It’s a no-brainer that we no longer interact with customers the same way we did face-to-face in brick and mortar. With customers increasingly using social media, apps and websites to shop and browse, they are being empowered with more information and more choice. With so much choice available to the customer, it really boils down to the quality of their customer experience with the company that ultimately wins a customer and gains their loyalty. For any company that wants to increase their conversion rates and retain their customers (which company doesn’t, really), you need to excel at customer engagement.
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What is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is, in its simplest form, the interaction between a company and their customers. But it should not be mixed up with Customer Service. Customer Service is an interaction with a customer as a result of the customer reaching out to the company. Customer engagement on the other hand, is an interaction between the company and customer where both parties are actively reaching out to each other. On social media, this takes form of companies posting engaging content such as quotes and discounts to delight their followers, as well as responding and reacting to customers who reach out to them.
I’ll break this down with an example:
A customer has a problem with a company’s product. He takes a picture and posts this on the company’s Facebook.
Scenario 1: The company sees this issue and replies with a solution to the customer. End of interaction. This is customer service.
Scenario 2: The company replies to this customer publicly with a solution; and privately messages him asking for his email address in order to send him a small token of appreciation for letting them know. This time, the customer posts up his satisfaction with how the company has handled the issue. In response, the company reply favourably to his post and reshares it to encourage other customers to also contact them about issues, because they are actively listening to their customers. This, is customer engagement.
How to do Customer Engagement right?
So, customer engagement is a little more work than your traditional customer service. It might be a real pain, but with such widespread use of the internet, that is the level of customer experience you need to provide to attract, retain and engage customers to develop them into promoters. Whilst there are countless ways to engage with your customers, there are three crucial points you need to address in every customer engagement strategy.
1. Be Omnipresent
Being omnipresent means that you’re everywhere at the same time. Meaning, you should be on social media, email, phone, chatbot and whatever other communication channel your company uses, all at the same time, around the clock. Customers expect a company to have presence on at least 3 to 4 social channels, as well as fast response times across all these channels. 32% of people who contact a company for customer support on social media expects a reply within 30 minutes. 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. Crazy right! If you’re anything like me, you’re a bit of a sloth replying to your friends on social media. Just imagine if you had hundreds messaging you every day expecting instant replies.
Some ways companies are overcoming this hurdle is by outsourcing customer service, using social media management platforms, or just start slow by using social listening tools. Customers want to have their voice heard on a channel they use, and very importantly, want to know that you value their time.
2. Provide seamless omnichannel experiences
Omnichannel experiences mean blending the touchpoints a company has with its customers to provide a wholesome, integrated experience. Not only will this improve customer satisfaction, but the reduction of customer effort has been proven to be a huge contributor to customer loyalty.
Disney and Tomorrowland are amongst the top in providing an omnichannel experience to their customers. Customers start from mobile optimised websites, to online itinerary planning, to a mobile app that can be used to find locations at the venue. They have made it easier for customers to transition from platform to platform and from online to offline, making these entertainment giants some of the most successful in the world.
3. Be Personal
Nothing better than having human touch, really. In a Genesys Global Survey, 40% of 9000 consumers say better human service mattered to them the most in customer support, much more than other options such as integration of more channels and enriched content.
Being personal goes beyond using their name when interacting with them or showing a picture of your face on the chatbot screen; it also encompasses being responsive to their emotions and knowing their history with the company. The end goal is for the customer to develop feelings of personal connection to a company or brand. Once they are in this comfortable stage, it’s much more likely they will end up becoming evangelists of the company.
A fantastic example of online personalization is Hubspot’s smart content. Smart content intelligently personalizes content to the user’s need. Using information such as their job title, average page views or stage in the buying process, smart content changes the content the user sees on the website. A regular visitor would for example, see different call-to-actions or forms compared to a new user. The result? Personalized content did 42% better.
Whilst there is no one right way to do customer engagement, being omnipresent, omnichannel and personalized (even to some degree) has reaped many benefits for all companies that have implemented it. What are you doing in your business to engage with your customers? Share with us in the comments below!