers feel empowered. Use it to help your business integrate customer data across all channels and exceed customer expectations by delivering the best of your products and services. Try CRM providers like Salesforce, Skyward CRM or Zoho CRM to reap the benefits of regular, accurate customer data monitoring. Below is a perfect example of CRM engagement cited by the CRM expert Paul Greenberg:
“I have a refrigerator that needs water filters. When I bought it years ago, I found a site where I bought two fridge filters, and then the site asked if I wanted notifications every time my filter would run out.
Every six months for the last seven years, I get an email that says, ‘You’re due for two fridge filters.’ I click the link, go to the site, click to buy, it ships, and that’s incredible customer engagement. I had control over it. So customer engagement is: Offered by company, chosen by customer.”
4. Ask for feedback
It is of utmost importance to give your customers a voice. Encourage your customers to rate your products and services as well as recommend to their networks. Many customers while purchasing new products read the reviews or ratings provided by others and then decide whether to buy the product or not, but it’s important to respond to comments or feedback early. This will offer your company the opportunity to please unhappy customers after they have posted negative comments about your brand. By offering instant solutions to problems, you can convert those incidents into great opportunities for your company to sell the brand as the conversation helps strengthen brand trust and improves the overall customer experience by giving them a platform to voice their opinions. A survey conducted by Dimensional Research stated that an overwhelming 90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions, while 86 percent said negative online reviews influenced their buying decisions. This shows customer feedback engages potential customers to buy into a brand, especially if they see positive feedback.
5. Give rewards
Giving rewards can further reinforce the customer engagement. Majority of the companies run loyalty programs to help customers earn points, stars or at times cash. But it is very important to decide the time frame of when they can redeem those points so they do not wait too long for small awards and feel less inspired to continue reward programs. The system of rewards works best when customers feel engaged with the brand and gains don’t need to be monetary gains to benefit them. A reward is as simple as a free service without any more cost. This will encourage customers to make more use of your products and services to maximize their benefits through reward programs, while increasing your customer loyalty. An Example of the success of reward programs is the Starbucks rewards program, which has three different tiers of membership for its customers with different benefits.
Welcome: It is the first tier in which a customer signs up for the program and gets something for free on his or her birthday.
Green: It is the second tier in which a customer with 5 purchases receives free refills.
Gold: It is the third tier. After 30 purchases one can get free items for every 12 purchases and many other benefits are available. Having such a rewards program helps Starbucks motivate its customers to buy more products for more benefits.
It is more profitable for a company to keep customers and not acquire new customers through customer engagement because social engagement plays a major role in customer retention. These effective customer engagement tactics can help your brand increase profits, sales and more by satisfactorily meeting the needs of customers. Leave a comment to let us know how these marketing engagement tactics benefit your business.
Excellent article, Sawaram. Addressing customer complaints through social media is certainly a great way to deal with negative word of mouth. A good response can easily help you convert an angry and upset customers into a loyal fan. Thanks, Niraj (Founder at hiverhq.com)
Definitely cheaper ways to keep a customer than to loose them!
This article is really excellent.
Especially #3 (Live Chat/Video Chat) and #4 (Ask for Feedback)…because they can help avoid potentially negative social media mentions.
I think it’s at the POE (Point-of-Experience) where the customer or potential customer *has to* be able to engage. There are platforms (like Quibble*) that help businesses create a real-time SMS channel for customers to connect with a business. Live chat on a website is great, but for businesses that have physical experience, the customers phone is *the chat client* and it’s already in their pocket.
And, being able to connect at the point-of-experience helps avoid negative word of mouth in social channel and/or public review sites.
So, a tremendous article with excellent points. Well done.
* (Full Disclosure and not ashamed: I am a founder of Quibble).