Customer engagement is perhaps the defining buzzword of the modern generation. Everywhere you look, companies are lauding “omnichannel customer engagement”, “customer engagement strategy”, “solutions to maximize customer engagement,” and so on as the next miracle factor for companies across all industries. But what does any of this actually mean?
The language we use to describe niche business concepts can seem technical and inaccessible, but the essential idea of customer engagement is rooted in business practices as old as the hills, meaning you may already be an expert! Even so, customer engagement as a contemporary strategy is something every business owner, from mom and pop shops to international conglomerates, should be fluent in.
In this article, you’ll find all the basic need-to-knows of successful customer engagement.
Definition: What is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is an umbrella term which encompasses a wide range of different ideas. The key concept, however, is the creation and maintenance of a quality relationship between your customer and your brand. Companies present their brand, products, site, etc. to potential patrons who then choose to interact with the company — it is a mutual exchange between the two parties, ideally to the benefit of both.
Successful customer engagement additionally encourages a sense of reciprocity between customer and company. That is, that the customer derives value from their relationship with your business to essentially the same degree that you do. But while the value to you is that of financial gain, brand recognition and consumer loyalty, the value for the customer is product, service, and experiences which they trust and enjoy.
The end goal of customer engagement is a relationship with your customer which transcends the transactional. And this requires more than just a great product, clever marketing, and smooth customer service. Contemporary brands and retailers must actively participate in every aspect of interaction with their customers if they are to create a happy and long lasting rapport. (For ideas on how to make this happen, check out our other article — Creating Customer Loyalty.)
Elements of Successful Customer Engagement
Good customer engagement requires doing more than simply listing your products and hoping customers will show up. Customer engagement is not just something you wait for, but a strategic element of business which your company can actively create. Here are a few ways you can make that happen.
- Set goals. It’s up to your company to define what successful customer engagement looks like, and what it will achieve for you. Of course, your customer engagement goals must always align with the broader goals of your business as a whole. Do you want your business to grow, and do you need more sales to do so? Are you trying to increase your brand awareness? Do you want all of your loyal customers to know about your unprecedented sustainability practices? Make a list, and go from there.
- Find touchpoints. ‘Touchpoint’ is a term defining landmarks throughout a customer journey via which the consumer has specific interactions with your brand. Touchpoints can include customer service contact lines, blog posts and other web content, social media marketing posts, your online store, and countless others. At each of these touchpoints, your business has an opportunity to shape the customer experience and create better engagement. Every touchpoint should be identified, leveraged to your advantage.
- Set the tone. Every interaction at each touchpoint should authentically represent your brand, as well as cater to the needs and emotions of your customer at said touchpoint. And it will also shift depending on the goal of each interaction: your twitter-based marketing campaign, for example, might express a different sentiment than say, your customer service line, however both will serve as a point of communication between yourself and the customer. Whatever the situation, whatever you say, it must be said with the same voice, backed by the same values. This can help foster a sense of trust in the customer and encourage them to return to your brand.
- Garner feedback. One of the best ways to analyze, measure, and improve customer engagement is also one of the simplest — ask them what they think! Customer feedback, gathered through email surveys, post-payment or customer service reviews, etc., can give you a temperature reading on how your customers are interacting with you, as well as how they feel about it. They can tell you what they love, and what they think is lacking. This allows you to identify and fix potential problems quickly, and nurture the aspects of customer engagement that are working.
The Benefits of Customer Engagement
They are truly endless. Successful customer engagement benefits every aspect of your company, from individual take-home to growth and retention rates. Most importantly, however, customer engagement functions to grow and stabilize your brand, your dividend, and your audience base. One study shows that a “fully-engaged customer” contributes 23% more revenue than the average consumer.
In practical terms, customer engagement helps to:
- Improve customer retention and loyalty.
- Increase awareness and recognition of your brand.
- Grow your brand identity.
- Improve customer service over the long-term.
- Maintain customer relationships through trying world events.
- And so much more.
Last Thoughts: What is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is the buzzword of the century that, when implemented correctly, can forge relationships between businesses and customers which can last a lifetime.
Customer service is an essential touchpoint through which ecommerce retailers have the exclusive opportunity to make customer engagement radically personal. Gladly can help make this a reality. To find out how Gladly can help you improve your customer engagement, watch the product overview.