Just as the tools we use in our businesses are evolving, so is customer services. There was a time when answering the phone or email queries quickly and efficiently and compassionately dealing with complaints was the epitome of great customer service.
That’s no longer enough. Traditional brand loyalty is largely a thing of the past. Today’s consumers, especially the all-important Millennial segment, expect more from the companies they purchase from. Of this highly tech-savvy consumer segment, seventy-eight percent say that brands must work harder if they want loyal customers.
To capture the attention and earn the business of today’s consumers, businesses must move beyond service and begin putting in place strategies to engage customers. The digital age has driven this change, but it’s also part of the solution. Here we’ve gathered 10 strategies you can use to create greater customer engagement.
8 Customer Engagement Strategies
1) Start with understanding
Clever phrases and quirky campaigns don’t equate to customer engagement. To reach your audience, you need to know who they are. And there may be conflicts between who you think should be your customer, and who actually is.
Through persona development and analyzing customer data, you’ll build a picture of who your customer is, and who you want them to be. You may think that your products or services should appeal to 25 to 35-year-old single males, but through data analysis, you find that your primary customers are 40 to 50-year-old married women.
Why is this important? Because speaking to and engaging these audiences is very different. For instance, if you are speaking to your desired audience (30-year-old males), but it’s really 45-year-old females that buy your products, you may be missing out on more sales by not engaging your existing audience. If you’re convinced that your target audience is the right one, you need to review why your messaging and engagement tactics are missing the mark.
If you only do one thing from this list, this is it. Everything else falls out from understanding your customer.
2) Make it easy to communicate – and then listen
Nothing will frustrate a customer more than being blocked from communicating with a business when they need to. And really, it’s hard to engage with a customer if they can’t get in touch with you.
Making it easy to communicate with your business is a no-brainer when it comes to engagement. Doing that may require thinking outside of the inbox, however. Certainly offering up an email address and phone number is a good place to start. In today’s connected world, however, these traditional communication channels may not be enough. Consider offering customer support through Twitter and Facebook, or even add text messaging as an option.
What will elevate your customer engagement beyond providing a means to reach you is to actually listen to what your customers are saying. Understanding and responding to messages sent are only the start. Listening to customer feedback indirectly – using social media monitoring tools – and proactively engaging clients talking about your company and products is a frequently overlooked means of engagement.
3) Encourage reviews
Online reviews are important. In fact, 88% of people claim that they trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend. One of the best ways to get online reviews? Ask for them.
There are key moments when asking customers for a review can really help a business. Include encouragement in emails and on transaction landing pages. Short circuit bad reviews by reminding customers that if they aren’t happy, contact you and you’ll make it right. And then fulfill that promise.
Reviews are so powerful that you should train anyone that communicates with a customer on when and how to ask for a review. See a customer leave glowing praise on Twitter? Ask for a review. Go that extra mile to get a customer exactly what they want? Ask for a review. Successfully help a customer that had a problem with their order? Be sure to ask for a review.
You can’t please everyone all of the time, so also be ready to deal with negative reviews. Respond to them promptly, tactfully correct any mistakes, and be willing to admit you were wrong and are working to do better.
4) Meet customers where they are
An important part of engaging your customers is meeting them where they are. This means two things – showing up the moment you’re needed, and being in the space your audience already occupies.
Google talks frequently about micro-moments – those moments when consumers turn to their mobile phones to find an answer to a problem. To truly engage your customers, you need a mobile experience that is both optimized for search and offers a solution your audience needs.
Meeting customers where they are also means being where they are, not asking them to come to you, like on the social channels they are already using. Understanding your audience will help to narrow down the channels to focus on.
For instance, if your target audience is 50 years old or older, organic and paid promotion on Instagram will likely miss the mark. If your targets are 18-24-year-olds, with 71% of people in that age group using the platform, you’re in the right spot.
5) Ask questions on social media
When you understand your audience and you know where to find them on social, ask them questions and pay attention to the answers. Want to know what people think of a new feature? Ask what your customers think. Want the best color options for your product? Ask your followers what their favorite color is.
Interacting with the responses you get – liking and even responding – lets your audience know that their answers aren’t just going into a vacuum, making it more likely they will respond and interact with your brand in the future.
6) Get personal
Personalization is an important piece of customer engagement. But brands have to balance between no personalization and deep data mining that can come off as creepy.
When personalizing for engagement, focus on “look-a-like” data – information that goes deeper than demographics, but is less specific than the individual. For instance, once tactic to consider is “know me to help me”. In this approach help and solutions can be offered to customers based on what has worked for customers in the same situation or who looked for the same information.
Another tactic is market-basket recommendations. You’re probably familiar with from e-commerce shops like Amazon, where items that others have shopped for appear on a product page. The key to personalization is using audience and customer data to create meaningful messaging and solutions.
7) Offer online chat
Offering live chat on your website does more than just reduce your support costs. It also improves the customer experience while increasing revenue.
Using live chat increases conversions while giving customers a better overall experience. By getting their questions answered quickly and with minimal effort, customers also increase their trust in the brand. And by integrating your CRM with your chat service, you can provide personalized assistance by knowing what products customers already purchased or what outstanding orders they may have.
8) Create messaging that resonates with your core audience
A big part of customer engagement is building a connection with your target audience. One of the most effective ways to do that is to create content that is relevant to your customers. To do this effectively, companies must understand their own values and those of their customers.
From there, organizations can create content that is helpful and meaningful to their customers without being a sales pitch. It’s this kind of content – content that improves people’s lives without asking for anything in return – that connects with people and builds trust with your audience.