What is customer engagement and why do you need it? From a marketing perspective, customer engagement is all about deepening your relationship with your current customers and establishing new, high-value customer relationships. It’s getting customers to spend more time with your company and to feel more of a connection with and more value from you. In return, more engaged customers last longer, are more loyal and spend more money. This leaves you more time to focus more on making your customers happy and providing products and services they want and need, and spending less time on securing new customers.
So how does a company build a successful customer engagement strategy in today’s digital-heavy environment? Here are five key starting points which are necessary for successful customer engagement:
- Customer insight – don’t just assume you know who your customers are, make a study of them. For example, a really successful realtor doesn’t just know the specs of the house their client is looking for, they know what interests their client has, what their personal priorities are, etc. so that they can show the clients houses in the right locations with appropriate amenities nearby.
- Brand identity – make it authentic, clearly defined, consistent and relevant to your customer. For years Kodak was one of the top brands in the country. They had a clear, consistent and relevant brand that dominated its market. But in the last decade, they failed to make the adjustment to the digital photography society. Their brand literally died due to their failure to be relevant.
- Be where the conversation is – if your customers are thinking of you in a social environment, then be there too. Don’t let others talk about you when you can’t participate. A great example of this is from 2009 when a musician was flying United and they ended up breaking his guitar. United’s non-responsive customer service finally drove him to create a (hilarious) video and post it to YouTube, which now has nearly 13 million views. The musician has even gone on to create an online platform for lodging complaints with companies. So don’t let the conversation get away from you (and clearly, don’t break guitars). Customers appreciate genuine interaction.
- Messaging – whether it’s on your website, in your sales pitches or in advertising, make sure it fosters an on-going conversation. Again, be consistent and relevant. When the message is on-brand, it gains consumers’ trust. When it’s off-brand, it can be a disaster. In 2011, Netflix decided to make some aggressive changes to their business model, and introduced “Qwikster”. Unfortunately, this diversion took them away from the straight-forward simplicity that their brand had come to stand for. They also did a horrible job communicating it to their customers. As a result, their stock price dropped 77% in four months and they lost over 800,000 customers.
- Employee evangelism – make customer engagement the responsibility of everyone within your organization. There is no better example of this than Apple. Go into any Apple store and you are embraced by the brand. It’s not just the look and feel of the store, there’s an attitude and an energy that embody the brand and the employees are an extension of that and are there to immediately engage you and provide you with the optimal experience.
To get started, work with a specialist like LaunchLab. We can help you to evaluate your current programs and to develop a needs assessment list. We can then work together to build your foundation, starting with the five keys outlined here, then develop your short and long term roadmaps for tactical implementation. A world class customer engagement program is within your grasp, so get going!
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