The current digital age has changed quite a number of things. Brands are marketing their offerings differently, consumers are shopping differently, and customer engagement has become crucial than ever before.
Customer engagement can be the differentiating factor for your business. It builds trust with customers, reduces support costs, promotes customer advocacy, and increases customer satisfaction.
For brands to leverage the opportunities that customer engagement offers, they must acknowledge that customer engagement has changed over time. The way brands are engaging customers right now is not the same as a few years ago.
First, customer needs and expectations are ever-changing. Research shows that 65% of consumers expect customer service to be better and faster than it was five years ago. Fortunately, new technologies allow businesses to engage with customers in new and better ways.
It is undeniable that the way companies engage with customers has evolved. This article takes a whistle-stop tour of this journey.
The Journey So Far
Yesteryears' loyalty programs were product-driven. A customer got rewarded based on the products he bought and how long he has stayed with a company. Although data was relatively segmented, multichannel delivery did not exist. Also, personalization was rudimentary at best.
Today, things are different. Consumers are tech-savvy and multi-connected. They use a broad range of devices and platforms to make purchases. Consumers now expect real-time responses, personalized relations, immersive experiences, and multichannel communications. Consequently, brands must be ready to offer intuitive and personalized experiences to suit consumers' needs and expectations.
Personalization is Key
Did you know that 81% of consumers want companies to understand their needs and behaviors better? The heart of modern customer engagement is personalization. According to Salesforce research, 57% of consumers can share personal data in order to get personalized offers and discounts. With this data, brands can deliver relevant and engaging content to customers at opportune moments with a high probability of conversion.
Brands have realized that it is no longer enough to know customers' birth dates. In fact, only 7% of consumers would be engaged with a birthday email. Therefore, brands must go beyond familiarizing themselves with basic data to information relating to favorite sports teams, age of kids, social media usage, and best vacation destinations. This way, a company can deliver personalized rewards and experiences specially built for a specific customer.
Businesses that will experience sustained growth are those that win in the personalization game. Personalization increases impulse purchases, boosts revenue, and promotes loyalty. One study revealed that 44% of consumers are likely to purchase again from a business after a personalized shopping experience. In a nutshell, personalization will be a real differentiator in the near future.
Stages of Customer Engagement
There are three stages of customer engagement. It is fundamental for businesses to examine where they are in the evolutionary spectrum so that they can devise ways to move forward. An ideal company should engage customers in all three stages to maximize customer experience and capitalize on opportunities to increase revenue.
1. Customer-to-Company Engagement
In the past, customer engagement was limited to direct communication between a customer and a business. A customer could call a business, visit in person, or send a mail to inquire about something. In this stage, engagement was direct, and customer service teams handled customer issues.
Although one-on-one instances of engagement were personalized, they were time-consuming and had limited scalability. Today's customers want real-time responses to their queries. Therefore, a customer-to-company engagement would be inadequate.
2. Customer-to-Content Engagement
Before making a purchase, many customers spend considerable time researching online. 81% of consumers research online before buying a product. This factor has led to the evolution of the second stage of customer engagement called customer-to-content engagement.
In this stage, customers form a relationship with the information your business offers online. Whether the customer visits your website, subscribes to your newsletter, or reads your blog, they engage with your content. You can tell the level of engagement by assessing how frequently customers consume, interact, and share your content.
3. Customer-to-Community Engagement
The third evolution in customer engagement entails customers developing a relationship with other customers, partners, and stakeholders in your business. Creating an online community is a great place to start when bringing together customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
Best Practices for Customer Engagement
If increasing customer engagement is one of your goals this year, here are a few best practices you should follow.
Gone are the days when company-customer interactions occurred in siloed and closed-off settings. Nowadays, customers are going social to connect with businesses. Similarly, enterprises should not lag behind. They should use social media platforms to engage customers and prospects.
It is best practice to keep your business communications clear, easy to understand, and action-oriented. Do not forget to outline what you want the reader to do.
Whether a customer calls you, sends a message on Twitter, or contacts you via live chat, always respond promptly. If you take forever to reply to customer queries, they will take their business elsewhere.
Use a Personal Tone
Most people ignore messages that are not meant for them. Using a personal tone personalizes your messaging, and hence your audience relates to it well. At minimum, use a friendly tone and address customers by their name.
You can engage your audience by adding value to them. Consider using your social media platforms to post content that benefits your audience.
Customer Engagement: the Bottom Line
The current digital era has created opportunities and challenges for engaging with customers. It offers a number of new channels for brands to engage with their customers and amplify brand messages. On the other hand, when every business is engaging with its audience in the same way, it becomes difficult to stand out from the pack.
Today's consumers are empowered, and their needs and expectations are ever-changing. Businesses that will win the customer engagement race are the ones that not only meet customer expectations but also anticipate and inspire future needs.
Learn more about how to bring cobrowsing, live voice, video and chat to your customer service engagements and collaborate the way your customers want to work with you, in this eBook, "Cobrowsing for Virtual-First Customer Engagement"